(Warning: Crazy long, because I literally talk about the whole trip and what went down.)
I spent approximately 2 nights in Amsterdam right after I had visited Cologne, Germany. I figured Amsterdam was small enough to explore in 2 days because Paris (where I was headed after) was way bigger and required more days to explore. I only extended a week after The Big Blog Exchange in Germany, so my time was quite limited. I chose Amsterdam to visit because of four things:
- The city of sin
- It’s absolutely beautiful
- Canal houses
- Anne Frank House
I stayed at The Bulldog Hostel, which I later found out was famous for The Bulldog Cafe and their special brownies. And no, I did NOT get high in Amsterdam. It just didn’t seem right considering I was a) all alone and b) didn’t want to be high while touring… although everyone smokes pot so you could easily get high from secondhand smoke. I kid you not, I got several bad headaches from walking behind people smoking pot. If you’re wonder if staying at a non-Hosteling International hostel was scary, it wasn’t. Just make sure to check reviews and when you book a room (if you’re traveling alone) tick the option to stay at a girls dorm. I met two girls, one Swedish and one Norwegian, when I first got there. They were nice, and even invited me out with them but I had to decline because I was tired from touring and had an early start the next day.
On my first day in Amsterdam, I arrived a little past lunch time. I think the first thing I did was to look for the Waterlooplein Fleamarket since it was apparently in walking distance from my hostel according to my printed Google Maps map. Also, the Waterlooplein market was open all days of the week until 5pm while most flea markets are open only on certain days and at limited hours. I was walking around to just explore, I ended up ditching my map because I was already getting lost anyway (all streets look the same, canal houses look the same, and when you think you’ve passed the same bridge, it’s actually a different one, because they all fricken look the same!)
I stumbled into Waterlooplein by accident, and the street running along it had random thrift stores as well. I walked into a few of them and realized that “thrift” did not actually mean cheap, but it was still interesting to look around. There was even one customer who came walking around the shop with her German Shepherd, she was decked out in a very colorful and flamboyant outfit, which I can only assume she picked up at various thrift shops as well. Even her dog was decked out in ruffles. She looked liked she escaped from the circus. I loved it! On my way out of the shop, a petite Asian girl gave me a smile as I passed her, I smiled back. I was thinking, “That’s odd, Asians don’t usually smile at other Asians… That’s more of a Western thing.” and then she stopped me and said, “Are you a blogger?” how the heck did she know? “Yes…?” I say kind of taken aback. She smiled again and asked me if I was from Tumblr, the blogger with blue hair (my hair was already pink when I left for Europe). I told her about Wild Spirit and she basically freaked out saying “You’re Camie!” and I freaked out because someone in freaking Amsterdam recognized me. We talked for a bit and she told me her sister worked in the shop and she came by to visit her.
Her name is Anita, she’s Indonesian and currently living in Amsterdam. I told her all about the BBE and why I was in Amsterdam, and that I was only there for 2 nights. We agreed to spend the rest of the afternoon together while she showed me around shopping places. She told me about life in Amsterdam, and how before that she had lived in Paris. Her parents are expats, which explains the moving around. (I kept telling her how lucky she was to travel. I was insanely jealous of her!) And suddenly having an Asian friend by my side suddenly made me feel more at home. I suddenly kept dropping words like “naman” and “eh” and told her she reminded me too much of my fellow Filipinos back home. She said she understood what I meant, and didn’t mind it because she still knew what I was saying since her sister’s best friend is Filipino. We did more shopping until we parted ways, and agreed to meet up again after her work the following day.
I had a very early start the next day, needing to be at the Anne Frank House right before 9AM. I again had to use a screenshot of Google Maps on my phone because I didn’t have a working Dutch sim card. Needless to say, I got lost a dozen times, until I finally got on the right tram track. “Does this take me to the Anne Frank House?” I ask as I hopped on. “Yes…” answered the driver. I took out my coin purse and asked how much it would cost, he held up a hand and shook his head. “It’s on me, it’s a Sunday, it’s only a few stops anyway.” I smiled and said “Dank je wel” (pronounced as: dan-kuh-viel) which is a thank you in Dutch.
The Anne Frank House… Oh. My. God. If you’re a WWII junkie like I am, you HAVE to visit this place. I’m warning you though, if you don’t buy tickets ahead of time, you’ll line up and the line goes all the way around and creates like a snake line. CRAZY. I had missed my 9AM ticket but since I purchased a ticket online weeks before, and told them I had gotten lost, they still granted me the quick entry. I took my time touring the house. There are ALWAYS a lot of people, especially school trips, but that’s okay. I was there to really tour it and didn’t let the somewhat crowded areas of the house (it’s rather small ok, cant believe Anne Frank and her family + another family hid there for 2 years) with a bunch of noisy school kids ruin it for me.
After the tour, I walked a little past the Anne Frank House and found myself in the Old Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam. They had little quaint coffee shops, a candy store, some expensive vintage clothing shops. It wasn’t a very tourist-y spot which I appreciated a lot… I don’t like crowded touristy areas. (I’m a tourist myself, but I sure as hell don’t act like one. I think that’s why throughout my whole stay in Europe, I’ve had people speaking to me in their native tongues and when I explain that I don’t speak their language, they look at me slightly embarrassed.) I spent at least 2 hours in the Old Jewish Quarter. I bought myself a bag of candy, walked around to explore, saw people’s houses, did a bit of people watching, checked out the expensive vintage shops.
After I had enough, I walked back to Waterlooplein to buy myself a pair of Doc Martens (I found a guy who was selling them for brand new, he buys them on sale and then sells them again) I met up with Anita after that, and since we had already did a bit of shopping the day before, so I told her I wanted to visit The Red Light District and do a bit of window shopping there. She was game to go with me, saying she’s only been a few times herself before. The sun was still up at around 6PM, which meant the Red Light District wasn’t really getting started up yet. But in the RLD, you’ve got your slew of sex shops, sex bars, even live sex entertainment… I know, it’s extremely crazy to think about, I mean LIVE sex show? Ew. But sex wasn’t a very taboo thing for them over there, compared to us Filipinos where sex was such a *gasp!!!!!!* subject. I think it was crazier seeing a couple with a baby in a stroller walking around the RLD, but different strokes for different folks, I guess?
Anyway, most of the windows were empty, but when they weren’t — HOT DAMN HOT CHICAS EVERYWHERE. I found myself going, “She could be a model, you know.” because they’re that gorgeous looking. The most expensive prostitutes are the ones in the main streets, there are others in the streets in between the RLD, but these women are scarier looking, I think. They are also cheaper. They basically have windows where they display themselves and wait for customers or even flirt with tourists to try and get them to buy them for an hour. I was so tempted to talk to them, but Anita said their pimps might chase us away. I even joked about my willingness to pay for an hour to just sit down and talk to them. They’re VERY strict at the Red Light District, you aren’t allowed to take photos of the windows or the girls. Generally, if you whip out a camera, some big ass pimp comes storming out and takes it from you and smashes it on the ground. I never witnessed this, but I’ve heard the same story over and over again on travel websites. Anita and I decided to just chill out and sit by the canals to talk and watch a few ducks swim around.
We eventually had to part ways and call it a night. I was dead tired and needed to get much needed rest. I had such a great time with her that I was pretty sad that I was leaving. The next morning, I packed my things and left for Paris, leaving a piece of my heart in the city of sin, Amsterdam.