Arrival in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Travel Blog› entry 117 of 128 › view all entries
The train from Germany pulled into Amsterdam Centraal right on time. I walked the short distance to my hostel in the morning sun where I dropped off my things and headed out into the city.
As I walked I came across the Royal Palace and the main square of the town. Since I was there already, I decided this was as good a time as any to check out the palace. I paid the couple euro to get in and started on my self guided tour of the palace. There were several rooms open to view, as well as some history of Amsterdam and the palace itself. It turns out that the town hall of Amsterdam, built in the 1600's, was converted by Louis Napoleon (the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte) in 1806 to be his Royal Palace while he was king of the Netherlands.
From the Royal Palace, I headed through Amsterdam, checking out the sites as I went. I walked to the Anne Frank House but I did not enter it at the time, there was either a long line or it was closed. I continued on my way until I reached the Van Gogh museum. It would have cost some $20 to go inside, and I didn't care enough about the artist to pay that...I don't care how good he was. My foot started to hurt again, so I dipped my feet into a fountain near the Van Gogh museum. As I rested up there, I noticed some people gathering for what looked like a tour.
It did turn out to be a tour, a bike tour around and through Amsterdam. After talking with the tour guide, she mentioned that this particular tour was full but that there was one in the afternoon. She also mentioned I should take the tour today, as it was supposed to rain for the next few days. I did end up signing up for the tour, and decided to go kill some time elsewhere.
I came across the Heineken Brewery not too far from the Van Gogh museum. I guess this facility is no longer used, but it was used until recently so I thought it was worth a look. This too was a bit on the expensive side, but I checked it out anyway. The tour takes you through the whole building and the entire brewing process, and you get several drinks along the way.
I made my way back to the fountain where I met the tour guide before, as that was the meeting place for the bike tour. Once the group had assembled, we walked over to the bike shop and got our bikes. The sky looked like it wanted to open up already, so I just hoped we would make it through the tour. First, we learned the rules of the road in Amsterdam. It is the city of bikes, and they have very strict rules about what to do when. Once we were well versed on those, we set out into the city. Although I don't remember everything that was discussed, we learned a lot about the history of the city, and saw some interesting sites along the way.
We rode back into town and dropped off our bikes. One of the girls from the tour decided she wanted to spend the rest of the evening with me, so we grabbed some dinner and then went to an upbeat part of town with some bars and lots of street performers. We watched the different shows and then made our way over to the red light district just to see what it was all about. That was a really neat experience. I was walking with a girl but the women in the windows would still try to get your attention and share with you their rock bottom prices. Definitely a unique city! I walked the girl to her hostel and then found out that my hostel was actually in the red light district. During the day, the area doesn't look like much...but at night everyone comes out!