Awesome Amsterdam Adventure (Part 1)

Don’t mind the alliteration. I couldn’t help it. I know this is what you’ve all been waiting on pins and needles for. You’re getting antsy wondering what kind of crazy capers we all got into up there.

Wednesday August 3rd 2011. The weather was  a little nippy, overcast, and off and on rain. We left some time in the morning, around 9 I think. There isn’t really much to tell about the journey. Lisa listened to her music, I listened to an audio book, and I think we both fell asleep at one point. I actually woke up when we were almost at the stadium where we were parking our car for the Park + Ride. We parked at the Bijlmer ArenA. For those of you not familiar with the Park + Ride system I will explain it. There are about 7 or so stations outside of the city that you can park in and leave your car there for the duration of your stay in Amsterdam. You get metro tickets that will take you to the Centraal Station and bring you back at the end (all included in the price to park). Normally the metro would take you all the way into the city, but there was construction being done so we had to get off of that and take a bus. It was quite the journey, but we made it. Once you get to Centraal (it’s not a typo, it’s Dutch ^_^) you decide what type of transportation tickets you want to buy. We had considered getting 48h ‘I Amsterdam’ cards that include free public transport, free admission to a bunch of museums, and discounts on a whole bunch of stuff. We decided that for the price and what we were planning on doing the cards weren’t worth it. The transit system tickets for 48h were quite cheap in my mind. I think they might have been €11/person or something. And that’s unlimited use of the trams for 48 hours. Good deal I think. Since the two museums we had previously planned on seeing weren’t included in the ‘I Amsterdam’ card they really didn’t do us much good. So instead of paying €48/person to get into more museums than we had time for, and discounts for things we weren’t going to do, we paid the €11/person to get around and the other stuff we would have had to pay for anyway. It ended up working out really well. There were about 5 or 6 lines that would take us right to our hotel. We were just 2 stops away from the Station and our stop was maybe…100ft or so from our hotel.

Our hotel. We knew going there that it was only 2 star, but I don’t stay in a lot of hotels so I don’t know what to expect. It wasn’t that bad, really. It actually added to the experience. There was a steep staircase leading up to the hotel (it was above a store). I think there were another 2 floors with super steep/small staircases, but thankfully we were on the ‘main’ floor of the hotel. Since we got there before check-in we were told we could just leave our suitcases in the reception area/breakfast room. The room was small enough that the person at the desk could see the suitcases at all times. So we left to do some wandering. The others had spotted a McDonald’s or two on the way so we decided to walk back to one of them. It was actually my first time eating McDonald’s since last December. We got Big Mac Meals that came with a free ‘Coke’ glass. They came in a bunch of different colours (of course I wanted a green one and Lisa wanted purple), but they only had blue at that time. In Amsterdam there are two things you can definitely be sure of; a McDonald’s and an H&M on almost every block. Literally. It’s ridiculous. After that we headed back to the hotel .

When we finally got to go to our rooms only one was actually ready. I don’t know how we decided who go it, but it ended up being Mom and Dad. First thing; small. It’s to be expected and really, they were big enough for what we needed them for. Except for the bathroom. Oh the bathroom. Now, in my family, we’re not tiny people, but even if you were anorexic you’d have trouble with that first bathroom! When you opened the door the sink was right there. There was just enough room to get in and close the door. The shower was on the right and the toilet on the left. But the toilet was practically under the sink! The thing that matters was that it worked. Always try to make the best of every situation because it could always be worse. And it was really warm and muggy in that room. When you opened the windows it was super noisy. Which makes sense because we were right in the centre of town. We didn’t get to see the other room until we got back from supper, but I’ll just describe it for you now. It was the same size as the first, but quieter (because the alley on this side was a lot smaller and you couldn’t walk in it) and not as hot. There was also an air conditioner. The bathroom was a little better, but still tiny. It was just shaped differently. You opened the door and the toilet was right there. You could actually stick your toes out under the door when you were sitting on the toilet. The shower and sink were to the right and the standing space was just wide enough for the small sink. But again, it fit out purposes. I was going to wait to mention this until Part 2, but I might as well say it now. The reason the 1st room was so hot was because the heater was on. I don’t know why it was on, but it was. We didn’t discover this until the 2nd night when Lisa and I switched rooms with our parents. They had hardly gotten any sleep at all the 1st night, what with the noise and the heat, and (especially since they were the one’s driving) we thought it would only be fair to switch. It was after this switch that Lisa and I were at the windows looking out at the alley and the main street that I put my hand on the heater and noticed how hot it was. All that suffering for nothing. We still kept the windows open, but it was about the same temperature as the other room, maybe not quite as chilled, once that heater was off. I couldn’t believe it. My parents never thought to check because even though the sun wasn’t out it was still quite warm outside so why would anyone have the heater on?

