Gone Dutch!

Amsterdam Travel Blog

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Canal tour

All my pictures from Amsterdam are uploaded here: http://www.ladyglam.multiply.com/photos

I absolutely love the I amsterdam campaign by the way! Anyway here are four words that can describe my Amsterdam experience: Heineken, H&M, Vlaamse Frites, and _ _ _ _ _!

Anyway, I looooved Amsterdam a lot better than Paris. I've been wanting to go there since a long time ago to go to the big parties I always read about on the net.

Getting there. From Paris, me and my Thai friend Pai took a 4-hour Thalys train to the Amsterdam Centraal Station. From the central station we just took a five minute walk to our place...

Sleep. The Flying Pig Downtown Hostel, which was along one of the main shopping streets in the Damrak, one of Amsterdam's many shopping areas. When we got to the place, it smelled like weed but it was tolerable. We slept in a 12-person room-- I got the bottom bunk while Pai got the top bunk again. Though we were more in a room, the place was a lot bigger than the one in Paris. The hostel also had a large bathroom with about 8 cubicles and finally, some space to leave your stuff. There's also free internet by the way for about 20 minutes per person, and even better, free breakfast! We paid 25 Euros per night though, I think it was worth it.

Walking around. It's really pretty easy to walk around Amsterdam since the place is just filled with tourists. At night, though, you'd feel kinda unsafe walking in the dark alleys since there might be stoned people or something! While I was walking home one night, someone actually came up to me and tried talking to me and I was damn scared. Buti nalang I was just a foot away from my hostel!

The weather. The weather is really nice by the way. It's already summer there, but it could get even colder than Baguio within the day, and even colder especially when it's windy. At night, you can't go on without a thick sweater since it's really cold!

Getting around. Amsterdam has an organized tram system and with the help of the city map (which cost 2 Euros by the way), you could figure out which lines to take around the city. In fact, the city of Amsterdam is so small that you can travel half the city map in less than 20 minutes via tram! There are also canal buses by the way. Well, me and Pai got this unlimited 48-hour travel pass for about 13 Euros, which was valid on any bus or tram within the GVB network in Amsterdam. It's not valid for Intercity Trains though, such as those going to Utrecht (7 Euros roundtrip) and Rotterdam (20+ Euros roundtrip).

Food. Just like in Paris, me and Pai ate at the weirdest times of the day. Since our hostel had free breakfast (cereals, bread, croissant, eggs), we were able to save a bit. We ate a lot in this quite popular rice-in-a-box store called "Wok To Walk". Well, it was Asian food! It cost about 6 Euros for the meal--quite expensive as well. And just like in Paris as well, I was totally addicted to fries, or as they call it, FRITES. They call frites "Belgian fries" or "Vlaamse (a city in Belgium) frites", and the smallest one costs about 1.40 Euros, but it was like a large size here already! The fries were actually potato wedges, served in mayo and ketchup or any other dip that you want. I ate frites again everyday and Pai was sick of it. Haha! In Rotterdam we ate at this nice restaurant called Kade and the entire meal cost about 20 Euros (!!!), 5 for the appetizer and 15 for the main course, excluding drinks!

Holland has this food specialty by the way called stroopwafels, and I just love them! They're wafers with caramel in it. My Dutch friend Marsha gave me some back in Module 1, and now that I went to Holland I bought so much at the airport before leaving! Stroopwafels are always out of stock in their a la 7-11 store Albert Heinz, but there are just mounds of them in the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Sights. There wasn't much to see except for the canals, the old buildings, and the museums that just thrived around the city. (I actually think that you can just get a collection of anything and make a museum out of it in Amsterdam!) Anyway, on the first day, we just took a canal tour for about 1 hour and we were already able to see most of the sights including the Church of St. Nicolas and the NEMO, among many others.

After that we went to the Red Light District, where as early as 8pm there were already many girls posing on the windows. It was prohibited to take pictures though out of respect for them. There were also coffeeshops, which were the only legal places to sell and smoke soft drugs, all over the place! We came inside the shop that sold ecstasy, magic mushrooms, bongs, and different types of drugs though... and there was even a sign that said "ROOM AVAILABLE!"

On Day 2 (Thursday), Pai went to the Foam Photography Museum while I went shopping along Albert Cuyp Market, this one long road full of vendors that sell general goods-- from clothes to shoes to food, to fresh food. The items weren't actually that cheap-- a top could cost about 15 to 20 Euros. But they also sold a lot of fake stuff!

By the way, I didn't know that they also used the word "Lumpia", but this time spelled as "Loempia".

