The Less Traveled Side of Amsterdam
Trip Start Jun 09, 2010
13Trip End Sep 18, 2010
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Friday, July 23
Das Fest! A 3 day music festival featuring German bands, playing anything from rock to hip-hop. Don’t forget the huge crowds! In spite of rainy weather, the turnout was tremendous, with tickets at only €5.
There was one large main stage, and two smaller stages scattered around somewhere
Arriving home later, it must have been after midnight. My train for Amsterdam was scheduled to leave at 1:29 at Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof. Minutes later, it felt, I was on my bike to meet a Karlsruher/RISE/Amsterdam buddy, Davis.
Saturday, July 24
You’d imagine a Saturday morning train to be empty, wouldn’t you? Hmm...okay, I guess not. Because it wasn’t. We did find two free seats at a table of four, where two other girls were sleeping.
Eventually, they woke up. One of them asked what time it was in English, assuming she was talking to me. We started conversing, laughing, joking...on a very early train. Another passenger warned that we might want to quiet down, and we did for a bit. It was so easy to make them laugh after 2am though...
They had been backpacking for 2 weeks throughout Europe, and had just finished their travels. They were full of ideas for places to see
We talked throughout the morning until 5am, when we slept for about an hour until the train arrived at 6ish in Köln (Cologne). This was their final destination, and our point of transfer. We went our separate ways, but before we parted, we took a group picture.
Davis had never seen Köln before, so we took a step outside to see the Köln Dom (cathedral), right outside the Hauptbahnhof. Our transfer was in 30 minutes, so we had time to kill. Davis was kind enough to give me an apple, which served as my breakfast.
The train for Amsterdam left at 6:46, and would arrive before 10. We got a few hours, maybe, of sleep on this one. Once in Amsterdam, we hopped on a bus to get to our hotel, hotel Slovania. It was actually a hostel, but whatever. There, we met with Jennifer, another RISEr, and continued on our merry way.
I brought my bike, but didn’t take it with us as we toured the city for a bit. Did we get lost? You bet. Did we have a map? Indeed, though it seemed more confusing at times than helpful. Touring the city was fun though, walking past various churches, old buildings, bustling crowds, etcetera
One of the first places we stopped at was the magnificent Amsterams Kaashuis...or cheese house. Indeed, it was a house of fine cheese and chocolate. Inside, free samples of cheese from goat, sheep, and cow greeted us. There were at least 15 samples, and I tried every one of them. This also includes chocolate.
Anyone for coffee? The plethora of coffee shops made for friendly individuals. One coffee shop had 150 seats. In case you didn’t know, coffee shops are places to smoke marijuana.
Eventually, we ended up back at the train station, where some bike rentals were. They toured around a bit and went through the process to rent a bike, while I went and got mine from the hotel. Amsterdam is extremely bike friendly.
We rode our bikes out into the open country, following a “path” to our destination
Eventually, and I do say eventually, we found a place to enjoy some sub-€20 food. We stopped at a Pancake house. I ordered a large Coke, and drank most of it small bottle it came in. I wanted a refill, but didn’t want to pay for it.
Luckily for me, when the waitress took the menus away, she spilled what was left of my drink, and brought me another on the house. I was thrilled. The food was delicious indeed. My pancake had bacon, cheese, onions, and mushrooms. Afterwards, I was happy and full.
It was getting late, and we had to find our way back to the hotel. We still hadn’t checked in either. The plan was to get back to the hotel, check in, struggle not to fall asleep, get back on our bikes, and see the red light district.
We did just that. Though we were exhausted from lack of sleep, we made our way back to the red light district. We found the way by following crowds, since people would only be heading to one area during this time of night.
I knew we were in the red light district when, besides the glaring red lights, a nearly naked prostitute banged on the window to get my attention. She didn’t have to do that, I would have seen. The three of us made a leisurely stroll through a street down the red light district.
We were soon falling asleep at the sight of prostitutes, indicating we were sufficiently tired. We pedaled back to the hotel, and slept in a room with 3 other people. They didn’t arrive until 6 am though.
Sunday, July 25
Technically, we were in the red light district on Sunday, but I will pretend that was an extension of Saturday. We got up in time for breakfast at 9am, with checkout at 10. We left in a jiffy.
Jennifer was planning to leave around 13:00, to get back home at a decent hour, while Davis and I were planning to leave around 17:00, to get back home around 23:00
That gave us only a few hours, so we saw what we could. We went by the Anne Frank Huis, which was uneventful from the outside. We saw churches, and met friendly people. People weren’t (just) friendly because they were high, everyone just had a positive helpful attitude here.
I had never seen a place where a jogger would not only get out of the way of a timed photo, but then offer to take a picture afterwards. People in Amsterdam came up to us, asking where we needed to go. It was nice.
Jennifer knew she was going to miss her train, but she had planned for that and nknew another one that was leaving not too long afterwards. Soon, we headed towards the train station around 14:00 to return their bikes, and to lock up mine.
Here, Jennifer would have caught her train, had we made it in time. It turns out, she had to wait for the same train we were planning to leave on. So, we walked around the city some more, viewing canals and other sights.
There still wasn’t a whole lot of time, since we were walking, before we had to head back. We didn’t want to miss this train! We got back in time to get my bike...and the train was already there. We found our seats, and I found a place to put my bike.
Amsterdam was great! I’ll be arriving in Berlin soon, but I’m sure the pictures will leave out the details I forgot to mention. Weekend trips seem so short! It makes for easier blogs though. Thanks for reading, toodles!