It’s trip number 2 of July, since I’m going to be gone for a while I want to squeeze in some extra trips, so this time me and Ernie decided to hit up Amsterdam. Somehow it ended up being one of my most unplanned trip, the only thing we knew about Amsterdam (apart from the smoking and the boobies) was they got delicious apple pies, and we should ride bikes, and so, they were the only must dos.
We had to wake up early to catch the bus because Ernie didn’t know where the Luton airport is, and I wasn’t really thinking and I booked bus instead of train, so I was scared that we were going to hit the traffic, but turned out it was a smooth ride to airport, and then we actually got good seats on the plane (I didn’t even know EasyJet gives you seat numbers), and it was probably one of the shortest flight I have taken from UK (45min?)
When we arrived, took us a bit of time to figure out how to get into town, and we somehow managed to sneak on super fast direct “Fyra” train to town with our cheap 2nd class train ticket.
The train got us to the central station, and then we took the bus to the hostel. My first impression of Amsterdam on getting around was that, it was super hard, because Dutch words had like a million letters, and it was so hard to find your way around (but I guess it was still good that it used English letters). We managed though, and when we arrived, we were in front of this giant hostel Stayokay.
We checked in with a weird lady at reception, friendly looking, but kind of not at the same time. Dropped off our stuff, and then we were off to tourist the town. We decided to walk from the hostel into the city, and the first stop was a random market we found out about from Ernie’s friend, Dapper Market something… and it was shit lol, though we did find 1 euro hurricane potatoes, so finally for the first time, I tried the hurricane potatoes. They were… adequate, I would never pay $5 or whatever it is back home at the night market, I probably wouldn’t even pay $3 for them ;p
Ernie here. Actually I’ve had them before and these were no where near as good as the ones I’ve had – not cripsy at all, and they got cold really fast. Obviously when you travel with someone you learn a lot about them, and insider tip number one is that Andy really likes garlic flavoured things. If it’s garlic flavoured, he’ll probably want to try it. (obviously not a vampire as previously thought)
After deciding the market was a waste of time, we managed to wander into the main part of town, around the canal belt and visited a whole lot of cool designer type stores that Amsterdam is also known for. I would love to buy a lot of these things, if only I could bring them back! Most people in town are really friendly, and speak both Dutch and English and are willing to help you out, which I’m sure was a nice change from stuffy Paris.
Apparently there are 11 permanent markets in Amsterdam, one of them being the flower market, which basically is tulips galore. Every store sold many varieties of tulips that they could ship internationally. It started off interesting, but when every store sells the same thing (tulip bulbs), it gets old fast.
After that I think we went to the Starbucks concept store which our friend Anthony told us about. As you all know, Andy collects Starbucks mugs from whatever city he goes to (to each their own) and the Starbucks concept store was almost like a nice, quaint cafe, plenty of room, cute wooden benches and tables, and of course free wifi so Andy the social media addict could check himself into Foursquare. (insider tip number two, you could triangulate Andy’s position at any given time with a mix of Foursquare, Instagram and Facebook check ins. Crazy)
Dinner was this place we read about on the easyjet magazine, it was an all you can eat restaurant called ‘Everything on a Stick’ The premise was pretty straight forward – two hours where you order 3 dishes at a time – two mains and one side (read: cheap buffer dish) and when you finish those then you can order some more.
There was some really nice stuff, Andy’s being the bacon wrapped scallops, the chilli prawns were kind of nice, the beef skewers were too. There were some average things that I can’t remember now, but I think we took photos of most of it. This must be really boring to read. Anyways, it was good, delicious, we went through a bottle of wine (even though neither of us really drink wine, but it seemed like the thing to do, and apparently you have to pay for tap water everywhere… and if we are going to pay for a drink, it might as well taste like something)
Yada yada yada after that, we decided to go to the red light district. Basically there are stores with window fronted booths in which you see scantily clad ladies gyrating for male attention as you walk by. The first couple of girls we saw were not attractive at all, but as we went a bit further down the street, they did get a little hotter but definitely not any more decent. It was a bit bizarre for me to see thousands of men walking up and down the street ogling at these girls, all of them willing to look, none of them willing to pay. When a girl sees one she likes, or catches someone eyes, she beckons them into her window – she’ll open up the window/door and pull them in to the back room behind the window. Who knows what goes on there. All I know is that I saw one man come out of the window when he was finished and I sure as hell didn’t want to know what he had been up to.
