Amsterdam 10th September - 13th September 2016
We didn't have a huge amount of time in Amsterdam but we definitely made the most of it. Sarah's mum and dad had planned to meet us and were kind enough to book us a room in the hotel they would be staying in near the airport so we started our Amsterdam trip in luxury that we were not accustomed to. Thank you Sharon and Malcolm. When they were due to land Sarah went out to meet them at the airport whilst I stayed in the room enjoying the ultra soft bed and watching tv. Before I go further I'll give a quick recap as to why Sarah's mum and dad were coming to Amsterdam in the first place, in her own words: - Sarah finally has a half decent phone with a good camera. - In Germany the phone dies because everything you love leaves you and because iPhones... - Old phone is in the UK and we can figure out a way to get it. - M+D fly to Holland for 24hrs with a phone. Probably not the most economical solution but definitely a welcome one as it was great to see them again. I of course had just spent a few weeks catching up with my family in Germany so Sarah was very excited to get a chance to meet up with her parents before we left for the rest of our trip where in all likelihood we wouldn't see them again until we got home.
After getting settled we caught the train into Amsterdam and got a excellent steak dinner in a nice Argentinian Steak restaurant of which there seemed for some reason to be hundreds down that one street. It was then that I realised how much I'd missed steak. After taking a scenic walk around beautiful downtown Amsterdam and hopped back on the train. The shuttle bus ride from the airport to the hotel however was not so easily hopped on as the train. The non-existent queue was packed with a lot of impatience and weary travelers all trying to scramble on board the minivan wanting to get to their hotels as quick as possible and in the chaos that ensued Sharon and I found ourselves sat at the back on the bus whilst Sarah and Malcolm were left high and dry, unable to get passed the desperate throng of people elbowing their way up the stairs. By that point it was too late to get off so we stuck with it and arrived at the hotel, we decided to wait for the other two but since it would be about half a hour before they would arrive we headed to the hotel bar and had a couple of drinks. A few Gin and Tonics later Sarah and Malcolm arrived safe and sound but less than happy. We all stayed for a few more until it was time to go to bed, S+M had to catch the flight the next morning and us 2 had a busy day of exploration ahead of us.
Accommodation in Amsterdam is sadly but not unsurprisingly very expensive and we ended up paying more for two beds in a dorm room of a probably less than reputable hostel than we'd paid for any accommodation thus far in our travels. This was the first time it had occurred to us to use Couchsurfing but at late notice we had no success in finding a host. In retrospect this was perhaps for the best as lot of the CS host profiles we found for the city were all manners of pretentious for instance the guy whose opinion it was that if you travel by plane (rather than by road transport I assume) than you're not really traveling. Ain't nobody got time for that. Thankfully every host we have had since we started has been generous and amazingly down to earth. Anyway back to the story. We dropped our bags off, hid our valuables - just in case - and headed straight back out again to explore the city.
We spent probably most of our time wondering up and down the streets, enjoying the sites of the canals and typical narrow town houses whilst getting occasionally very lost and ending up in a cheese shop trying as many free samples as possible (it happened more than once). When I was younger whenever Riffy would come home from Germany she would always bring me a pack of stroopwaffles, something easily available now but they were near impossible to get in the UK back then, to this day I love those little buttery waffles greatly so when we found there were a few places in Amsterdam that made fresh stroopwaffles to order I was entirely delighted. This alone is why this blog has won its title and very unoriginal pun 'Amsterdamn'.
We couldn't go to Amsterdam without visiting the famous sex museum which we walked around giggling and snickering like the mature adults we are after which we headed to the Hard Rock where we failed to get in as it was closed for a private event. Determined we return a few days later and ordered what turned out to be an incredibly alcoholic, alcoholic milkshake. Hard Rock #4 and the last for a while.
Amongst other things we went to the Anne Frank House where after queueing around the block to get in we walked around the solemn museum quietly reading and learning about the tragic events that had occurred there. A very well laid out museum and incredibly sobering, especially in comparison to the infamous Red Light District which we had briefly visited the streets of the night before. Both interesting experiences and both at complete opposite ends of the cultural spectrum.
We did more over these days but instead of droning on I'll quickly - and pointlessly - mention that in our dorm which after our arrival filled to capacity, one of the occupants in the dead of night unleashed a bloody curdling scream in his sleep waking the entire room but himself. How we missed that luxurious hotel room.