Amsterdam Arrival (Day Sixteen)
Trip Start Aug 16, 2012
32Trip End Oct 01, 2012
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I'm not sure if I was completely awake yet because when my train arrived at the platform, I got on the first-class train car by accident... and actually sat down! I should have noticed sooner because the car was almost completely empty and the seats were large and comfy. Unfortunately, I didn't realize my mistake until the conductor came over to check for tickets. As he was looking at my Eurail Pass, I was already sensing that something was wrong. He told me that I was sitting in the first-class car and to move to second-class right away. He also mentioned that I had forgotten to write the travel day on my pass before boarding. Strike two. I wasn't really sure if I was in trouble or not, but apparently he let me off without a penalty.
I get all my stuff together and move to the next car over. I couldn't find a free seat so I had to wait in the area between cars where there are fold-down seats. It was fine until a loud group of Dutch teens came on with a bottle of alcohol. Luckily, they got off soon at Antwerp, as well as most of the people on the train, so I was able to grab a real seat then. Two hours later, we arrived at Amsterdam Centraal Station.
From the train station, I had to take a tram to my hostel located in the Jordaan neighbourhood. There were probably a dozen trams in front of the station, so I looked for number 13 or 17 that would take me to Marnixstraat. I found one that was about to leave and bought a ticket from the driver. Trams rides are quite expensive at 2.70€ for one ride, but they're the most convenient way to get around Amsterdam. I sit down and the tram starts to move along tracks in the middle of the street. I look out the window as we zip through the city and was amazed at what I saw. The streets of the city were packed with people, bikes, cars, and more people! It all looked so incredible! After we pass Dam Square, we started going over the famous canals. I was so excited and couldn't wait to get out and explore Amsterdam!
I got off after four stops and walked a short distance to my hostel on a quite side street. After I check-in and drop my stuff off, I decided to head out again while it was still light out. I started walking around and it wasn't long before I come across a canal! I walked onto a bridge and soaked in the view. It was exactly how I pictured Amsterdam would look. Colourful old buildings overlooking the canals, flowers and bikes everywhere, and shop windows filled with art. I continued walking and found a weekend farmer's market. There were stalls selling fresh produce, meat, fish and cheese, as well as clothes, crafts, and jewelry. I walked a bit more and ended up in busy Dam Square. The centre of Amsterdam was packed with people and it was tricky trying to navigate the streets because you have to watch out for bikes as well as cars and trams. You definitely have to be alert or else you'll probably get hit by something!
I walked all the way back to the hostel and grabbed dinner at the hostel's cafe which serves good, cheap food. Afterwards, I went back out again to see if the atmosphere would be different. I walked towards the city centre and enjoyed how much more peaceful Amsterdam is at night. I stumble across an outdoor concert near the Westerkerk (Western Church) and a watched a guy singing opera for a while. I headed south along one of the large canals to Leidseplein. It's easy to find your way in this city because if you get lost, you can always find a canal nearby that you can follow. The canals at night are absolutely beautiful because the lights from the street lamps and bridges shimmer in the water.
Amsterdam is loaded with charm and character, but it's definitely too rushed and crowded for my liking. We'll see if my thoughts change in the next few days.