Recently I’ve had the pleasure and the chance to visit a unique and wonderful city, none other than the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam.
Since I’m currently living in Arnhem -a city in the Netherlands- the site that greeted me was Amsterdam Centraal, the central station for trains.
And my God. Talk about a clash….I’m used to the peaceful quiet Arnhem, not the hustle and bustle of a big city, and arriving on a Sunday afternoon was a big shock, an uncountable amount of people all around.
I have, to be honest, and admit that for a moment I kinda felt claustrophobic, I’m not used to crowds anymore. Twenty minutes in and all I could see were french (sorry) Dutch Fries and the pungent scent of weed, all wrapped in an autumnal blinding light…again kinda weird.
But at the time I had a mission -the same as any tourist upon arrival- getting to the hostel, with google Maps at had it wasn’t that difficult, but to my amazement, the hostel was in none other than the famous Red Light District…I had no prior idea, but then again it was bloody central.
Regarding the hostel itself, there isn’t much that can be said…a budget hostel in a big European city.
Since it was a three-day visit I was traveling light, and therefore I decided to carry everything through the city.
And thus the first day had officially begun. As in a classic Tom fashion, I had no itinerary, no map, no idea of what I wanted to do, so I did what I do best, I got lost.
I think that there is a magical beauty of getting lost during the day in a foreign city, especially nowadays where a “Google maps” is a few swipes of indicating the way home.
So I took it to myself to wander through the canals (on foot) and get a feel of the city vibes. I strongly believe that cities much as people have and aura, an energy, a signature if you will, and like so my first day in any city is dedicated to getting to know that aura. And so I did. From the busy and overcrowded streets that go and originate from pretty much everywhere, filled with bars, cafes, and coffee shops, bring the scent of both beer and weed, to the cheese shops that thankfully had no scent, to the more quiet streets outside the heart of the city, where world-renowned buildings and museums shine.
Although I’ve seen much, and walked a lot on that day I can’t exactly recall the names of the streets and places, but according to my Fitbit I’ve walked a total of 18km that day. And in that distance, we can find not only a trip to Foodhallen, a sort of food market, like the American Food truck congregations, but in kiosk form, and with food from all corners of the earth, Korean Fired chicken, Bitterballer, Scotish Beef, filling the rather small space with an intense yet mellow aroma (I know that that sentence is a bit contradictory), wich was met by an intense atmosphere of people ordering and moving around, if not by my already sore feet that was a unique landscape, that until I’ve stumbled upon a Vietnamese shop was turning rather grim, as there seemed to be no Vegan/Vegetarian options, and found their delicious Goin cuon, filled with tofu, mint and coriander. That was something else.
The day ended with a trip back to the hostel, but not before going through the (in)famous Red Light district.It’s more of an experience than anything else, not at all for the weak of stomach or the easily offended, but if you are over 18 and wanna know what the fuss is all about sure. But again it might be weird. Honestly, I’m not going to judge nor the ones offering services nor the ones utilizing such services, hell it is considered the world’s oldest profession. And since apparently the legal matter and the human trafficking is somehow (if not completely) out of the question. It was honestly quite disturbing to see these woman, like that as they were merchandise to be consumed, but apart from that, the mundane expression of the aforementioned mistresses was somehow making all of this being even weirder. But hey…like Søren Kierkegaard would defend…embrace the absurd. And like so I headed back to the hostel.
To a blissful and fulfilling night of sleep….only not…arround 23.00, a Norwegian drunk guy entered, stating that his flight was and I quote “LATE AS BALLS BRO” dunno who he was talking too …. but ok. The rest of the night was the “hostel” standart…quiet enough to rest a bit, but not that deep. So at 7 am I was up and running, but had to wait a full hour for a flimsy and dull free breakfast… well … at least it was included in the night fare.
So this brings us to day two, a day that began with a long hard stroll from the Red Light District to Museumplein. Where the very touristic I AMsterdam letters live… Due to the colors of this installation, I prefer to see it as I am Sterdam. At this moment I had the choice of either going to the Van Gogh museum or to the Stedelijk -Modern Art museum.
The choice could not be easier.
Modern art it is! And before anyone points any finger, I’m a huge sucker for modern art, and so far I tried to visit every modern art museum I had the chance, and I already visited the van, Gogh, one when I came to visit Amsterdam with my parents on 6th grade, and it’s not like little old Vincent is still painting.
So…Stedelijk… The main exhibit was focused on Jean Tinguely, and it was really interesting, his works are somehow chaotics yet orderly, from sculptures from scrap to automated robots even some sculptures that would “create art”. Really amazing stuff. But let’s move on, some other exhibits focused on the best of Dutch Design, and there was a prominence on the 60’s and 70’s. Gosh, I suck at reviewing museums.
Ok, let us move on then. By now the clock was approaching midday, and an event that hopefully will be the key was going to happen at trhee o’clock, Im not going into much detail for now, but so that no imagination runs too wild, It was a coaching session. This meant using public transportation.
Well at roughly 5Pm I was back on Museumplein, and hungry like a wolf (get it?). Again the choice was not difficult…The restaurant I had the best memories of … Hard Rock cafe! Surprisingly I didn’t have to break my Veggigan habits.
Then a little more walking, that due a technical error (no cell phone battery) was a LOT longer than expected. As I got lost at an alarming rate.
TO finish off the third day was a simple one, Anne Franks house, a touching house/museum that got me a bit pissed off. No wait…not the museum itself, but the visitors who would take silly selfies with some artifacts like it was a laughable item… oh well.
Then to finish off the tour I got a barbershop haircut and on the day the shop won an Award for best barber in the Netherlands 2016. And so this ends my tour of the capital, of course this isn’t the full tale, but not only something is left to the imagination but when it comes to tourism I’m more of a wanderer, and so telling the tale of a journey is sometimes difficult. All in all, it was a kickass journey.