A Travellerspoint blog

Netherlands

I Hate Bikes, Officially

rain 15 °C

Today got off to a grand start. I walked into Dam square and rented a bike so I could make my way to the sort of southern part of Amsterdam that I hadn’t seen yet. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t stop me, and I found the Heineken Brewery, my first stop, without a problem. The Heineken Experience was awesome! I figured it would be just like the Guinness tour, it was the same price, but it was ten times better. There were actually people throughout the tour who talked to you and did demonstrations and answered your questions. One up on Guinness right there! It went through the history of Heineken, all the brewing stages (we even got to taste a sample of one of the stages the beer goes through called wort; it was really sweet and weird!) Then we went into like a motion room where we were brewed! Haha, it was cool though, we got splashed with water and tumbled around and stuff and got to see the process from the inside out. Then we learned how to taste the beer, saw old commercials and propaganda, and finally got to the bar at the end. Unlike Guinness, you get 2 free beers at the end, as well as a pretty generous half-pint in the middle of the tour. Very cool and I’m glad I went!
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After that I attempted to go to the Van Gogh museum, but the queue was huge and I couldn’t be bothered to wait in it. I then attempted to find Vondlepark, but took a wrong turn and ended up off my map in the pouring rain. After a couple of tries asking for directions, I finally got onto the right street when the chain fell off of my bike. Great. Two construction guys helped me fix it, and after about 15 minutes it was back to normal… for about 2 more streets when it fell off again!! So I’m pretty frustrated at this point, and I hopped on the tram to get myself back to the station when the tram guy starts yelling at me in Dutch to get my bike out of the tram. I had to ask people if he was talking to me, then I got off. I’ve seen tons of other people bring their bikes on in other cities! So I get off and ask a couple of people if I can take my bike on the bus, and they just stare at me. Didn’t even shake their heads or look away or tell me they couldn’t speak English. I even asked a group of girls around my age and they just stared! I was like, “THANKS.” So now I’m pissed, and completely back to hating Amsterdam and I tried to get a cab and he said he couldn’t take my bike, so I told him it was broken and asked him how I could get back to Dam Square and he said walk. So I freaking did, all the way back to Dam Square, half in tears, stopping for lunch on the way as it was 2 and I hadn’t eaten since 9 and I was starving and angry! These guys asked me to take their picture as I was locking up my bike and I was like, “NO I’m busy,” which now I feel badly about but that’s how frustrated I was. Especially since I had to walk this stupid bike through really busy streets where everyone walks super slow and doesn’t move out of your way, or just stops in the middle of the street to look at their maps. Cool! I was sooo tempted to ditch it in the canal, but all I could think about was how they had a copy of my visa as a deposit, and I think the charges would have been worse than this walk. Once I finally made it back to the bike place I explained what happened and they didn’t charge me for the rental so that was really nice of them, but I was still mad so I stormed back to my hostel and put on some mellow music and just laid down while I relaxed lol. I didn’t know I had this kind of temper!

Last night, plans with the 2 Amsterdammers that I met back in Revy didn't work out, so I had an early night yet again. Today I'm off to Cologne, Germany, and Friday I get to see Max in Nuremberg!!

Posted by kvandervegan 23:07 Archived in Netherlands Tagged bicycle Comments (2)

Amsterdammm

sunny 26 °C

Wow, neglecting the blog a little! Don’t worry I’m back on track, this one might just be a bit long..

On Saturday I got up early and went for a jog around the park in Rotterdam and the port, saw the swan bridge, etc. Felt good to be out and about so early! Had breakfast at the hostel (they had vegan nutella!!) and walked to the train station to do a day trip to Den Haag. Now, I’m not sure if it was the mood I was in or what, but I wasn’t all that into exploring and getting lost, so my trip was short. I didn’t even make it to the beach! But oh well, save it for another trip I guess.
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Yesterday I made my way to Amsterdam fairly seamlessly, and my hostel was a 5 minute walk from the station, which was awesome. I got into Amsterdam not feeling 100% (still) but determined to walk around and at least see a bit of the city that day. I couldn’t check in until after 3 and it was only 1 so I ditched my stuff and walked around. Little did I know my hostel is smack in the middle of the red-light district, so there were stoners and girls EVERYWHERE. Everyone in Amsterdam is high at around 1pm. I mean everyone! So that was a little disheartening as I knew I probably wouldn’t relate to half the people here, unless they came for Anne Frank and the Heineken tour. Cool. Anyways, walked around nonetheless, feeling relatively safe during the day, even though it’s one of the most dangerous streets in Europe! (Don’t be afraid parents, I’ll be fine.)

I went to Madame Tussauds, as I missed out on it in London, and this one was cheaper too. It was pretty good, definitely a good way to kill time anyways. Got to see some (wax) celebs! Haha.
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At around 4 I went back to my hostel to check in. WELL, I get to my room and could hardly make it across to my bed without stumbling on shoes, perfume, and girly crap. It was everywhere. I assumed either the girls who were there were living and working there and set up camp, or were just all together and didn’t care about their shit. I literally had to put my backpack on my bed and sleep with it because there was no where to put it. There were smokes and “mushroom truffle” wrappers and other misc. getting-high objects around the room, so I knew these girls were having their version of a good time. I wandered out again, finding dinner and taking pictures, then spent the rest of the night having a drink at the hostel and calling it in early.

