The next stop on my European world tour: Amsterdam!
I left my mark on Brussels throwing up before a three-hour hot, crowded train ride. In recovery, I waited on the tracks where a fellow Osprey wearer came up to me and we chatted, realizing we were staying at the same hostel in Amsterdam.
Shoutout to Alex for being a trooper and dealing with me unwell on the train. Our cabin filled with people of all ages leaving Tomorrowland, an EDM music festival. The couple in front of us, also from Texas, explained they flew all the way to Belgium just for this weekend festival. Bonkers.
Exiting the train, Alex and I headed to our stay at The Bulldog Hostel. Located in Amsterdam Central, this hostel was perfect for walking or biking to the major spots. Another fun fact I learned upon arrival: The Bulldog is famously the “first coffee shop” in Amsterdam, but now has expanded into a whole brand.
The Bulldog was pretty old and rickety, but served as a fine place to spend the three nights in an eight-bed dorm. I got dealt a poor hand with roommates yet again, but thankfully friends from Paris were also visiting. I got an especially inconsiderate bunch of people the last night in the hostel, but you can’t win them all!
My Swiss pal, Dimitri and I set off to explore. We grabbed a one-hour canal tour through Rederij Kooij for €13 which served as a peaceful introduction to the city. From there we walked to the Heineken Experience, after hearing from other Paris pals it was great.
Honestly, I thought the brewery was a bit gimmicky and wished I’d saved the €20. I expected more in terms of the brewery’s history and brewing process, but it was more of an Instagram photo op and brand promotion. We drank our three “free” beers gladly though!
Pivoting to my emotional state, I’ve had a lot of anxiety since arriving overseas. This was expected as I’m by myself in countries I’ve never been to with languages I don’t know and I already get anxiety day-to-day. However, the anxiety coupled with poor hostel sleep led to an overall fatigue I couldn’t shake. So, I took my second day as a chill day.
Chill for me included sleeping in and finding a legit coffee shop (which was hard to do in a sea of weed coffee shops) to write and update. From there, I walked to Vondelpark to read which felt like Zilker but ~abroad~. I finished out the afternoon with a late lunch from Cora, a sandwich shop recommended by my fellow travel bestie Allison.
That evening, I met up with Alfredo, also from the Paris group, for dinner and beers because we both had no luck with our Amsterdam hostel roommates. 10/10 for beer and atmosphere at Cafe Gollem, a bar rec from dad. The bottled craft beer menu spreads across both sides of this hole in the wall place so you can find something for anyone here (except wine or cocktails I guess).
A new day in Amsterdam meant a new activity! I slept in again, grabbed my €5 Jumbo breakfast, and sat on the hostel rooftop to read. I walked to Cora again for a sandwich, ate at the Museumplein Gardens, and then spent my afternoon biking the “countryside” with Mike’s Bike Tours.
The ride took us out of Amsterdam proper along the Amstel River to De Riekermolen, a traditional Dutch windmill, and Rembrandt Hoeve, a cheese and clog factory. We got to try lots of cheese and see beautiful landscapes, so for me this was a highlight! Additionally, a loud dad befriended me, much to the dismay of his teenage kids, so I had lots of entertainment on the ride.
For dinner, I opted for a traditional Dutch stamppot and stroopwafels! No herring was tried on this trip because I could not bring myself to do it.
My final day! We made it! I visited the Rijksmuseum in the morning to kill a few hours as my return train was not until 6 p.m. I understand the Rijksmuseum’s importance, but it was not the museum for me. It is traditional art and Dutch historical items that got very repetitive after a few galleries.
I gave up on looking at paintings, guns, and antique dishware after two hours to get lunch. With four hours left till the train, I opted to rent a bike for an hour and hit the town. After this, I checked the Thalys website with hopes I could snag an earlier train.
This led me to exchange my ticket for an hour earlier train with a first class seat for less than my standard ticket. So, I finish writing to you about Amsterdam with my “free” food and drinks. I’m probably setting myself up for future let downs as this has been my best train experience with AC!
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