Our last few nights with many new friends was spent in Amsterdam. Wow, what a city. The Netherlands though, a top country! Driving through was slightly strange with a little river on our right and houses on our left, the houses being lower than the water level in the river. It was a beautiful warm day and all the locals were making the most of it relaxing outside under the verandahs or on boats enjoying the beautiful european sun. P.S. Cheers Europe for all the sunshine! Australia’s is limited during the July month.
We visited a Cheese and Clog factory. A quaint little farm with a few awesome cows and a shed full of clogs and another full of cheese. Who would’ve guessed!? We left here and headed to Amsterdam.
Hallo Amsterdam! To be honest a few of us were dreading our accommodation here as it was advertised to be the worst hostel in Europe. The Hans Brinker Budget Hostel with the slogan ‘The hostel that couldn’t care less, but we will try’. You get what you pay for including a bed and a bathroom. No pool, no spa, no fancy architecture to cover up but instead a very raw, somewhat prison like hostel. It wasn’t that bad and lets be honest… not much time was spent in the hostel at all. This place was superb location wise next door to a few bike hire places including ‘Mikes Bikes’ and others and literally a 2 minute walk up to Amsterdam’s shopping streets.
We arrived mid afternoon which allowed time for a walking tour around the city. The Sex Show at the Moulin Rouge was a thing that most of our group attended however I wasn’t thrilled with this idea so chose to pass on that one, which was one of the best decisions made on my whole trip as it allowed a great amount of time for tea. A quick text message and a few minutes people watching around the National Monument later, I caught up with a few friends I met in The United States two years ago at a summer camp and whom I hadn’t seen since. Marielle, Sarah and her husband live just out of Amsterdam and I’m so happy we could see each other again and catch up. Well overdue and totally worth the evening!
A full day in Amsterdam is not enough to explore the city properly but allows enough time to get the vibe and knowing hows of how this city does life. Breakfast.. hmm bakery? coffee? yep. Heidi and I both live the Bakery life at home so we, at times went out our way to experience the European Bakery culture. A cute little place on a street corner was our breakfast stop and settling for Starbucks Coffee was a great choice.
I started my day at the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign. This was quite early and great because people were limited. I do recommend seeing this early for photo opportunities without a heap of people everywhere. Typical tourist destination; people, people, sign but more people.
VAN GOGH VAN GOGH VAN GOGH! I recreated one of his pieces in my year twelve art folio and why would I not take the opportunity to see his paintings first hand? Amsterdam hosts the Van Gogh Museum. Four floors worth of art but the one truly. I always feel like an amateur walking into an art gallery and most of the time I’m trying to look like I know what I’m looking at but in reality, I have no idea. Art is something I enjoy but still don’t really understand. How is one piece so incredible while the next it just meh’, but still so much time was spent on it. I don’t get that part but appreciating the time and the love that Van Gogh had for art was the best part! GO TO THIS MUSEUM!
Mikes Bikes took us around Amsterdam on the most used transport in town. Bikes! (as the name suggests). The thought of jumping on a bike has never worried me at all however the same thought in Amsterdam was really nerve wrecking and completely terrifying. Just crossing a road takes 100% concentration.
Okay so here’s the #101 for crossing a road in Amsterdam.
Step 1: Look for other pedestrians (The local Dutch people are clearly visible as they are all really tall. It’s easy to tell the locals from the tourists. Because of this fact, tourists are not visible because we’re little and hide between the Dutch)
Step 2: Look for cyclists!!! and look again!!! (These guys will not stop for a little tourist and they ride at a great speed as well. It pays to look twice. May or may not be talking from experience).
Step 3: Trams are along the main roads too, so don’t forget to check for these.
Step 4: Cars, yes there are cars. This is the final step to making it to the centre of the road.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1 through 4 in reverse order to make it to the opposite side of the street. You will be thinking twice as to wether the deli across the road is worth the smoothie or not.
The afternoon consisted of eating Hollands best fries, a small photography expedition and a night of loud music, bad singing and inspirational dancing. Amsterdam is really great! Really, really great! So great it was probably my favourite city on this trip! Thank you bike city, I think I’ll be back 😀
Oh, by the way, all the buildings in Amsterdam are leaning out towards the street. This is to prevent the bottom windows getting smashed when moving furniture into the homes. There’s not enough space up the staircases inside these buildings for furniture, so out came the windows and using a pulley system attached to the top of the houses, everything is hoisted though the windows. Genius I think.
Bruges, Belgium was our next and final destination before heading back to home base in London. It was a quick lunch stop. I ate a brilliant veggie lasagne, saw a really cool mirror statue and bought some quality Belgium chocolate from the cutest little chocolate shop ever!!
Top Deck has been so amazing and it’s nearly come to an end. It has gone so fast and I’ve met so many amazing people with different personalities all from different areas! To that I am forever grateful and so blessed. The Holy Spirit has been with me the whole time, and everything going so smoothly is proof of that. I never felt fearful, unsafe or out of my depth. The trust I have in Jesus has grown more then I could have ever imagined, and taking the same approach to home life will change for the better! Going into the unknown is the best thing that can happen as you won’t know how great the outcome could be! I’m super excited and this has turned into a long blog but never mind that!