Amsterdam

4 and 5 of May 2009

London to Amsterdam by Bus, under the English Channel. National Express is UK's coach service and the cheapest way out of London to another country. You also have the option of using Eurostar train service if you are interested in Luxury, but hey I bought the Eurail youth pass for my travel through Europe and the luxury train wouldn't allow 2nd class pass holders. So all alone I enjoyed the night bus ride at 45 pounds.

When I reached Amsterdam at 5.30 in the morning, the daylight had already hit the city. The first thing I remembered was the lady on the bus who told me to be cautious of the random mugging and thefts in Amsterdam. I didn't know how to buy a ticket from the Amstel bus station to Amsterdam Central, near which was our hostel. I waited till 7am for a metro staff to help me buy the ticket. Thats when I felt the first pinch of being in a non-english speaking nation. Somehow figured the way to my hostel with the help of tourist information center!!!
Shelter City hostel was in an alley. It is a very clean, safe and standard hostel for backpackers. We researched a lot before selecting our hostels and I am sure Shelter City was among the best we could find. Thanks to Hostelworld. I checked in, bathed and made my own breakfast in their dining hall, ate with random people, took a walk around the neighborhood and totally enjoyed the solo travel :-)


Went past a few s** shops and I was amazed at how professional the sales woman (who looked like ****** herself) behaved and explained me all the different products with a flat face. In India, I would have been virtually assaulted if I walked into such a shop.

Pun came in and we hit a Coffee Shop. Then I realized, the district we stayed in was the famous Red Light District. Coffee Shops are where you buy all the legal intoxicating products in Amsterdam and Cafes are where you buy coffee and donuts :-)
We did random things- bought food at an over expensive cafe, packed it, ate it on the canal side, walked by the canals, bridges and walked a lot exploring a big part of Amsterdam.

After a siesta in the hostel dorm (yeah, we found our way back to that confusing alley,,, \m/), we took a tram ride to Rembrant square and realized it was the Queen's birthday and Rembrant's house would be crowded to visit. So we walked around to Vondel Park instead. Wonderful place for a evening.
By now we were getting a good hang of Amsterdam. Went to the station, picked up the other girls and went for dinner.

As soon as sunset around 9 in the night, the booths lit up. Every girl in the booth would knock as people passed by making gestures. My girls, I tell you, were sure scandalized! more by the fact that we stayed in Red Light District.

The next day, like typical tourists, we took the canal ride and went all around the city in the boat. Well, it was fun!
And then to the museum square which houses Diamond Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and the Marijuana museum. There was a street fair in a nearby ground and there again we shopped some souvenirs 
and took the tram back to hostel. As soon as we hit the hostel, the artist inside howled. So Sneo took the tram back to museum square and entered Vincent Van Gogh museum to see the Stary night. Ironic but not funny. I worshipped Van Gogh for years and here I was at his place! That is a different high!


Took some great photos

You might want to read these if you are interested in Visiting:
Visa Schengen Visa. Costs Rs. 4000. The fastest turn around time is from Swiss consulate for the tourist visa, about 5 days.
Places to Stay: Youth hostels. Safe, clean and thrifty.
Shelter City hostels are my recommendation. Search hostels (try Hostelworld) and read their reviews on "trip advisor" before booking.
Internal transport: Tram, Metro, Bus. You can buy a day pass which allows you to use all forms of public transport.
Climate: Pleasant after May because it is the on set of summer.
Food: try the local dutch food. vegetarians have limited choice unless you want to settle for baked potatoes and some green salads.
Language: Dutch. Very basic English. You need to speak one word at a time with actions :-0
Souvenirs: Anything from the art kiosks, sex shops

Moi learnt to:
-When you are in a place, try the local stuff, just for the unique experience if not for the gratification.
- In non-english speaking nations, speak one word at a time and slowly with actions supporting every word. You dont have to play dumb charades. People do make an effort to understand and help you. Thank the stranger with a smile. You ll start feeling a part of them instantaneously.
-If you are under 26 yrs, Europe is a must do because of the huge discounts you can avail. I would recommend the Eurail Global youth pass. I took it for 15 days and the Eurail travel was an absolute ROI topped with loads and loads of fun.
- Travel Alone! Nothing beats that experience..

Comments

  1. Visited Amsterdam last Summer. Loved every minute of my stay there, the city is so vibrant. Did the mandatory Red Light district tour.

    Loved the canals, the busy Kalverstraat and especially De Negen Straatjes.

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