I had another early morning Thalys train with a single window seat, this time bound for Amsterdam. Most of my journey was spent staring out the window at the fields filled with huge wind turbines. Such a great idea for renewable energy.
I had booked a ticket into Amsterdam Central however to my luck the train made a stop at Schipol Airport which is where I had managed to get an agent rate at the Park Inn hotel. I got off the train and boarded the free shuttle bus to the hotel. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to check in for a couple more hours however they did store my luggage while I headed back to the airport to waste some time.
I could’ve bought a ticket and headed into the city but I chose to listen to my body’s cry for rest. Instead I posed for a pic in front of the I AMSTERDAM sign and wandered through the airport shops before ordering a burger and frites (hot chips) with mayonnaise. The meal was quite satisfying.
I headed back to the hotel and checked into their standard room. After spending the last 4 nights in hostels I was glad to know my next 2 nights were going to be spent in my own room.
Europe on a shoestring is a frugal life. It’s about making your budget stretch as much as possible. So in order to save on laundry costs, I washed my clothes from the last 4 days in the basin and hung them on towel racks in the bathroom. Backpackers will know that hack very well. It was mid afternoon by now. After a long, hot, ideal water pressure shower, I slept. All the way to early next morning.
Sadly my agent rate was for the room only so I grabbed a cheap breakfast to go at the airport. I bought a return train ticket to the central station. When I got into the city center I was delighted to find out it was Pride day in Amsterdam. The parade was still setting up to cruise along the canal. While they did that I explored the main points of the city.
The House of Anne Frank was my first stop. I didn’t enter the house as it was out of my budget but I was glad to see the long line waiting to enter the museum. This place is such an important place in history.
The streets were filled with people of all ages and races in support of Pride. It was such a lovely thing to see. Along the bridges over the canals were bicycles lined up against the railing. Flower pots were fixed to the railings as well. I found the Rembrandt Museum and the second I AMSTERDAM sign. This city is so beautiful.
I traced my steps back to the main canal to grab an early lunch and a great vantage spot over one of the bridges. The flags, and floats, and Queens. Oh my! It was an absolutely colorful parade and such an incredible thing to witness such a large amount of people who didn’t know each other, come to celebrate strangers equality. I watched for a couple of hours, and it was hard to leave the parade, but I still had a few places to visit that afternoon before leaving for my next destination.
As I was walking back to the main station I made a friend. A lovely gay Dutch gentleman on his way to work had a friendly chat with me and gave me a few suggestions on where to visit. I had to grab a photo with him before he left me on my solo city venture.
I headed to a bar called Hill Street Booze, a recommendation from one of my girlfriends. Unfortunately they no longer had a smoking cafe but told me of another place I could try. My disappointment quickly turned to hope as I marched down there. I found the Greenhouse Effect on a corner and bought myself a brownie along with a hot chocolate, another recommendation by another friend. It took more than an hour to feel any effect, but even then it was not the full effect that comes from inhaling the herb. Talking from experience? Perhaps 🙂
In my somewhat zen daze, I walked up and down cobblestone streets, over bridges, passed boy groups, and girl groups, and found the Museum of Prostitution. I found the museum to be quite educational. It gave a history of prostitution in the Netherlands as well as the good, bad and ugly of this profession. I was glad to learn of the high standards the ladies in the windows have in regards to their own health and safety. I also had the opportunity to sit in a window myself!
The after effects of the brownie had left me sleepy and with a throbbing headache. I gave the Red Light District a miss in exchange for my bed.
I will return to Amsterdam to see the district this city is so famous for, to visit Anne Frank’s house, to admire the Rembrandt and Van Gogh museums as well as trace my father’s ancestry.
But right now I had a bag to pack for my very early departure to Berlin, and a headache to sleep off.