Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Amsterdam: I Amsodam Sick || Travel Diary

I amsterdam sign

(Travel Day 9)
My first impressions of Amsterdam were that it was wet. Wet, wet, wet. We arrived at the Busabout drop off point at 8pm, 3 hours late due to unusually dense traffic. As we were staying at a different hotel, we then had a long and cold trek across town, first visiting the wrong hostel with the same name then finally arriving at our hotel half an hour later, soaked to the bone and exhausted from the day. Needless to say we didn't do much sight seeing that evening.

The next morning we went out and got ourselves an "I Amsterdam" card which included lots of free entries and public transport around the city.

After we had done a good amount of walking and museum viewing we caught up with my old primary school friend, Joost. Who I hadn't seen for 15 years. I literally bumped into him in the crowded cafe, where we were meeting, before I recognised him. We enjoyed Dutch food and of course more beer. Unfortunately because we were so engrossed in the conversation we completely forget to take any photos (we will have to catch up again Joost, to remedy this). Time passed rather quickly and before we knew it we had to rush off to the comedy show we had booked for that evening.

We went to "Boom Chicago" Comedy Show, where their hilarity for the evening focused on beards. Quite apt since a number of our fellow audience were supporting healthy face forests. We were all in stitches, and the comedians were hilarious. They even called out a fellow Busabouter we were sitting with about being a "hipster", which turned out to be entirely true.

We called it a night after that, since my cold symptoms just seemed to be getting worse. Note to self: walking about in the rain probably doesn't help... hmmm good luck with that.

On that note, the next day we went biking, and yes, it was in the rain. We went on a "Mike's Bikes" Country Bike Tour. Which took us past lots of iconic Amsterdam sights, of course including windmills.

We then made our way to a clog and cheese factory. Strange combination? Maybe, but it was a great opportunity to dry off and get educated in these fine arts. An odd connection I can see between these two crafts, is that after a week, they will both smell like feet. Did I take it a step too far? Sorry if its grating you....

The owner of the factory gave us a demonstration of how the process works, and had a cracker sense of humour to go with it. Such a "funny little man".

Definitely looking and feeling pretty poorly at this point. Please excuse the watery eyes and red nose.
"Sir, I think your attic is a bit clogged"
With different colours and designs for different occasions. From working to wedding shoes.

Very multi purpose
Then onto the cheese side. Chris said the samples were amazing. I cannot vouch, as being a lover of cheese but unfortunately dairy intolerant, it was torment but I had to abstain!
Chris ended up buying a roll of smoked mature cheese, and because I wasn't going to share it with him, he ate it with almost every meal. We carried it in our packs for about a week before the smell got so strong he had to get rid of the rest.

Then it was back out into the rain.

We found the movable "I amsterdam" sign. So a group photo was a must.
I amsterdam sign
Chris getting excited about his cheese.

So after drying off we took a sunset boat cruise around Amsterdam, which was a free perk of buying the "I Amsterdam" card. It was a great way of enjoying the sights when the weather just doesn't want to cooperate.

Amsterdam canal cruise sunset river

Because the houses in Amsterdam are so packed together, they are very tall and narrow. Which makes moving big furniture in and out, up tall narrow staircases rather difficult. Not to be defeated, the dutch introduced lifting beams on the building gables ("hijsbalk") - those blocks with hooks attached to the top of each building. These help people attach ropes to their belongings and haul them up to the top windows.

Amsterdam buildings gabbles
Another trick they devised to assist the hauling, were that the buildings tilt forward towards the street slightly. Which makes for a very wonky and slightly claustrophobic feeling cobblestone alleyways.

Tuatara Bro came too.
Our boat

Stopped in for a quick bite from the nearest FEBO.
We then walked around the "Red Light District", which was an interesting experience. There was something on offer for everyone, and the closer you get to the centre, the more the girls start looking like swimsuit models. The streets were packed with all sorts of people, mostly men, lots on stag nights and a few other couples sharing in the spectacle.
We decided to pass on the "Adult" shows, as we had heard mixed reviews about their quality. We weren't prepared to shell out 40euros each, especially since I was feeling poorly.
On the quest to find the smallest car.
In Amsterdam there is a real difference between a "Café" and a "Coffee shop". "Recreational" smoke drifted down every street, it was more common than cigarette smoke is anywhere else. The difference here is, no one bats and eye. It's just part of a normal functioning life. With the tourists being the ones who over do it. Amsterdam has a way of embracing you no matter what your hobbies or background, which is an awesome attitude to have. Plus, at least I wasn't the only one coughing with bleary eyes.

Another thing that was on every street were bikes. So. many. bicycles! If you are a cyclist in Amsterdam, you are King, or Queen for that matter. You rule the streets. Bells are rung, cycle lanes are highways and everyone is riding. This is great for the environment, the air quality, your health and your pocket. And probably the reason the locals here are so slim. With EVERYBODY riding, also comes congestion.  The street sides were FULL of bikes, locked to every point possible. Sometimes even over flowing, with bikes hanging off the side of a bridge. Which does make for some pretty and iconic photos. But watch out, if you get in the cycle lane without looking, you could be in for trouble. After a few days it did become more natural to look out for two sets of traffic and to always be wary of nearby bell ringing.

As a whole, the city was very welcoming. Every local we spoke to said they "speak a little English" but we would then have an entire conversation easily. So either they were being modest, or what I consider "a little" is a LOT less than them. The buildings and canals were beautiful, and the atmosphere was contagious. Amsterdam is one of those cities which I would love to return to, and experience again.

We left Amsterdam the next morning, with a full days travel ahead to Berlin.

Quick Summary (TL;DR)

Duration of stay: 2 full days
Was it enough time?: 3 or 4 days would have been nice, as we didn't get to venture outside the city much.
Where we stayed: Quentin Amsterdam Hotel
Time of Year: May 
Best memories:"Mike's Bikes" Bike tour and Canal Cruise
Worst memories: Being full of cold the entire time.
Top tip: Lots of companies are doing discount cards, do your research with regards to what you want to do before hand.
Next time: Go see the tulips at Keukenhof gardens.
Amsterdam in a word: Liberal and accepting
Recommended?: Yes, I enjoyed it even though I was sick.
Overall experience: 7/10, it would be higher if we had seen some sun and I wasn't sick.
Next destination: Berlin


  1. love the pics!

  2. Great to hear and see what you were up to on your extended travels. Keep up the great work. :)

    1. Thank you, there are plenty more travel posts coming.


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