After depositing our things in the room we left for our first order of business. We had two tickets for the Anne Frank Museum. My Dad had thought a few days before we went that it might be a good idea to get our tickets ahead of time because we know it’s a popular museum. Well, by the time Dad searched for them all we could get was 2. This was for the English introduction. And it was 2 on the 3rd, and there was 1 for the 4th. So he snatched up those 2 and decided that Lisa and I could fight over who would go with Mom. I offered it to Lisa, but she knows that museums/history and things like that are more down my alley than hers so she let me have it. She just wanted to be able to go to the book store to see what they had there. It turns out that if you want to wait in line for hours you don’t have to buy tickets ahead of time and if we would have went as soon as we got to the city, Dad and Lisa probably could have gotten into the museum as well. Yeah right, like they’d want to wait that long! And the tickets you buy from waiting in line don’t include an introduction, it’s just the museum. Because Mom and I already had tickets we got to go in a side door all sneaky like and wait for our introduction inside. I won’t take the time talking about Anne Frank because most of you already know the story and if you don’t it’s so widely accessible you can find out about it easily if you’re so inclined. It was really neat to be inside the house where they hid. I haven’t read the book yet (although I bought a copy there), but I’ve seen the play. I can’t really comprehend what it would have been like not to be able to make noise when you needed to, or to not be able to get fresh air any time you wanted. I guess people are capable of a lot of things when their lives depend on it.

We took a little longer at the house than we thought so Dad and Lisa were at a bit of a loose end for a little while, but eventually we saw them again and let them in through the ‘sneaky side door’ (it’s actually on the same wall as the main entrance) as long as they promised to only go into the book store.

By that time we were hungry so Dad and Lisa guided us to this restaurant they had found that served up a platter of traditional Dutch food. It was quite the platter, let me tell you. It had 3 or 4 different types of meat, that mashed potato/carrot concoction that I always forget the name of, and then in bowls on the side were more potatoes and other veggies. We all got plates and then just dug in. The amount we got could have fed 6 or 7 people and we had to stop my Dad from eating when he was clearly way too full and just kept taking stuff because it was sitting there. He was being quite the joker about it. We had to hide all the cutlery. Mom got a bottle of wine that she was able to take with her if she didn’t finish it. I felt sort of odd carrying an opened bottle of wine out of a restaurant in my backpack…. Our waiter was really nice. My Mom kept saying he looked like he could have been the younger brother of a friend of theirs who was in their wedding party if said friend (Rob I think) would have had a younger brother. We ended up asking him if we could take a picture of him. He said yes even before we explained why. Again, awkward. Actually, I’m the one with the picture, so I have to remember to email it to my Dad. It was good, by the way, the food. I know I have a picture of it all, but except for that I couldn’t tell you what the meat was or what the platter was called because as you’ve all figured out by now I have the memory of a…well, not an elephant and I never write things down.

One thing we had to be careful of with the trams is that on different lines there might be the same stop name, but it won’t be the same stop. It will be in the same area, but a street over or something. We figured that out trying to get back to the hotel. To get right to the hotel the 9 and 4 (among others) were perfect. The 1, 2, or 5 got us around it, but we had to still find our way from the stop. I’m not sure what we did exactly after dinner. We must have hung out at the hotel for a while because it was still light out when we got back there, but it wasn’t until after dark that we left again. I’m drawing a blank, unless we didn’t actually do anything and then that makes sense. That night anyway, we went to the Medieval Torture Museum. Nothing like looking at crazy painful ways of getting people to talk to get you in a good mood. It took us a little bit to find it because it was dark and all, but it wasn’t actually that hard. We were the only one’s there (by this time it was 10pm I think). We napped! That’s what we did after supper. Now that that’s taken care of… The others just sped through, but I took the time to actually read the plaques which, although gruesome in their descriptions of the methods and devices involved and the reasons one would be picked for such a torture, were actually quite cleverly written, enough so to be slightly amusing. I started reading them aloud because the others weren’t bothering to take the time and for some reason they just sounded better with a British accent. Or at least my attempt at a British accent of some sort. Eventually I gave up on the ‘aloud’ bit and just read them for myself. At this point they had completely lost me. Well, at least they were able to rest at the end while they waited for me to finish.

When we left I’m not sure why we didn’t just go back the way we came. Maybe we started to, but we definitely got lost somewhere along the way. I can’t even remember if our plan was to go straight back or not.  At one point my Mom was completely outraged because some guy was talking on his phone, his dog took a crap on the edge of the sidewalk (which he was clearly aware of), and when it was finished he just walked away. There’s not much ‘poop and scoop’ enforcing there. Eventually Lisa and I got ahead of the ‘rents. We must have looked like we knew our way around (I didn’t have my backpack on, maybe that was it) because we were stopped by this young couple who asked us how to get to another museum. Of course, we were as lost as they were so we weren’t much help, but we all did our best to help each other. We ended up chatting a bit and found out they were from Australia. The guy was 30 and this was the first time he’d ever gotten a passport. I guess, if we didn’t need one to get in the States, that would be my story to, just not the ’30’ part. They were really cool and we shared stories of why we were there and stuff like that. Don’t you just love those kinds of encounters?

So as you can see, even though we didn’t ‘do’ that much stuff we still had an action packed 1st day. Yes, I know, super long post and it’s only one day! For your sake I’m spacing it out a bit ;). Stay tuned for AAA (Part 2), coming to a computer near you.

Pictures from this day can be seen here: Awesome Amsterdam Adventure – Day 1 [Hollyjb]

                                                                                                            

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© 2010-2011 hollyjb

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  1. London Calling… « hollyjb

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