Saturday, August 11, 2012

Is Amsterdam a good cure for jet lag?

We finally made it to Amsterdam, wrecked after an almost 25 hour journey. It took us a little while to escape the airport, but we got into a taxi and headed towards our hostel, Hans Brinker. We found our room to be very simple, but it's all we needed for the two nights. After having about a total of six hours sleep and having developed kankles, we needed to freshen up before we met up with an ex-workmate of J's downstairs, who was also staying at the hostel. We took advantage of the bar's happy hour special; two for one, making our pints of Heineken two Euros each, they went down a little too well, needless to say drinking beer is not the answer to jet lag since we both started falling asleep at the next bar we went to.
We woke up still sleepy, but needed to make the most of our free breakfast. We decided to hire bikes from the shop right next door to the hostel, Mike's Bikes. Mike's offered a bike for the whole day for eight Euros or ten for insurance, because apparently the biggest crime in Amsterdam is bike theft. Wow, my second time navigating my way around Amsterdam on a bicycle, was still exciting and extremely scary, especially for Australians where we drive on the left hand-side of the road. Neither J and I drive at home, so we found it easy following the crowd. What an adrenaline rush, not only are their and obscene amount of people riding bicycles in Amsterdam, but then you have cars, trams and during tourist season, a crap load of pedestrians. But we survived, well just because guess who fell off her bike, yeah me of course, clumsy Morgan, trying to copy J on hopping my bike up onto the footpath was not a great idea. Though a friendly local, was nice enough to ask if I was okay and joined me in laughing at myself.
It was before 10 in the morning, so there weren't many cafes open around the flower markets, but we were desperate to try pancakes in Amsterdam. Having tried them last time and knowing how good they are and also because J and I believe ourselves to be pancake connoisseurs we were desperate to try them. We rode our bicycles over to Dam Square and had a look at the Royal Palace, then returned to the Old Dutch Pancakes cafe where I ordered the banana pancakes, while J ordered the straweberry pancakes. Both were delicious and were a great treat after almost dying on our bicycles to get there.
We rode back through all the people, bicycle and tram traffic to the safety of our hostel to meet our friend to see what she was up to. She had also hired a bike, and all three of us rode over to the Van Gough Museum. Well again, being tourist season, the line was enormous. Which is expected of most of the attractions in Amsterdam. J and I didn't have an, I Amsterdam city card and had to slog it out in the ticket line, where our friend got to jump right through. Definitely recommend buying one when you visit Amsterdam. Wow, it felt good to tick off something on my bucket list, having done art in high school and always having an interest in it, it was great to see Van Gough's famous pieces including: his self portrait, Sunflowers and Almond blossom and many items from his earlier work.
J and I decided we had to do the Heineken Experience while we were here in Amsterdam, having both only been to the XXXX Brewery in Milton, Brisbane near home, we weren't sure what to expect. Unlike the XXXX Brewery, Heineken is no longer brewed on the same premises where the experience is held. Though they still have a few of the original copper boiling pots on display there. The Heineken Experience, was well, a great experience. Lots of fun, especially when getting to the taste testing part of the tour where you're given a small pot of beer to drink with the rest of the tour group, if you answer a question correctly, like I did, you get another free sample of the tasty golden beverage.
We returned to the hostel to meet up with our friend for dinner where we headed down the road from the hostel to a place J and I discovered earlier that morning walking around trying to find an ATM. Along what seems like a touristy strip, lined with heaps of foreign food restaurants, we went into this restaurant claiming to sell traditional Dutch food. For sixty Euro, we got 3 mains, 1 starter and a bottle of wine, which seemed like a good deal, especially when the food was tasty, comforting and filling. Especially mine, traditional Dutch 'hopscotch,' mash potato mixed with vegetables(mine was with sauerkraut).
Later on, we bought a bottle of wine, and sat down by the canal near the Red Light District and drank it, people watching as we went. The Red Light District, what can I say, been there done that?! The last time I visited Amsterdam, I saw a live sex show along with my new found friends I'd made on the Topdeck tour, and what happens on tour, stays on tour, right. I was completely grossed out by the actual live sex show, the strippers, weren't as bad. We walked around the neon lit windows, where it almost went into a pattern of what you saw: curtain, girl, curtain, curtain, curtain, girl and so fourth. And like the rest of Amsterdam, there is always the lingering smell of weed hanging in the air. What can I say the Red Light District in Amsterdam, is still an experience, no matter how many times you visit.
Then we accidentally missed our first Eurail train to Berlin the next morning, having read the time on our ticket wrong. You seductive mistress of a city Amsterdam, you made our jet lag worse. But wow your an experience you never forget, I'm sure we'll meet again and again.

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