After flying in from Copenhagen we quickly had to try and figure out Holland’s complex public transit system. From the airport we had to take a train and then Metro to get to the apartment we were staying at on the outskirts of town. This was my first time renting a room through air bnb and it was actually a pretty cool experience. It was nice to be able to unpack and spread our stuff out in the room. The apartment was actually pretty nice we had a good sized bathroom and a kitchen that we were allowed to use. The only downside (which we originally thought to be an upside) was that it was a little ways outside of the city center. We had to then take another Tram to get there each day and realized the money we were saving on the apartment was evened out by how much we spent on transportation.
Our first night there was heavy rain and a crazy lightning and thunderstorm that continued well into the next day. Unfortunately because of the rain everyone had the same idea as us of maybe going to check out one of the museums. But once we saw lines that were clear down the street we decided to just get lost in the city and try and find things on our own. We made it to the iamsterdam letters outside of the Rijksmuseum and walked through the canals looking for the perfect little cafe with outdoor seating where we could have a couple beers. We ended up finding a place in the middle of the BEAUTIFUL Jordaan. It was called Café De Blaffende Vis, which in Dutch means the barking fish. It was there we met 4 Dutch guys that invited us to hang out with them on their little canal boat for the evening. The boat was parked right in front of one of the guys studio apartment on the canal. Talk about prime real estate! They bought a few bottles of rose and picked up some French fries and a Dutch takeaway food they wanted us to try called Kroket. (Which was similar to a giant fried fish stick but was made of beef) It was such a fun evening just sitting on the boat, listening to music, and sharing stories. They were so funny and just wanted to make sure we were having a good time. One of the funniest things that happened was when I told them my name they said they would remember it because there was a popular Dutch song about a girl named Carly. They kept singing it at random throughout the evening and even let me record them. I had now been serenaded in Dutch haha.
The next morning we headed to the grocery store so we could make breakfast and pack a lunch for the day. It felt like we were living there and just going grocery shopping like it was just a normal day. Did I mention it was also way cheaper? We realized we had been in vacation mode with our spending so we needed to reality check and to start just buying and making food. After breakfast we made our way back to the city center and decided to rent bikes for a few hours to see more of the city. We checked out the huge and beautiful Vondel Park and even made some Aussie friends while biking. For lunch we stopped and had a little picnic on the side of the canal as we watched the large boats maneuvering the impossible looking 90 degree turns in the canals. The whole Jordaan was just magical and so gorgeous. I feel like we stopped at every other bridge, to as the Dutch would say, “make a photo”. It was so quiet and peaceful and you could actually hear yourself think. There were hidden cozy little cafés and coffeeshops and it had more of a local vibe. The difference from the city center to the Jordaan area was night and day. Amsterdam square is crowded and busy with so many people everywhere. It’s packed full of tourists and I swear every second you feel as if you are going to get run over by a bike or the tram. Definitely not as organized as Copenhagen. This was more of a free for all and you just had to make sure to get out of the way.
That night we met another local Dutchie named Mark at the barking fish where we found ourselves for the second night in a row. (We really felt like locals now having a go to spot) He was incredibly sweet and bought both Jessica and I drinks and dinner that evening and even offered to show us around. We got a special tour of the less touristy side of town and he also showed us a bit of the very touristy red light district. He even took us down this very narrow street that had the women standing in the red lit windows on both sides. It was kind of creepy, but I guess we couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not walk through it.
But Mark was so nice to us and even walked us to the tram after to make sure we picked the right one and got home safe. I guess I am just amazed at the kindness people have shown us so far. We have been lucky to just meet such genuine good hearted people. It makes me so happy! Even though I have only been traveling a week now I have come to realize that after this trip it’s not going to be the monuments and attractions that I remember, but the people I met while I was there and how they made me feel.
Things I learned here:
1. Locals don’t say they are from the Netherlands, they say Holland
2. The eggs are very fresh in Holland and do not need to be refrigerated 🙂
3. Be on time at the train/ metro/ tram stations or the doors will close and you will get left behind (this will be my biggest feat for everyone who knows how late I always am haha)
In route to Belgium today! Catching 4 different trains to Brugge now. Excited for the beer, the chocolate, and the waffles. In that order haha