Hello co-wanderers! I’m back.
This must be a good sign. You are currently reading my second blog entry so it only means that I have not lost my will to write yet. Haha. Anyway, so as mentioned in my first blog, I am hoping that I would be able to share with you all my past travels, one at a time, starting from the most recent.
So let’s do this…
Last October 2017, I went for a Europe coach tour with Expat Explore. For 16 days, I was able to visit a total of 12 cities within 6 countries. Let me start my second blog with the first stop of our Europe tour, the Netherlands.
I have always been interested in its vibrant capital. Aside from the fact that I love the movie, The Fault in our Stars, where the significant parts were shot there, I’ve been very eager about all the firsts that I can do in this insane city.
I took KLM Royal Dutch airlines from Dubai. Generally, the whole experience was okay. The plane left on time, the leg room was big enough and the food was tolerable. The flight took around 6 hours.
Schiphol Airport is directly connected to Schiphol Plaza where the main train stations connect to almost everywhere including other cities such as Paris, Brussels, etc. I reached Amsterdam around 6 in the morning. The Dutch immigration officers were very cute and accommodating, what a way to start the day. Goedemorgen!
Before I left Dubai, I already researched everything I needed. Since I have 2 extra days before the tour starts, I bought the 2-day Amsterdam Travel ticket which will essentially cover all my public transport needs. It is available in 1, 2 or 3 days. Mine was for 2 days and it costs 21 EUR.
Since my guided tour which includes all hotel accommodations was two days away, I preferred to book Ibis Budget Hotel, situated in Badhoevedorp Netherlands. It is near the airport and an hour away from Amsterdam Central. It has free shuttles from and to the airport so it was really an easy peasy transition for me. It includes free wifi and you can avail the buffet breakfast for 7.50 EUR. It’s a nice choice for budget travelers.
No time to waste, I already prepared myself for a whole day stroll in the city. From the hotel, I just took a bus directly to Rijksmuseum. A few blocks away is my featured photo above, the famous big set of letters that spells Amsterdam. I also went to visit Van Gogh Museum but I did not really pay to get inside. Yea yea, I’m just a poser. I just took a photo and left. 😅
Google map was my hero all through out the day. I depended on it on which direction to turn since I was just walking from one place to another, maximizing my per-ordered all Europe sim card with unlimited internet data from Prepaid Zero.
My Anne Frank Museum was scheduled at 12NN, so while waiting, I decided to try the famous Pancake Bakery. It’s just a block away so it’s very convenient. When you read articles on where to eat, this one is always at the top of the list. I ordered their savory pancake with ham and cheese plus coffee. Yum!
Anne Frank Museum is indeed an interesting place to visit. It is a writer’s house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. I won’t pretend to be a history or art enthusiast, but upon entering, you will be amazed on how everything was perfectly preserved. Each visitor gets an audio guide which you can listen to. It will provide a clear narration about her life and writings. While listening, you can visualize some of the things which she actually used many years ago. Everything is accounted properly and you will remember it vividly. It will surely make you appreciate the freedom that we are enjoying now.
Cameras are strictly prohibited inside the museum. Thus, I cannot really share what my eyes saw inside. Please go and see for yourself.
After the amazing Anne Frank experience, I continued roaming the place. It is intense and busy but always alluring because of the canals. Amsterdam is made for walking and cycling. You must be really extra careful because bikers won’t be responsible for you. Mind your lane, always!
It was almost sunset when I went to try another adrenaline adventure. Day 1 in Europe and yes, I wanted to be a daredevil immediately. For 17.50 EUR, I was able to experience Europe’s highest swing. Over the Edge will dangle you 100 meters high, back and forth over the edge of the tower with the whole Amsterdam below your feet. Incredible feeling!
As for the food, listen guys, this will be the #tipidtips for this entry….Febo! This one is such a golden catch for budget travelers. It is a chain of Dutch walk-up fast food restaurants but in a vendo machine. See, you can have your fries and burgers automatically. So cool! Haha. When you visit Amsterdam, do try this one. It is also best known for its croquettes.
Now, we have come to the most awaited part. A lot of people will agree with me when I say that Amsterdam is insane and exciting at night. Have you ever heard about the popular Red Light District? Of course, I am never leaving Amsterdam without checking it out. Haha! This is the place where a cluster of prostitution and sex-oriented business are located. Yes, marijuana and prostitution are legal in Amsterdam.
I was really thrilled to see what it looks like in real life. Sorry, I won’t be able to post pictures here since cameras are not allowed in that area also. It’s somehow a sign of respect for the women who are offering sexual services from behind a window or glass door, illuminated by red lights, hence the name Red Light District.
Their cabins are placed beside each other, and you just have to walk along if you want to avail their service. I did walk along, but not for their service. Lol. I was really curious about how they look like, what they do and all. Some were really pretty, some were young and others were obviously seasoned. Although I’m not really a supporter, I must say that they still have my respect, considering the fact that it is legal and they are paying their taxes.
Also in this district are the very famous “coffee shops”. No, it doesn’t mean Starbucks, Costa or some local shops that offer our favorite cappuccino or latte. In Amsterdam, these are the stores where marijuana and other cannabis products are sold. There’s actually nothing wrong in trying, hello YOLO! Haha! But I didn’t have the guts to try smoking marijuana. I chickened out, besides I don’t even smoke. But I did try the edible ones. I purchased cannabis chocolate and space cake. The guy at the store said that these are perfect for first timers and for those who just wanted to try for the heck of it. So I took his advice. Haha!
I consumed a quarter of the chocolate and a pinch of the brownie. I was scared like that. Boo! The smell of the brownie will make you feel high that I became so worried to eat a lot. From what I read, it should take effect after an hour or so. I was expecting that I will laugh and cry and be crazy like that. But fortunately (or not), nothing strange happened to me, at all. Epic fail!
It’s not every day that you get to experience all this. Amsterdam is probably like one of your crazy friends. It will give you comfort, it will make you smile, drive you mad, keeps you thrilled but at the end of the day, you will always go back to.
If someone asks me if I would like to go back, yes.. I’d do it in a heartbeat. 🙂
Happy wandering! And ohhhh, Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Stay in love with life. ❤️
*All photos were taken from my IP7 and GoPro, unless stated otherwise.*