Monday, November 20 2023, 01:32 UTC
Guess who's back? I might be a bit late, but here I am as promised. This is the Amsterdam Trip blog post :^)
My flight was scheduled for 6:10am from Milano Malpensa. It's quite a distance from where I live, so we had to set off pretty early. Around midnight, we hopped in the car and started our journey. It's a three-hour drive, so I brought some pillows for comfort and put on some music to try and catch some more sleep. However, I ended up not sleeping at all and just listened to music.
After the long drive, we finally arrived at the airport. We left the car in the long-term parking and took the shuttle bus to Terminal 1. Upon arrival, we noticed our flight was actually departing from the other terminal. The airline had mistakenly given me the wrong terminal in the email, so we took a taxi to the correct one. By the time we got there, it was already 4:30 am, so we decided to grab breakfast. As soon as our flight got a gate assigned, we headed straight for it, went through security, and after waiting a bit more, it was time to board the plane. We took off right on time, and here are a couple of pictures:
The weather wasn't the best, which made for a pretty bumpy ride, but I managed to get some sleep nonetheless. In 2 hours, we were in Amsterdam! As soon as we landed, we headed straight for the trains. With 5 bucks, you can get from the airport right to Amsterdam Centraal, which is the train station right in the center of Amsterdam. So we bought a ticket and boarded the train. On the ride, there was this Italian girl crying her eyes out because of a breakup or her boyfriend not being able to come along with her. Bit awkward to witness on public transport.
Anyway, we reached our destination. There was some light rain and it was cloudy, but the city was as beautiful as I remembered! I haven't mentioned it before, but this was my second time there. I first visited in August 2020 with a friend. The heat was unbearable then, and with COVID-19 still in full swing, we had to wear masks, which made the heat even worse. Despite that, we had a great time.
Back to this trip. I was keen to see Chet Baker's memorial plaque, which I didn't even know existed during my first visit. I actually found out about it while watching Ted Lasso! Since it was really close to the station, we didn't even drop off our luggage and went there right away. Here it is:
This plaque is located right outside the hotel where he stayed when he died, which is Hotel Prins Hendrik. The circumstances of his death and the plaque being there are a bit morbid, but I still felt like I wanted to pay my respects.
After that, we headed to the hotel. We decided to stay at The Old Quarter, which was nearby, not even a 5-minute walk. We checked in and went to our room to drop off our luggage. The room was quite nice for what we paid. I definitely recommend it if you're planning to visit. It only had one minor flaw, but we'll get to that later.
Once we sorted out our stuff, we went out again for a walk around the city. It's a beautiful place to stroll around, despite its trash problem. Eventually, we made our way to a pancake place called Mama Pancake, which I believe is a chain. We were pretty hungry, so that was gonna be our second hobbit breakfast.
After that, we started exploring museums and walked to Museumplein, also known as the museum square. There, we decided to visit the House of Bols. It's a really cool interactive experience about one of, if not the oldest distillery in the world, dating all the way back to 1575! This distillery makes genevers, gins, vodkas, and some other liqueurs, which you get to taste as a free drink at the end of the experience. I definitely recommend it, it's very much worth the price.
Once we finished, we were pretty tired due to the lack of sleep the night before, so we went back to the hotel for some rest. I slept for about an hour, and when I woke up, it was already around 6 pm. I wasn't particularly hungry, so I just went downstairs to the hotel lounge for a beer and a quick snack, chilled a bit there, hung out with the hotel cat, and watched people go by in the street. Around 7 pm, I went back up to my room, took a shower, and watched YouTube until it was time to sleep.
We all woke up at around 10 am, went to a breakfast place, and got waffles. Then, we headed straight to the flower market where there were lots of tulips with really wild shapes and colors that I had never seen before.
We spent around two hours there and then went for a walk around the city, passing by Dam Square, some drawbridges, and lots of canals.
