Well, the night train from Berlin to Amsterdam was quite an adventure. After stopping at a station for what seemed like an eternity, I was blasted awake by 3 snoring men, and mind you, I was wearing heavy duty earplugs. I think I would have preferred those blind mice. George was not so lucky and had been kept awake by their nose orchestra for a while. After wandering through a maze of train cars, we found an attendant who did not speak a word of English and made a very bad attempt at trying to open an empty couchette for us. After admitting defeat, we found another man and woo hoo! He spoke English, unlocked the empty couchette and we were able to finally get some shut eye.
Waking up the next morning, we still had an hour and a half til we got to Amsterdam, so we enjoyed the scenery and grabbed a small bite from the extremely inadequate kitchen. Remember what I said about cranky George? It was getting to be that point due to the lack of food and sleep. Thankfully we arrived and made the quick 10 minute walk to the house boat near NEMO. We got settled into our very petite cabin and set out to check out the city. We walked along the canals and picked up a bite to eat at a cute cafe near one of the Univeritat van Amsterdam campuses. Making our way toward the main Dam area, we walked along the main shopping street ending up at the Sexmuseum. We just had to go in. It was pretty funny, in my opinion, but I think George was uncomfortable. They had some early porno photographs from the late 1800’s, some artifacts from the Roman times and a ton of funny animatronics. Totally worth the €4 to get in.
After all of that great entertainment, I know that George loves tulips, so we headed over to the flower market to check out a bunch of different bulbs. With too many choices, we left empty handed and headed back to the botel to freshen because we were going out to meet an old friend of mine from college. She lives in Amsterdam now, going to school, and wanted to meet up while we were there.
Craziest thing happened to us while we were sitting out on the deck just checking out some info on our iPads. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot something and thought it was a dog or cat or something going along the boat, so I turn to look and there is this crazy, drugged out guy dressed like a pirate sneaking up on us. I said “um, hello?” and jumped up and George was freaked out by that point as well and jumped up from the bench as well. The crazy guy then leapt up on the bannister like a crow and the owners of the botel ran out and shooed him off the boat. As he was rolling and running away, we could see that he had a knife in the back of his pants. I don’t know whether it was real or not, but it scared the bajeezus out of me. I was still shaken up when we met up with my friend, Genny.
We all sat and talked and I drank a glass of wine to calm my nerves, but unfortunately, she was feeling under the weather, so we said our goodbyes and George and I sought out some food. We landed on Chinese and it did not disappoint. There was so much food that we had leftovers for the next night, which was good because it was definitely not cheap. We did walk past a huge queue waiting for a live sex show on our way back to the botel, which is just such a odd concept to both of us. Sexmuseum is one thing, but paying to watch live sex just seems out there.
Staying in a bed and breakfast certainly has its perks, like free breakfast. After figuring out some things for the day, we decided upon a canal cruise. It was pretty cheap at only €9 a person and we were able to see a bunch of the city that we would have missed out by foot. We had heard about this sandwich shop, so after boating around, we decided to check it out. And holy cow, it was delicious. Not the cheapest, but definitely worth it. It’s called Singel 404, which is the address as well. Pretty brilliant marketing right there. With our bellies full of goodness, I was very keen on getting my picture with the Iamsterdam sign, so we started out towards museumplein, walking past a ton of antique shops. We stopped at Coster Diamonds, which gives a free tour of their facilities along with some very nice jewelry available, of course, for purchase. I’m pretty sure that our “guide” knew about our beer budgets. It was still nice to see some sparkly things. We headed over to the famous sign trying to hedge against the crowds and luckily enough, I was able to get a person-free shot of myself between the I and am. For anyone that has ever traveled to a crowded, popular place, getting other people out of your photo is nothing short of a miracle.
Slowly snaking our way back through the canals to our botel, we decided to be good tourists and stop for a little treat. My friend Kaela recommended a place, and we tried to stop there but it looked like there was some construction going on and the front was blocked off. So we wandered down the street a little until we found Buddha’s and grabbed our brownies. It was actually pretty good and I really didn’t feel anything…until an hour and a half later. In our brilliant heads, we decided that right then and there was the best time for some big exploring, and some frites. So we had an adventure, got our frites, a Coke and a small soft serve ice cream. After about an hour, we were ready to hit the hay and we managed to find our way back without getting lost. We passed out, only to wake up 11 hours later.
Also known as Lauren-faces-her-fears day. I made a promise to myself that I would not leave Amsterdam without riding a bike. It is a HUGE part of the culture with more bikes in the city than people. I decided the easiest way for me to accomplish this daunting task was to do a countryside bike tour with Mike’s Bike Tours. I may sound irrational about my fear of riding bikes, but I have had many an unpleasant experience during my life including riding into cactus, falling on an old man, falling and wiping out, etc. George thinks I’m nuts, I consider myself quite rational. The tour started in the middle of the city and I was pretty proud of myself for not running over pedestrians or slamming into any cars and avoiding other bikers. I mean, this is serious business, biking in Amsterdam. So, we slowly made our way out of town, stopping by a 17th century windmill and heading to a cheese and clog making farm to find out about how to make their cheese and clogs. Pretty interesting stuff. They can make the shape of a clog in 3 minutes flat. I watched it. This spot was also our designated lunch break, so we munched on some sandwiches before hopping on our bikes to make our way back into the city. We did stop by the Olympic stadium and rode through Vondelpark.
After returning a bit late from our tour thanks to some idiot from San Francisco who decided to stop for a photo and got lost, we grabbed our bags and headed to the train station to begin the long journey with many stops to Bruges.