Sunday, June 08, 2014

Amsterdam in 3 Days

So we traveled to Amsterdam from Paris via train. Reached the tram / train station at Paris Charles de Gaulle at about 5.00am to catch the 6.15am bus.

We bought our tickets online via Nhispeed and I would strongly recommend you to do the same. There were only a few times the train travels to Amsterdam in a day, and we figured the earliest would be the best. We didn't want to lose any daylight - so it's always best to reach Amsterdam earlier. Best part was, the train ride wasn't as expected. Well it's always fine with me, but I was traveling with a 60 year old mother, so a lot of things do concerned me.

We learned that there were going to be only three stops. Of which you had to literally run your life for, because the transitions were only about 6 - 8 minutes. And with big luggages, it could mean the hunger games run.

Ride to Amsterdam. Kid infront of me was busy selfie-ing with himself :|


Two of the first stops were within France itself. From the first to the second we passed through Bruxxels, which is more famously known as Brussels, Belgium. Belgium wasn't in our list, so skimming through Brussels through the train ride was very pleasant. Brussels looked modern and yet humble at the same time. There were tall buildings around the not so tall ones - and it looked - clean. I also noticed a lot of solar panels installed on their houses, which I find intriguing knowing the fact that they don't really have much sun... I mean compare to us. So if a European country who doesn't have much sun does it, we should really consider for country. Imagine the savings we could have done!





Amsterdam Day 1 

And then we head to third stop, only to find out that there is a bit of a broken link so which means, we have to go to another stop, and then take a bus to another train, and then and only then it will take us to Amsterdam Central. So we did just that, poor mum had to carry some of our items going up and down the stairs from the third stop to the next train, to the fourth stop, to the bus that brought us to the other station and then... to Amsterdam Central.

By the time we reached Amsterdam it was already 1.30pm, and we were beat. And then we stepped outside. And saw how Amsterdam Central looked like from outside. Good God, it was gorgeous. It was such a busy station I got pushed and pulled by the waves of people!


Searching for Linden Hotel seemed a lot easier, because it had proper instructions on how to go about it from the central. We took a bus, about 5 minutes, reached Willemstraat, turn right and I had recognised it already. Oh and also, everyone there speaks great English. Like almost, perfect. In comparison to Paris of course so asking anyone for anything isn't as intimidating as well.

Since it was already mid day, we decided to catch up with some of our Dutch friends we met in Krabi. But we were also very exhausted from all the train traveling that.... we crashed upon reaching the hotel. We passed out from noon till mid evening. We woke up feeling drugged, and decided that it's about time we get acquainted with Amsterdam. Our room had the cutest view of buildings. But I reckon that's how it is in most places in Amsterdam.


Since we were at a perfect location along Jordaan Street, we just walked around walking around taking photos of canals and bikes.


And more bikes. 


And more and more bikes.


We came to Europe and Istanbul for tulips, and flowers, so we did just that. Honestly, between these three destinations, Amsterdam had the most romantic setting. I think it's the bikes, and the canal, and just that everything is within walking distance.

We stopped at a restaurant nearby after walking around, and ordered some fancy stuff before the boys joined in. It was good catching up with them, and trying out some typically Dutch meatballs. We went back to the hotel after a quick tour around Jordaan and learning a thing or two about what are typically Dutch and what aren't from them.


Amsterdam is so beautiful at night. The picture below felt like from a magazine where the canals light up at night and full length window panels beam with parties and gatherings from inside the house. Very lovely.



Amsterdam Day 2

Mum and I promised each other that we would wake up at 7.00am. Like pinky promise. And well, it never happened. We woke up slightly before 8am, and still took our own sweet time getting ready. That's the thing about traveling on your own, you are free to do anything. We left the hotel around 9am, and decided to walk around looking for breakfast. These were some of sights we stumbled upon as we walked around.






We took a turn to the right.... and that was it. We got "trapped" into a street market. We told ourselves that we'll just "look around" for interesting things.... ended up doing a full blown shopping from souvenirs, to earrings, to rings, to dresses, to home deco. Instead of shopping for an hour, it got stretched to 3 hours.





OMG.

But we were both happy!! There was no one else telling us what not to do, especially not shopping on a random Monday morning in Amsterdam. We could do anything!


I bought a lot of interesting stuff - some of the items were wood carvings and self painted hooks.


After finally done with the shopping, we decided to head all the "tourist attractions" like Anne Frank House. BUT THERE WERE JUST TOO MANY PEOPLE. Spring in Netherlands is still cold, and I nearly froze to death while walking around in my sandals (we'll catch up on that) and I couldn't do that to my mum.


So we missed Anne Frank and decided to just leisurely walk until we stumbled upon a cheese museum.

Curious kid is curious.


Learned a thing or two from the museum, and dude got super excited I was from Malaysia he showed me this Sambal cheese. At first he showed me this Chinese characters and I went, "ur what". And was like "you don't understand Malaysian words??". I didn't know how to break it to him, that not all Malaysians are Chinese, so I searched around through this huge bulk of cheese and found "Sambal". AHH - yes I know!



That's when I bought my Dutch cheese. I love love love Pesto pasta, so I decided to purchase it, and make me own Pesto Pasta. YUMMM


Moving on, we stumbled upon the *halo* TULIPS MUSEUM *halo*. Mum got super excited, she barged in and started rummaging through everything inside the museum. Too cute.