(The last two pics are from my first trip)
The others I was with wanted to visit the NEMO Science Museum. I had already seen it during my first visit, and it seemed more suited for kids, so I just told them how to get there and let them go on their own. I figured this was a good time to try a weed edible, so I headed to a nearby dispensary and got a brownie. Here it is:
Now, I made a mistake. I didn't ask the guy who sold it to me how much THC the brownie had. He just told me to eat half, and it would be like smoking a gram. But I wasn't sure if he meant the whole brownie was like smoking a gram or only half was. Oh well, here goes nothing..
I ate a quarter of it. I didn't feel much for an hour, so I ate another quarter. Thirty minutes later, I started to feel it. It was more of a warm sensation than an actual high, and I was a bit more giggly. I decided to eat the other half too. Some more time passed, and I really started to feel it. Music sounded amazing, and everything was pretty funny. The one downside was that I felt like what I imagine ADHD is like; it took all my strength to focus on something. Overall, it was a very nice experience for the better part of five hours.
As I said before, I made a mistake. I got a weed hangover. After asking a friend who smokes, I realized I definitely went way too high on the dosage for a first-timer. Oh well.
By 7 pm, we were all pretty hungry, so we went out to eat. I know it's a very touristy thing to do, but we wanted to eat pizza, and I knew this really awesome authentic Neapolitan spot. La Zoccola Del Pacioccone, the prices they have are borderline criminal, but the pizzas are so good. Please give it a try if you're ever there! Again, I didn't take pics, I was just enjoying the trip this time around, but here are some from the first time I went:
Right after that, I really wanted to go to this cool jazz bar, Jazz Cafe Alto. This place was also mentioned in Ted Lasso, although the scenes in the show weren't filmed at the actual location. Here's the place from outside and a video from that night.
It was getting pretty late by then, so we headed back to the hotel. After a quick shower, it was straight to bed.
We woke up pretty early and went downstairs for breakfast, which was quite expensive. But I'll get to the prices later, in my conclusions. Although, Mikey, the hotel cat, made the price worth it. Here's a picture and painting of him.
That day, we decided we wanted to see some more museums, so we each bought an Amsterdam City Card which lets you use public transport and enter lots of museums for free. If you pack a lot of activities into a day, you end up saving a lot of money!
With our newly acquired city cards, we took the tram to Museumplein and visited the Rijksmuseum. I had seen it during my first visit, but not in its entirety due to time constraints. Now that I've seen it all, I can say it's by far my favorite museum in Amsterdam. I didn't even take pictures because I was so immersed in it. It's 100% worth the time and price, so if you get the chance, please go see it. For context, the museum is about Dutch art and history, with each section divided by historical periods, starting from the year 1100 on the first floor all the way to the 2000s on the top floor. The lower floors have a modern look, and once you reach the floor where the main art hall is, you'll see the beautiful old architecture come through. All in all, it took us about two and a half hours at a really relaxed pace to see everything there.
Since the Rijksmuseum took quite a bit, we decided to go straight into the next museum to not waste much time. We went for the Moco Museum, which I hadn't seen before. To be honest, I didn't really enjoy it much. It's a modern art museum, so I understand it can be quite polarizing, but everything there felt very hipster-ish and pretentious. Some of Banksy's work was displayed there too, which I had never given much thought about, but after seeing it, I kind of see him as overrated and predictable. Then again, I don't know much about modern art, so this is just the opinion of ignorant me :^).
By the time we came out of the Moco Museum, it was already noon, and we were starting to get hungry, so we got some really yummy French fries from a stand in the square/park.
We spent the rest of the afternoon just walking around the city, exploring places we hadn't seen yet.
Evening eventually rolled in, and with the city card, canal cruises were included so we went for one. Again, I didn't take pictures because I was pretty into it. It was so beautiful going around the canals with all the lights on in the evening dusk. There was also an audio guide that explained the history of the city from its founding to the 90s to today, also explaining things like the architectural quirks of the houses built there. But anyway, I'll talk more about architecture in my conclusions.