We then went to The Heineken Experience, which was probably the best place I went to. It was a museum chronicling the company and brand history of Holland's most popular beer. For 11 Euros admission fee we got 3 glasses of beer and a free Heineken Experience can opener as a gift. The place was really cool, you get to see the beer brewing process, create videos or photomails for your friends back home, watch all of the Heiny ads since the 50's, buy Heineken merchandise, and even try your shot at being a Heineken DJ or VJ! Here's the link to our funny video by the way, with me and Pai singing to the Dutch Heineken song! http://ladyglam.multiply.com/video/item/10

After walking around, we went to the Van Gogh Museum, which held a large collection of all Van Gogh paintings. Nothing special about it though, you just get to see Van Gogh's paintings up close. Well his painting styles were large, thick strokes of oil if you ask me. :P I got so sleepy I didn't pay much attention to it!

After Van Gogh Museum, Pai and me took the 1-hour train to Rotterdam to meet up with the Dutch MISEs for dinner. Thanks to Joost, who brought everyone together, including my Module 1 roomie Marsha, to come meet us after work! We got there at about 7:30 already; we were about an hour late--and mind you, the Dutch are always on time! Anyway we ate at this nice resto called Kade and left there at about 11pm.

Me and Pai with the Dutch MISEs: Joost, Joyce, Peter, Marsha, and Fred

We then did some walking around Rotterdam, where my Module 1 roomie Marsha drove us around the city. Rotterdam is the industrial city in Holland by the way, and all of its buildings are modern since the entire place was destroyed during the war. We also saw the Maersk Central Europe Head Office, and there was one big ad perched on the side of the building!

The next day (Friday), we went to the flower market called Bloemenmarkt. The tulip bulbs were expensive, costing about 2.50 Euros a pop!

We also tried to go to the Anne Frank Huis, but the line was just crrrrazzzzy. We just spent our time shopping instead. On Friday afternoon Pai had to leave for Vienna so I was left alone in Amsterdam without my sidetrip partner and map reader! Aaaakh! I got lost on the way back home.

Anyway I was supposed to go partying with my really good Dutch friend Joost and his friends in Amsterdam, but the friends were unavailable, and a cab back to Utrecht in the wee hours was just expensive for him. Instead, Joost just came to hang out and keep me company...

The best things about Holland: Joost and Vlaamse frites!

When he came after dinner, Joost just gave me an informal walking tour of Amsterdam, showed me around the Red Light District, brought me in a club, and bought me a couple of beers. Such a sweetie! That's why I love the Dutch! ;) Too bad I won't be in the same group as him again for Module 3, I cannot wait until Module 4 when all of us are together!

Shopping. There are a lot of shopping areas in Amsterdam-- among many others are the Spui (pronounced as spaw), Keizersgracht, and the Damrak. The Dutch told me that if they want to go shopping, Amsterdam is the place to go. There weren't any malls; the shopping areas were just streets filled with shops--half half of designer stuff and local street fashion (just like Divisoria or Greenhills). I spent quite a lot of money on shopping by the way, especially in H&M, which became my ultimate shopping haven! Too bad we don't have that here, but the clothes are relatively cheap! It's a mass produced brand in Central Europe (a la Bench) and stores are just everywhere (there are 2 H&M stores on the same street), but the clothes are really nice. I got 2 tops for only 9.90 Euros, buy one take one, a pair of shades for 6 Euros, and a jacket for 15 Euros. I also bought a pair of black pumps in another shop by the way for only 20 Euros (cheap na yun for them).

The verdict on Amsterdam. It's a very small city so 2 days is enough to go around the place and go shopping. Next time I won't bring a lot of stuff in my luggage so I can buy a lot of clothes in H&M! If you're into the artsy stuff, the museums are really nice-- I didn't get to visit Rijksmuseum, which has the largest collection of art, and the Diamond Museums as well. Amsterdam also has its own version of Madame Tussauds wax museum but it's super expensive at 27 Euros! I didn't get to party as planned, but from the looks of it the city deserves its honor of having the best parties. There's this new club called Escape that I couldn't get into since I wasn't 21 yet, but Joost told me it's a la Embassy and really upscale... will definitely come visit in November when I'm 21 already!

There is much more to see in Holland aside from Amsterdam-- there's Delft, Utrecht, and Rotterdam, which I plan to visit next time since I looooove Holland so much. I wasn't also able to make it to the Tulip Gardens, but that gives me reason to come back, eh? ;)

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Canal tour
Canal tour
photo by: pearcetoyou