Eventually she bought all sorts of things to bring back home :)

And then we continued our walk...... when it rained like cats and dogs. Stopped for a bit and had some apple and bacon pancakes.


We found a tour agent (tour agents are perfect for mummy) that fixes the 48 hours hop on hop off bus, and a trip into the famous country side for the next day which was Zaanse Schaans.  Throughout the day, we took selfies that could probably last us a lifetime.


When we were finally done with Jordaan, we decided to use the hop on hop off again. This seems to be the best method, especially for mum since this not only is easy on her legs, taking the bus means you're sheltered from the cold too.

We heard about the public park Vondel Park, so we stopped by just to take in more parks in our trips. Like I said earlier, Europe is big on parks, and their parks are beautiful! Mum and I were leisurely spending our noon munching cookies by the tulips taking photos, playing with ducks - by the time we realise, nearly 2 hours passed.




So we decided that woops, it's time to head back to the bus. If there was one particular thing that we wanted to go, it Rijksmuseum. I had seen its glory in the pictures and I loved anything that has to do with history and arts, and Rijksmuseum is just that. With over 8000 pieces of arts pieces and objects complete with the most advanced multimedia enhancement.


Thousands of artpieces, one really reached out to me. Actually a lot did, but I couldn't snap the whole. This to me speaks about humanity the most, I liked it. 



Since Amsterdam is massive on canals, it is only right for us to do a canal cruise. After a whole day of hopping in and hopping out and checking out what beautiful Amsterdam was, we decided to end the evening with a cruise. Learned a thing or two about its history (water management) and how expensive the canal houses.



Amsterdam Day 3

We bought our countryside tour tickets yesterday, so you could say our third day was pretty covered.

Before we hopped into the bus that took us to Zaanse Schaans, I snuck into the sex museum along red district to check out the what the fuss is all about. The welcoming prop of a guy jerking to himself was very in your face, but as you go in and read more about the history of pornography and prostitution, you will learn so much more then you would imagine at its welcoming.

I was probably among the only few Asian in that museum and I wasn't sure whether I was the only one who had an estranged face the first few minutes into the museum, so I had to constantly pull a straight face reading and looking into those very graphic photos and 3D props around the museum.

Actually, I wanted to laugh more than anything. Haha. There were a few interactive things like, telephone sex and some photos. I'm only sharing you this artpiece because I think some of them are provocative enough (I try not to offend anyone), and I recommend you to head there yourself :p


Zaanse Schaans is a very famous country side in the Netherlands because they were one of the earliest people in the world to have engineered the windmill. If you heard the guide speaking, you would have figured that the Dutch are probably one of the smartest colonial pioneers. "The Netherlands" basically means "low lands" so everywhere in Netherlands you see either canals or these huge modern windmills, that derived from the older ones. I was in awe all the time. The idea of a windmill (If I get it correctly) is too make sure the water flows continously using its strong wind resource from the "area with heavy water" to "the other side". The windmills manage this "water issue" to make sure that water flows well throughout the country. The first thing that came to my mind was, "do they ever get floods?". Well yes the tour guide answered my thought, just only in 1953, they had one of the biggest flood ever and this water management improvised and revolutionized as the year goes. And I love, the fact that the Dutch would say we must learn "to live with the water, and don't fight it." And ever since my trip to Yogyakarta last year, and learning about cosmic harmony, I truly believed that God have decided to put us where we are for us to make use of our full resources.

Check out as I intently listen to the dude describing the history of windmills. 


When we finally had some time to sneak around for some pictures.



One of the best part about this particular guide was the fact that they brought us into the interior lanes of the countryside, where we see the most beautiful houses ever. We were told that these house owners knew exactly about being where they are as part of a tourist destination, so some of the houses were done up real nice. It's like in the magazine! From its exterior to the colour schemes. Beautiful.  


We reached the hotel really late from the countryside. Because we had an early flight to catch to Istanbul, I was contemplating whether to go Red Light District late that night... but I figured I really should. Since I've traveled this far, I might as well inhale a little bit more of the town.

They prohibited any direct photography so there were not much photos I could share with you here. I must say though, I would never have been able to see anything like that in Malaysia. Ever. Probably in my wildest dreams, even that maybe not. The neon red lights everywhere, and the fact that you could skim through any lady you preferred and walk right into for any action as you like. At first, I admit, I was uncomfortable. Slowly, it turned into amusement. I knew if I had showed somekind of disheartened I might as well never be there. So I embraced the culture and loved the fact that everyone is so chilled about things there.

Live shows, weed cafes were among the few that I came across and walked into.

I loved Amsterdam.

I loved the fact that it's kind of a romantic place to be in, with its bikes, its canals, its easy lanes, its tulips, its sex. It's romantic and I figured could be well a place of a choice for your honeymoon. Try going during Spring though, Tulips blooming everywhere is a sight to be hold. And try going Keukenhoff Gardens! The colourful lightbulbs will be amazing.

Let me know if you need any recommendations or advices! :)

- Paris in 3 Days
- Istanbul in 3 Days
- Paris, Amsterdam and Istanbul Overview

Love,
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

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