4 am and the lights go on and a group of 7 40+ British/Scottish/Irish ladies stumble into the room and start singing various tunes they’d heard that night. They all sounded like they’ve been chain smoking since they were 3, and were obviously drunk/high/whatever. They didn’t even notice I was there until I rolled over 10 minutes later and were like, “Oh, sorry love, it’s just we’re all togetha an’ didn’t know we’d be sharing’ a room.” I was like, well you are so go to bed! They didn’t, and half an hour later while they were still singing away and chatting, one lady was like, “I must have a cigarette!” and I was not having it. Grumpy as hell, I grabbed my computer and headed out to the lobby to waste time while they went to bed and the room aired out. I went into the lobby and the guy was like, “Sorry you can’t be in here,” and I said, “Oh, sorry, it’s just the old ladies in my room are smoking and it bothers my throat,” knowing full well the reception guy said “NO smoking in the rooms as our smoke detectors are highly sensitive.” Needless to say they got in trouble, and I’m a major tattletale! When I went back into the room they apologized and said they were going to bed, which they did over an hour later after more singing and reminiscing about their evening. Awesome.

Today was much better though; I got up bright and early, trying my best not to wake those super considerate and respectful ladies, only slamming the door on my way out. I hope that gave them all a startle, but somehow I doubt it. They made me really angry! Anyways I walked over to the Anne Frank museum and even though it was only 9:30 am there was already a 15 minute queue. But the museum was really good, very simple and told Anne’s story quite well. You actually walk through the building that the Frank’s hid in during WWII, which was cool as I thought you would just see it from behind a glass wall. Very eye-opening; I can’t imagine what it will be like to see Auschwitz and Dachau.

I had passed a big shopping center on my way to the Anne Frank House, so I checked that out afterwards, which was a bit of a disappointment. But good in a way as I wasn’t tempted to buy anything!! I am learning, and the bank balance is a little startling, so I’m trying to smarten up on my little habit.

I then joined in on the NewAmsterdam free walking tour, which of course, was amazing! The tour guide was a bit perma-fried, but I guess that goes with the city. But he did take us through some cool spots in Amsterdam, and made me see it as much more than just a place for tourists to get high. Actually, I learned a lot about weed on the tour! I learned that most Dutch people hardly smoked the stuff, as it’s so readily available that they get bored quick. Also, even though the coffee shops are legal, they have tons of rules, like no smoking cigarettes in them (wtf?) and lots of little technicalities. Also, it’s legal for them to sell you weed, but it’s illegal for them to buy it off of anyone. So when asked where they get their stuff (because they can only legally grow very little of it) they say something along the lines of, “It magically appears on our backdoor every morning.” Haha, how messed up is that? But our tour guide explained about how much revenue it brings in, what with food consumption because of all the high tourists, how the government gets their taxes, and how millions of dollars are spared from law enforcement normally needed to patrol the use of weed in other countries, and it did make a lot of sense. Maybe something Canada should think about? Not that I’m all for it or anything!
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When I got back into my hostel I crossed my fingers and opened my door expecting the hurricane to still be there, and it was SPOTLESS! I actually went, “HAAAAWWWW” like the clouds had parted and the cleaning angels had come down and got rid of their mess, when I noticed two girls napping and promptly stopped! Haha, little embarrassing. Not too long after, 4 more girls came in and the other 2 woke up, and after telling them my horror story from the night before we realized we were all Canadians! Such a great turn-a-round. We all quickly made friends, and me and Julia and Amanda, the girls who were napping, went downstairs for a drink and then wandered around Amsterdam, including some of the red-light district, as the girls were leaving the next day for home and wanted to see as much as they could.
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Now I’m off to bed and going to see more of the town that I judged at first, but am letting it grow on me.

Posted by kvandervegan 13:34 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Rotterdam

semi-overcast 18 °C

So here's a photo from the Dutch game we played the other night..
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Doesn't really say much but it was really fun. Anyways yesterday Laura and I got up and ready for our day out in Rotterdam. We rented bikes from our hostel and biked around the city. I have the SOREST bum from biking but it was worth it, it was so much fun! The roads here are totally set up for biking, we always had our own lane and lights it's so cool! If only all cities were set up lik this, then everyone would bike around! First we went up the Euromast, which was basically just an expensive view. Then you go up in this sitting room and it spins you around and up the mast, so you see a lot. It made me a little dizzy lol, like it didn't spin that slow! But it was cool. Next we went to an art museum, which was something else. Remember how I don't get art? I REALLY don't get art. We first climbed this rope/net thing and watched these CRAZY weird movies that I swear are only for people who were high. So weird. Next there was a big like, jelly fish thing set up in a big room. I really don't get art. There were tons of well known artists though, like Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and a ton more that Laura went crazy over. I didn't get most of it, like there was a ton of Surrealism art that just was so weird, I just don't get it. Yesterday was a very espensive day, and this museum totally wasn't worth it to me, but it was amazing to Laura. Different people I guess!
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We had sushi for lunch, then we went to the Tropicana swimming center, which was basically an escape to the tropics in a pool, with waterslides and a 'waterbaan' and tunnels and heat lamps, it was cool but super expensive. We only stayed for just over an hour but it was fun.

Then we went to a huge health food store, and I got some stuff to make dinner, and I pretty much just relaxed after that. It was a fun day, but I just cannot bring myself to go out lately, what with the weed everywhere, cigarette smoke (when I JUST got my voice back!) etc. so I had a good night in and an awesome sleep. Off to Den Haag today!

Posted by kvandervegan 00:48 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

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