Andy and I weren’t really impressed with most of the girls, he did find a few hot ones (Asian as per usual) but he was really into the white chick who had red glasses (insider tip number 3 – if you want to catch andy’s attention, just put on something red – especially red glasses)
This blog post is getting too long.
Lies, it’s never too long ;p Anyway, then, of course I wasn’t going to get any special services (ernie: really?), so we went to a chain coffeeshop called Bulldog after to try some “goods”, had a “pre-rolled” item, and finished it. I actually felt quite wobbly at one point, but that only lasted about 10 seconds, and… that was pretty much it. I had to have a drink at random bar before we go home to wash down the gross taste(ernie: it was disgusting), and then amazingly, we walked home without a map, from downtown all the way back, it only took like an hour, while we were half drunk, and possibly more.
Woke up semi early for free breakfast, and was totally surprised by the amount of food we get for free. Toast, spread, sprinkles, boiled eggs, cold cuts, granola, yoghurt, juice, tea coffee!!
We started the day with visit to Albert Cuyp market, one of the more famous market in Amsterdam. It was nothing again, special… and it started to pour, so we just went and sat down at a bagel shop to kill time until we had to meet up with Ernie’s cool friend with a super cool name Soraya (totally RPG character). We ate Moroccan food for lunch, and I have no comment about it, all I could think of was more bread… After we went to the giant I Amsterdam sign (must see for Ernie) to take pictures, full of kids climbing the letters. Some got to the top, and some fell off from the top lol.
Originally after we split up with Soraya and we wanted to go on the bike tour, but the rain didn’t seem like it was going to stop, so we went to find best apple pie ever (according to Anthony) instead. It took a bit of time to find this nice little cafe called Winkel, and we ordered tasty fresh mint tea, apple pie, and bitterballen recommended by Soraya (some sort of deep fried meat balls). They were uber tasty balls (cc: Germaine), and just tasty pie ;p
To kill time for rest of the afternoon – and by afternoon I meant it was about 5-6pm already, you gain more time with the late sunset (y) – we went to the Heineken Experience instead. The best brewery tour for me so far! Interactive tour, made my own bottle, Ernie learned how to drink properly, but in the end she was not impressed with bottle, or me. We tried to look for dinner, but just ended up being lazy and went with McDonalds. I had the craziest burger yet – beef sate with peanut sauce, I was impressed actually, it was decent, but Ernie was not impressed again, with me eating Mcd (too bad, get used to it, I’m eating it on every trip) (ernie:nactually i was not impressed by how impressed you were with the Satay Beef flavour as it was the worst satay i’d ever tasted. satay is like food from my homeland…)
Afterwards, we walked around the town, and ended up going in circles, so we just decided to head back to hostel to chill there. We sat on bridge like high school kids loitering, ate tons of percy pigs and melty kisses and muesli bars.
Big breakfast again, today was the day trip out Zaans Schans, small town with windmills, on a rainy day as usual. It was super close, 4 stops on the train, and it was a tiny town, heaps of Asian tourists though. Walked along the river, looked at lots windmills, took token shots, got soaked. Typical Amsterdam tourist day. To change things up, we took a boat ride for €1 across the water into the old town, and walked back to station through super these pretty neighbourhood, walked by people’s houses with little canals in the back, with their own boats. So Awesome. I wish I have a boat and I could just boat down the stream to my friends’ places. This town was completely empty on a sunday, we couldn’t find anything to eat so we went back to town after like 2 hours of walking.
We decided to go eat Dutch pancakes (recommended by Germaine) for the late lunch. It was in the same area as Winkel but a lot easier to find ha, we (I meant Ernie) ordered crazy “Canadian” pannekoek, it had bacon onion mushroom cheese, and it was a serious pancake. All the toppings were actually infused inside and the cheese was melted on top, nothing like De Dutch at all.
The sun had finally came out so we rushed to the bike tour place to get some riding in. We did a tour to country side and it was super relaxing. Went to a cheese and clogs factory owned by crazy Dutchman, he kept called Ernie little girl and called me a funny man, said his stuff wasn’t made in China while talking to an Asian girl, and wouldn’t stop speaking Russian to this Canadian lady who was originally from Russia (she was NOT impressed). It felt like a horror comedy movie. We also saw a pet deer, it was nuts, like Bambi alive!
Ernie: We also planned 3 road trips – Canada, eastern Europe, and Australia.
Afterwards we cycled around some farm land and canals, and through Vondel Park, which was like their version of Central Park. Overall, the tour was great, super awesome scenery, clogs are weird shoes, got cold riding near end of the tour. Ernie wouldn’t listen to me and put on a jacket, so she got super sicky and tired afterwards. We just popped into a close by pub and had English food for dinner, somehow passed by flower market again before we went back to drink at the hostel.
Ernie: I had a real yum amaretto sour.
Ernie felt sick, my tummy was funny, so we had a tiny breakfast instead. It was a super sunny morning, so we went out to the only tourist spot that we want to visit this whole trip – Anne Frank Huis. I thought the line would be smaller on a Monday, but that wasn’t the case, we still waited almost an hour just to get in. I actually never read the story of Anne Frank so it didn’t seem as significant to me, but still intriguing, with the hidden flat behind the bookshelf and everything. Though it was quite small, and we were pretty much done in … 30 min? Afterwards, it started to rain, and it was the one day Andy didn’t bring his rain jacket ;/ we tried to walk to another cafe but rain got worse, and I had to give in and buy an umbrella for €6, GG.
We decided to try find another cute cafe, and we found an apparent local favourite, but they only take cash so we only had mint and ginger tea in the end to warm us up. The cafe had a whole collection of dutch boardgames, but I don’t know about a local favourite as a whole bike tour of tourists dropped in after we had been there for an hour.
After, we decided to find some pofferjtes so went back to pancake house, through infinitely more rain and wind to order some kirsch cherry pofferjtes. They were pretty good, I think I’m developing a liking for cherry flavour. The actual pofferjtes themselves were nothing special. Somewhere in this conversation, Andy promised he’d show me pictures of his high school crushes, which I thought was pretty funny.
Since it was the worst tourist weather ever, and it was raining non stop, we figured we might as well go back to hostel where I had to take a nap because my fever was getting out of control. Andy was probably either playing Diablo or writing parts of his blog. When I woke up, we figure we better slowly make our way to the station so that I wouldn’t be running through the airport with a fever. Good call.
Airport was pretty non eventful, I was still sick, still hot and cold, but we made it on there and back to Andy’s place without too much of a hitch. A few delays but nothing major. Carlo and Naomi were still at Andy’s so it was a big party before we all left the next day.
Still not sure why triple x is amsterdam logo, does go well with naked girls at the windows though.
Things of Interest
- We managed to pass by anne frank huis about 10 times while we were trying to find other places. It almost because a reference point.
- We passed by flower market everyday as well.
- 90% of people working in Amsterdam are robots (friendly looking faces, blank smiles and eyes).
- Most relaxing trip ever.
- Food hall does not mean food court, just grocery store.
- Andy nearly left his watch at airport security.
Would I go back?
Probably, I thought it was quite a nice city – relax / pretty scenery by day, and party / “pretty scenery” by night if you like. If only the weather wasn’t so blah, I probably would’ve biked all weekend, they got dedicated bike lane everywhere, and their bikes are so cool, you can seat people in the back! and a dedicated crate spot in front! If I was more baller, I totally get rent a boat and just chill out through the canals like the locals there, boat parties looked so awesome.