Expat-terns at a Glance

Friday, June 19, 2015

On the Road: Tot Ziens to Amsterdam

Tot ziens is 'goodbye' in Dutch, which you probably will never need to remember since everyone speaks English in this city. I say that as a generalisation, but it may be the most credible generalisation in all of existence.

It actually may rain for a time while I'm in central Europe like it did here ...
Amsterdam was beautiful when there were patches of sun.
This was just taken outside the Van Gogh Museum. (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

I am very content with the amount of time I was in Amsterdam for; I want(ed) no more and no less. After spending a sh*tload in this expensive capital just on food alone and staying at a 2.5 star hostel that deceivingly has 'hotel' in its name, I am ready to leave. (We stayed at the Hotel Mevlana by the way). Amsterdam is an exciting place to be, but it is touristy, crowded, and can reek of weed even on some of the main streets. Overall, it is a great place to visit for a spell, but maybe not the destination to stay in for more than a week ...

My Amsterdam Experience

- Cried at the Anne Frank house

- Met my backpacking crew

- Overpaid for a lot of food

- Got hit by a bike

- Walked/Ran through the Red Light District at night (in the rain)

- Spoke a little Dutch (een bittje)

- Experienced some gay culture

- Ate Flemish fries

- Visited the 1) Van Gogh Museum, 2) the iamsterdam sign, and 3) the Bloemenmarkt (Floating flower market) *The Anne Frank house too

- Befriended some artistic Dutch youths

For less than a week, the group and I did a fair amount. We stayed mostly in the city centre and walked the entire time, which led to some blisters for people. Luckily, mine from before had already hardened into calluses. Sorry if that was too much information. Remember to bring moleskin when you go backpacking, it's a lifesaver.

Coffee shop, eh? It is more rare not to find one in an alleyway here than otherwise.
Thank you, Nina, for posing. (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

Tips & Tricks

- The Anne Frank house is a must see. I was initially worried to see it because I thought I would get too emotional. It is extremely humbling and powerful to visit, but also a challenge since it is so popular. I suggest booking your tickets online before and arriving at your designated time slot. It isn't any more expensive, and the lines are tapered, so it isn't too crowded inside. Just show up 10 minutes before your designated entrance time. The day we went, the organisation was actually testing out a new scheduling system where people would have to buy tickets after a certain time. Either way, it worked out for us.

- Want to save money in Amsterdam? Good luck. It is expensive like Paris, so the trick is to not get sucked into the expensive tourism of it all, which includes spending all your money on marijuana here as well! I always advocate buying food instead of drugs. Walk around, find cheap places, and build a relationship with the service. No restaurant dislikes a returning customer (unless you were a nuisance the first time). Of course, be courteous ...

- Watch out for the bikes! The Amsterdam traffic/ way of driving is not for the faint of heart. The car drivers are not to be trifled with; they deal with bikes constantly, so they do not fear tourists. Crossing streets and even just being on the sidewalk, keep a look out. It is very embarrassing and hurts a bit to get hit by a bike. Not to mention that the bike lines, sidewalks, and streets often blend together, so you are never sure if you are really safe ...

- On Amsterdam's sex and drug cultures, you do you. I cannot speak for anyone else really on how one should live his or her life in this regard (and most others), but be safe and enjoy yourself. Be responsible for yourself in Amsterdam.

- I do not understand why the English speaking world does not devote more time to learning some Dutch. Dutch and English have linguistic similarities, and the Dutch people take the time to learn English along with a mess of other languages; why can't Americans, for example, learn some Dutch to compensate? English is a bastard language, and Dutch is arguably our closest cousin. It wouldn't be that hard if we started early with children. Foreign language education needs to be reformed in the US. Ugh.

So, Amsterdam, farewell! I may be back for more fun in the years to come, but possibly with more in my budget. You did certainly rock as the inaugural meeting place for our backpacking group. Amsterdam is good place to get to know someone. The food was expensive but good, the nightlife was bizarre but enjoyable in doses, and the atmosphere was cheery even if it did smell like marijuana and the possibility of getting hit by any sort of vehicle was high at all times. But now, it is time for Berlin, well, when we get to the bus stop it will be at least. Stay tuned for Stadtfest, German food, and WWOOFing (in one week)! Here we go!

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