This past weekend we had a three-day weekend, and alas made it a girl’s weekend in Amsterdam.
We arrived in Amsterdam around 10:30 PM in the rain. We decided to buy a 3-day metro pass, which turned out to be an excellent decision. The metro system in Amsterdam is crazy difficult. Not to mention this was my first time visiting a country where I do not know the language. Luckily, there is a person who has a little kiosk on every tram who is very helpful, and most of the Dutch speak perfect English. We eventually found our hostel (Linda Hotel), which is located a few blocks from the Heineken factory. After meeting a few of our roommates (we stayed in a room for 10–Australian, British, and Polish), we went out for a bit to explore. We met a few nice Dutch guys who bought us a traditional Dutch drinks, which were disgusting but we appreciated the gesture nonetheless.
On Friday morning, Laci and I went to a market near our hostel, and then when Ariel was ready we took the metro into town. As you may or may not know, Amsterdam is full of canals…so we took a canal ride, of course! It was really great, and I learned a lot about the city. The boat took us all around the city by boat for about an hour and a half, and it was so interesting and fun to just experience the city from the water. The next thing we did was find a cute café to eat lunch–very Dutch, and very liberal, just like the Netherlands. I loved it! Finally we rented bikes; Amsterdam has more bikes than people, and according to the tour guide, one is stolen every 10.5 minutes! There are special bike lanes that correspond with traffic lanes; bike lanes also have their own traffic lights! It’s so cool and crazy. There is no need for a car in Amsterdam if you have a bike–not to mention the efficient transportation system. With our bikes we went to find one of the three “I Amsterdam” Signs and snapped some photos.
Afterwards we went to the Red Light District. We walked around, saw our fair share of prostitutes (Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam), browsed around a few sex shops, and finally checked out a few coffee shops. Needless to say it was definitely a cultural experience.
Saturday was a rainy day. We found our bikes and returned them as our 24 hours was up (though we were sure to take a nice long bike ride!) Then, we went to the Heineken Brewery (as Heineken was created here in the Netherlands!) It was really interesting and I learned A LOT–and got free beer. After the brewery we made our way to the Anne Frank House. I read the Diary of Anne Frank a few years back and I remember how moving and sad it was. The Holocaust has always been an interest of mine, so this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was so amazing to see the actual house of Anne Frank. We saw the actual workshop of her father, the bookcase which hid the staircase, and then climbed the staircase (yes, we climbed it) that led to their hiding place. There were still pictures that Anne had pasted on the walls in her actual room. There were also little things in each room that were remained from the 1940’s (after the house was raided). Finally, there were short biographies and interviews playing (in 6 different languages) as well as quotes from Anne’s book, and history throughout the rooms. I could have probably spent all afternoon in there.
Sunday, our final day, I got up early and did a few things alone. The first thing I did was buy an umbrella as it continued to rain and I lost mine in Caen. Next I did a free three-hour walking tour of Amsterdam. It was so interesting and I learned so much more about the city! The tour guide also took us to the Jewish ghetto as well as pointed out little details I would have otherwise missed! I also walked around the castles and churches (there are only 5 Catholic churches in Amsterdam), as well as little Dutch shops. It was really relaxing. I took the metro back to the Hostel to meet Ariel and Laci to commence our journey back to Caen, France. Our train ride was long but enjoyable. It was almost direct from Amsterdam. We were so exhausted and tired, but it was worth it; we’d had a great weekend. However, our train broke down for a while on the tracks, and we ended up missing our connecting train in Paris. To add to our luck, that train that we missed was the LAST train to Caen for the night…so what did SNCF do? Put us up in a hotel in Paris–for Free! (as well as gave us survival kits with food!) So, Laci, Ariel, and myself regrouped in Paris for the night, went to bed early, and slept. We got up rather early in the morning and spent the whole afternoon in the city of Love. It was GORGEOUS weather. We first went to the Mosque and then to the Tuilleries, finishing with the Opera. We left for Caen around 2h45, and got in a little before 5. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!
There are more bikes than people in Amsterdam. Here is a bike parking lot. This was an Amazing Race task!
On our canal ride- this is the only spot where you can see all 7 bridges. Can you count them?
This is the smallest house in Amsterdam. It’s 1.5 meters wide!
The Red Light District