On our first full day in Amsterdam we made the train station our first stop, we figured out more information about Eurail (and actually spoke to a person)!!! The lady who guided us through the Eurail information was quite nice and very helpful. We learned how to work our passes, about reservations, a timetable for Berlin bound trains, and where we needed to go to catch the train. We also got more information about the different names for the trains that we would take in the different countries. After our conversation, we both felt a lot better and could enjoy our travels through Amsterdam feeling more relaxed.
Our flights from Dublin to Copenhagen and Copenhagen to Amsterdam were pretty good. SAS is a very nice airline. As I mentioned in my last post, we had a little trouble with the train system when we first got here, but it worked out in the end. K had done some research on how we were going to get around Amsterdam. But still needed to figure out how to get from the airport to our hotel. The airport is a little outside the city. So we couldn't use public transportation yet. We figured out how to buy metra like train tickets that would get us to a stop where we could buy 72 hour tram tickets. We were told where to go to catch our train and a train attendant helped us on the train, but we missed our stop and ended up about 30 minutes outside of the city. We got a nice view of the countryside. :)
When we finally figured out what we needed to do to get to our hotel. The name was the Flipper Hotel. It was a nice little place. It was the cheapest option that we could find for staying in Amsterdam for the days that we were there. It came out to abut 50 euro each, every night.
The first night we got a very spacious room with our own private bathroom. Very nice.
After we rested a little we asked for some advice on dinner, but the woman at the reception desk had very pricey options and some were a tad distant. We opted to go out and explore ourselves.
We found a little Asian fusion place, Wok King. Either we were really hungry or the place was as good as we thought, but we were very happy with our choice.
We then explored a grocery store, Albert Heinz, to see what they had in comparison to Dublin. Reading food labels in a foreign language is difficult, but we managed out. In Dutch protein is ewitten. The weird thing is sometimes they only tell you the protein for 100grams, so we would have to figure out how many grams were in what we were eating. After we finished at the grocery we went back to the hotel.
We started off the day having breakfast at the hotel, was not included and was 6,50 euro. Everyone on the hostelworld reviews raved about how good the breakfast was. Maybe it was because we were there on a Friday morning instead of a Saturday or Sunday morning, but it was not all that good. After we ate we headed out to the train station to figure out more about Eurail, which we figured out!!! Yey! For Amsterdam it seemed that it was definitely possible to just come to the train station and hop on a train to Berlin.
Afterwards we got lost in the streets of Amsterdam and found ourselves in a residential part which was very pretty, nice and also quiet.
It was nice to see the real Amsterdam if you will, compared to the tourist version of it. We took some pictures and then we decided to find the Red Lighht District. On our way there we passed a photo shoot that K does not believe may be entirely legal. He says that because there was a D-SLR camera mounted on the hood of the car and they were driving through traffic taking pictures. Also the model was sitting up on top of the backseat while the photographer was taking pictures from the front passenger seat and another model was driving (we do not think that she knew how to drive stick--the terrible sounds of gears grinding when she drove). Just did not seem very safe.
We had some difficulty finding the Red Light Distict, but we did in the end. We walked around in the early afternoon and it was pretty tame. Afterwards we went back down one of the shop streets that we had explored and I found a cafe to sit and have tea at while K did some other things ;).
I people watched and wrote. When K came back we went to an eatery across the street from where I was sitting to have ham sandwiches. I had seen a lot of people come out of there with sandwiches and so I figured it was pretty good. Even one of the locals that had tried to speak to me had told me (I think) that I should go eat there. We grabbed some sandwiches (ham and seasoned bread with olive oil, spices, and tomatoes). We both agreed that the meat was a little too meaty, I couldn't finish mine. K ate a lot of my meat, but still couldn't finish. The bread was good though. We sat by a canal and ate our sandwiches and rested.
After we finished, decided to find Anne Franks house. We found it, but the line was too long and we didn't want to buy tickets and wait. But we took pictures.
After that we decided to find a bookstore that I had read about. On our way we noticed a painter wnd stopped to watch him for a bit. Then continued on our way.
Our journey took us back on the other side of the city, near the Red Light Distict again ( a bit more active now that it was late afternoon). Along the way I wanted to find a store that sold postcards for a fairly good price, that I had seen before. We finally found it after some trouble, but not before we ended up stopping and resting on a bench that overlooked a square for about a half hour. We then headed to the Book Exchange. There was at least 4-5 rooms full of books from floor to ceiling.
I really wanted a book and finally after some convincing and the promise that I would exchange it when I was finished K let me get one. The man at the counter had a kind of sarcastic (or as K says, elitist) personality. I asked him for a suggestion and after a difficult time (him not knowing what to suggest [short fiction novel] but me encouraging him to) he finally said Graham Greene. He named some of the more famous titles and I chose "Travels with My Aunt"--to go with our travel theme.
We then stopped at a grocery store and bought some picnic dinner items and walked back across the city to the more residential side that we had been at earlier in the day and had dinner seated along the canal. It was very pretty and relaxing.
We got up and picked up breakfast from Albert Heinz and ate it on our way to several street markets. We had lots of samples while we were at the markets and looked a variety of different things. We then decided to travel to the Heineken Experience. When we arrived there was a long line and we didn't want to pay 18 euro for another brewery experience. We decided to try and find the Van Gogh museum. On our way we stopped at a frites place, that I kept noticing the locals enjoy. Basically it is a cone of fries with different condiments on it. The most common is mayonnaise, so I chose that one. K and I each got one, but we decided later after we had eaten we could have split one. After we were finished we continued on our way to the museum. When we got there we found that there was a huge grassy park where a lot of people were picnicking. There was also a decorative pool of water. We sat by the pool and stuck our feet in. We stayed there for a while, K people watched and I read. We stayed until it started to rain and then we went in search of the museum. When we found it and there was a line and we didn't want to wait in the rain and pay.
We went in search of Vondelpark, which was close by. We walked around the park and took pictures.
This was another place where a ton of people had come to picnic. We decided we would come back and picnic there for dinner. We chose to go back to the hotel and do laundry as there was a laundromat close to the hotel. Afterwards we travelled back to Vondelpark, picked up some picnic dinner and found a good spot in the park to sit down and eat. We enjoyed looking out across the water and people watching. Then we went back to the hotel.
For now we are on Day 6 and we are traveling via train to Berline, will post this as soon as I can. Until next time.
P.S. We made it to Berlin.