After the canal cruise, which lasted about an hour, we just headed back to our hotel room and ate some junk food we got from a convenience store. We went to bed shortly after that.
We all woke up pretty late. I wasn't feeling well but decided to go out anyway. So, after another breakfast at the hotel, we went to the flower markets again to get tulip bulbs for my grandmas :D. While walking there, there was this one guy who was either mad or high on something. He started grabbing full trash bags from the side of the road and throwing them onto oncoming traffic. It was hilarious and confusing at the same time.
After walking around some more, I started feeling even more sick, so I headed back to the hotel on my own. It was already noon, and I ended up spending the whole afternoon there. Towards evening, I started feeling better, so we all went out to eat one last time. The restaurant isn't even worth mentioning, it was very mediocre. After that, we just went back to the hotel, took a shower, and went to bed.
Now, this isn't when I tell you what we woke up the next day, because remember when I mentioned that the hotel had a flaw? Paper-thin walls. At around 3 am, we were woken up by REALLY loud moaning. This girl was full on banshee screaming and gave absolutely 0 fucks about it. No kidding, it went on for half an hour, 'till hotel staff went to her room and told her to shut the fuck up, lmao.
We eventually woke up around 9 am, enjoyed one last breakfast at the hotel, and promptly prepared our luggage. By 11 am, we had checked out, but we left our luggage at the hotel so we could take one last stroll around the city. We stopped at a bar, enjoyed a drink, and chatted with some locals. After a while, we returned to the hotel to get our luggage and say goodbye to Mikey. By 3 pm, we were on our way to Centraal train station. We purchased our tickets and bid farewell to the city as we got on the train to the airport.
To wrap up, here are some key points I'd like to discuss:
• Prices: There's no denying it, Amsterdam is one of the most expensive cities in all of Europe. If you plan to visit, be prepared to pay steep prices for even basic things.
• Cleanliness: A family friend who used to visit in the early 2000s told me that Amsterdam used to be spotless. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case. The city seems to be struggling with a noticeable trash problem.
• Red Lights District: I didn't mention it earlier, but during our many walks, we passed by the Red Lights District, both during the day and at night. Regardless of the time, it's a pretty depressing and squalid place to be, unless you have a specific reason to visit...
• Food and Restaurants: The diverse nature of the city has made it a melting pot of cultures. However, its touristy nature has made it difficult, if not impossible, to find authentic local food. Instead, you'll find a plethora of generic, mediocre, and expensive food from around the world.
• Architecture: This is a major highlight of the city. Amsterdam's architecture is simply beautiful. You'll notice some common features in the houses, such as their permanent pulley system at the top, slanted structures due to sinking or rotting wooden poles, and the narrowness of some houses due to the width of the plots in the 17th century. The steep stairs inside the houses, designed to save space, can be quite dangerous.
• Bikes: Well as the bicycle capital of the world how could I not talk about them. Let me tell you Amsterdam is FULL of bikes, you'll hardly get the scale of if until you actually see it. They're pretty nice to go around, but watch out for the locals on them, they'll eat you alive, they're like italians with cars. Another cool thing is that you'll see some pretty weird bikes you probably have never seen before, like the "cargo" bikes with a box in between the handle and the front wheel. You'll see people carry everyday stuff in them or even their kids.
• Mikey: Simply best cat ever, worth the trip, I'd go back just for him <3
Overall I did enjoy the trip a whole lot, it's a place with so much character, one way or a another it will keep you entertained!
P.S.: I know you're probably wondering why we didn't go to van gogh's museum. We had planned to go the day before departing as it wasn't free with the city card, but forgot to book it in advance and as we were trying to last minute, we saw it all booked. Then later found out you can just show up there and go in without booking a specific time. Oh well.
Thanks for the long wait and the words of encouragement, I really appreciated it!