The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. -G.K. Chesterton
If Munich was bad, Amsterdam was even worse. Exhaustion and illness and homesickness all just added up to me wanting to be done. I don’t think it made things any easier that more than one of my friends had made Amsterdam sound like the best place on the planet.
The moment I arrived I was overwhelmed. I’d spent most of the day on the train and arrived in the late evening. And even on a weekday night the streets were insanely crowded! Can I blame John Green or something for making every little girl think Amsterdam is a fairy tale land?
I’m only half kidding. I began feeling overwhelmed just walking to my hostel, I dropped my things and set out to find food, hoping that filling my stomach might help me feel a little more at ease.
I found a place that had good tripadvisor reviews, because again my hostel did the “anything on this street is awesome” thing that I hate. Please don’t do this hostels. It doesn’t help.
It was called Het Karbeel, and it was a fondue place but also had some good looking dishes. I wasn’t sure how much the fondue would be for one person, but ended up wishing I’d done it because the people next to me had it and it looked amazing. Anyhow, I had a broccoli soup and then chicken with a cream and mushroom sauce which was amazing. So delicious. Also loved that shortly after I arrived and was seated, people started being turned away because the restaurant was so full up. It was a fun place with good food and decent prices. I’d highly recommend it, but make sure you call ahead for a reservation.
After that I walked back to my hostel and decided to have an early night since I was so sick.
The hilarious thing was it was Halloween. And every single person in my room and apparently decided to go party.
It wasn’t really a surprise. I was staying at a hostel called Durty Nelly’s Inn, which was right over a bar. Clearly it was meant to be a party zone. Finding out later it was one block from the redlight district…well…
Needless to say my night was not restful. Lots of noise outside, tons of people stumbling in at different hours of the night…a few whispering “wow someone’s already in bed” which was funny.
The next morning I roused myself semi-early and went down to the free breakfast in the bar. I sat there for over an hour and just gorged myself for a while which was nice. After that I headed out for my walking tour.
I’ve plugged Sandeman’s tours before but I’ll do it again. Free tours are often the best, especially from reputable groups that try to do a really good job and hire good workers.
The tour was very fun. Amsterdam is a cool city, but again I think it’s too easy to just walk past canals and not know the significance of what I’m seeing. Having a guide to tell me some stories was helpful.
I enjoyed it so much that I figured maybe it would be good to do another tour. So I signed up for the Redlight District one, figuring it was a big part of Amsterdam but certainly not something I felt comfortable doing myself.
I also purchased a ticket for the Rijksmuseum determined that after my tour I’d head straight there and enjoy it.
Unfortunately for whatever reason the tram I tried to take there seemed to be going in a different direction? And also hit every bit of traffic possible, thoroughly wasting my time.
I had to hop off. I was not feeling patient enough to just sit and watch myself get further and further away. And I wasn’t in the mood to try to ask someone about it or anything else. So I just stepped off at the next stop and started walking back towards the center of town.
After a little crying, ranting to my mother and a friend, I found a restaurant to rest and recharge at called La Oliva. Had a hamburger, because what the heck I just wanted to go home…and at that point was almost thinking back to the United States version of home. Yay homesickness (good topic for another post). It was pretty good actually, although incredibly messy with a piece of bread for a bun instead of the normal type.
I sat there for more than an hour and definitely cried a bit as I ate, thinking how much I’d been excited to go to Amsterdam and how disappointed I now was. That’s part of travel sometimes. Having expectations built up and then having them not work out. You just have to learn to live with it.
I did stop by the Anne Frank House and tried standing in line for a bit to see how long it might take without a reservation. Waited fifteen minutes and had barely moved in line, so I decided it wasn’t worth it…especially not in the freezing cold. If you want to go, make sure you have reservations. I learned the hard way.
Back to the hostel for a bit. I rested and wrote some blog posts and had some time to talk with friends before finally heading out to catch my tour of the Redlight District.
If you’re interested in seeing the district but are like me and shy and maybe are by yourself, I definitely recommend Sandeman’s tour. Not too expensive and it was very interesting and informative, and I had a really good time.
After that I grabbed a waffle with chocolate sauce at a place the guide had recommended and then was off to bed again, because again I was too tired to do much else besides crash.
Amsterdam was definitely not my best on the trip. Again, it’s just something that you have to accept in traveling. I’d suggest to fellow travelers to rest up and make sure you have enough time in each city. Do your research to know about reservations and such, and then just make the most of bad situations. And in the end just enjoy what you end up seeing. It’s part of the fun, and things will turn out okay in the end.
So last fall break Eurail post! If you’ve missed the others I can link you to them. I leave you the list below so you can catch up! I might do a summary as well, but no promises. To be honest in the next few days I’m going to be setting off on another trip! So hey, I’ll try to do better on getting updates for that one up sooner.
Eurail journey 2016: