One city that had been on my mind for a very long time has been the sinful city.. AMSTERDAM. I used to hear my friends who had visited, that it was the most chilled out place to be in. A place where anyone can be what they want to be. No judgements, no perceptions and only FREEDOM to do any and everything (and that too legally).
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So as mentioned in my previous blog about , after the work stuff was over; I had planned for the fun to begin. Amsterdam was going to be my pit stop for the next 3 days before catching my flight back to Delhi.
I had purposely booked a very early morning flight from Barcelona, so that by the time I reached Amsterdam, I would still have almost the whole day to explore the city.
I landed at the airport at 8 am, and now was the task of figuring out how to reach my hostel which was right in the centre of the city.
Unfortunately I had not done my homework to figure out the best and the most economical options to travel out from the Amsterdam airport to city centre. If I had, I would have known to directly take the metro.
However, I walked right out with my luggage and like an inexperienced travelled (shame on me), went and stood in a taxi lane.
By the time my turn came , a Tesla came and stood in front of me. Woahhh…A tesla drive…should I go for it? How costly can it be? Let’s just go for it and think about finance later. After all, how expensive can a taxi ride be…
That is exactly where I went wrong.
As soon as the driver started, I got busy admiring the car and the ambience. I think after 10 mins I casually glanced at the fare meter, and I got a shock. It read 40 Euros. Whatttt…I wasn’t even half way yet and already this much.
After another 5 mins it was 50 Euros. The fares were racing at the speed of light. Oh gosh…This was going to be one costly ride my cost effective hostel.
In the end, I finally reached my destination and paid a whopping 120 Euros for the same. Pheww…
In any case, I was not ready to get my mood spoilt because of anything whatsoever. After all, I was in Amsterdam and that was a dream come true.
I had booked myself in the central area of Amsterdam, near the central metro. My hostel was apparently rated the highest in most hostel sites and I couldn’t wait to check it out.
I was staying for the next 3 days in . This chain also has an Uptown hostel which is also decently located, but still this one was most convenient for my purpose keeping in mind the places I had thought of visiting.
The hostel is located cosily in the midst of a busy lane and one can literally find any and everything like cafes, grocery shops, restaurants etc. within 5 mins of walking distance.
As soon as I walked in, I was met with a very warm reception by the folks on the check in counter. The vibe of the hostel was very warm (in spite of it being freezing outside). It was breakfast time and people were enjoying their hot cuppa coffee with warm breads.
While I got checked in very quickly and was allotted a bed in a dorm (6 bed), however the room was still getting cleaned up and hence I was asked to wait and offered breakfast while I whiled away time. I met few other hosteliers and chatted away with quite a few of them. Mainly I wanted to know what is that they had seen till now in Amsterdam and what are the places they recommend I must visit.
Most popular seemed to be the Anne frank Museum, Heineken Museum, Van Gogh museum, Vondelpark and Red light district.
All noted in my mind and now only had to be planned which day I would go and when.
Soon I was allowed into my dorm where I got my luggage unpacked, freshened up and got ready to head out to explore the city.
The first thing I usually do when travelling to a new city, is to find if there are any Free Walking Tours. Not because I am cheap 🙂 but because these tours in my past experience; have given me an insight of the whole city at a go and help me plan on where all I want to visit in the days that I would spent in the city.
So, quickly I researched and found that there was one FWT planned at 12 PM from the Dam Square.
Dam Square is Amsterdam’s best-known square right in the midst of the city.
As the site of the Royal Palace, Dam square often is the focus of events of national importance — as in the annual Remembrance Day (May 4) ceremonies which take place at the National Monument, commemorating those who died during the Second World War.
It was still just 10.30 am when I stepped out of the hostel and decided I will walk around with a map and just explore. It was drizzling a bit and was quite chilly, however I was well prepared for the same and had layered up adequately.
I walked towards the dam square and took a walk around it. The sight was quite wonderful as the sun was just finding its way out of the clouds, people were clicking happy pictures, pigeons were flying around and there were Royal horse carriages just giving a very classy look to the whole place.
I ended up clicking quite a lot of pics before heading towards another famous building behind the Royal Palace called the Magna Plaza. This erstwhile Main post office was built in the 19th century and is currently one of the popular shopping malls of Amsterdam.
The architecture of the building is Neo- gothic like the several others in this city.
After a quick visit, I decided to walk alongside a canal which is heading out of the Dam Square. There I happened to cross a tourist guide shop where I checked on all the places that were nearby and which I could cover in the next one hour.
One such stop happened to be the ‘Torcher Museum’, which was a 10 mins walk from where I currently was.
The name in itself of the museum was so interesting and thus I decided to visit. The ticket price was 5 Euros for adults.
Once inside, darkness hits the eye. It takes some time to get the eyes adjusted to the lighting. The idea of this museum was to showcase the various forms of torcher that were used in the ancient times. The same was depicted in the form of pictures and the torcher instrument’s were also on display.
The instruments included the scullbreaker, the saw, the sling, thumb screws etc. Gory stuff I tell you. I am glad I was not born in that era.
Once out of the museum, I then quickly walked back to the dam square to find the walking tour group.
The Free Walking Tour people were easy to spot. They all wear a t-shirt with the words walking tour written boldly on the shirt. Once you spot one such person, you can go stand next to them till the whole group meets up.
Usually these groups are very prompt and leave right on time. This time was no different. There were around 15 people in the group and our tour guide was a very chirpy Brit girl called Lisa who had been living in Amsterdam for almost 2 years now.
I was chatting with her before the tour began, and was inspired on how she would visit different countries, take half a year to know the city thoroughly and then become a tour guide which would fetch her a decent income to live comfortably in the city before moving to another city or a country all together.
The whole tour would take around 2.5-3 hours depending on the speed of the group and the questions asked.
Considering I had woken up pretty early in the morning to catch my flight, I had already made up my mind to go sleep for a bit post this walking tour as I would surely be exhausted with all the walking by the end of it.
We started the tour by a quick round of introductions, post which our guide started giving a brief history of Amsterdam. She spoke about how almost everything was legal here, but yet the crime rate was next to negligible.