Category Archives: Amsterdam

Sleazy Birds

On Saturday night we thought we’d go out for a few cheekies. We knew Amsterdam wasn’t cheap, but you don’t realize how expensive the booze is until you actually try and get drunk. Cheapest pint is 5euros, although bizarrely there isn’t a huge price difference between the good (budvar, leffe etc), and the bad (Heineken)… With the help of a hostel bar happy hour (12 hours long), and some new friends, we somehow manged to get pretty sozzled, arriving back to our boat (covered in chips and sauce) at around 5am. On descending to our quarters, Amy managed to gracefully slide down all 12 steps on her bum, landing in a crumpled heap at the bottom, smiling bemusedly. This was the second major mishap to befall us, as on Friday I managed to drop my hat and gloves in a toilet containing my own wee (I forgot they were under my arm when flushing the chain).

– By the way, cheers for the drinks Mark, and nice to meet you guys (Mark, Lee, Marvin and co) – All the best.

Sunday was a bit of a wasted day as we lay below deck, nursing our heads and feeling generally sorry for ourselves… On Monday we took tram out to Vondel Park, we wanted to get bikes and really get into the Amsterdam swing, but our local bike rental guy had disappeared and we needed one close to the hostel to get our stuff as we planned to get the train later. Vondel park is ace, definitely in my top 3 city centre parks of all time (yeah, don’t you?). As you can see from the pictures I became a wildlife photographer for the day, mainly because we kept running into this magnificent ninja heron who mysteriously appeared just feet away from us a couple of times. He didn’t care about humans at all and would greedily flap himself within touching distance for a bit of delicious port salut cheese… Vondel Park also seemed to be the red light district for a sleazy bunch of parakeets. They were noisily at it all day, and although it could be ignored, it became a bit much when we were trying to peacefully enjoy our hummus and cheese sandwiches.

More things we’ve learned about Amsterdam:
– For backpackers, beer is very expensive. As are the galleries and museums. We didn’t really go in anything as a lot of the main ones were between 10-15 euros each for a ticket, not much less than the price we were paying for a bed and breakfast.
– The Dutch love Daschunds (Sausage dogs) – Much to Amy’ delight, they are literally everywhere.
– There are no public toilets anywhere – you’ve got to go in a McDonalds or something and pay an old lady at least 50cents.
– The Dutch generally seemed to be really laid back, very friendly, and helpful.

The following afternoon we geared up for the next leg of our trip to Bruges. Somehow our backpacks now seemed twice as heavy. We said goodbye to our super cool tattooed host Roy (who’s diet seemed to be cuppa soups, vodka, and fags) and headed to the station.

– We would strongly recommend Roy and the Vita Nova to anyone looking for cheap bed and breakfast in Amsterdam – Rooms are tiny, walls are thin, but everything is clean, no curfew, staff are great, its really cheap, and it’s on a boat!

And so, on Monday, we left Amsterdam with many fond (sometimes blurry) memories, a couple of very heavy backpacks, and Amy’s heavily bruised backside…

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That sausage won’t fit in here!…

That sausage wont fit in here!… These were the words I screamed in Amy’s face just before I broke down and fell sobbing into a crumpled heap on the floor. Fitting everything you need for over a year into a backpack is quite difficult. Much to our disappointment, the mattesons sausage had to stay at home. (Along with the other £20 worth of noodles, pastes, and long life foods we bought for the trip in order to save money).

So on Wednesday 13th, sausageless, we set off. The journey so far has been: Train from Hebden Bridge to Newcastle – Bus from Newcastle train station to Ferry Terminal – Ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry port (actually IJmuiden) – Coach from IJmuiden to Amsterdam – Then we walked to our boat hostel (boatel).

The ferry was a laugh, but booze is where they claw the money back from the cheap ticket. We had a nice few beers watching the cheesy but very competent covers band and playing simpleton bingo. Eventually, semi trollied we went back to the room and to bed, and all was well… Until, I was awoken in the early hours because someone had mistakenly put our room on a rollercoaster. After a few hours of being thrown around my bed on what is definitely one of the roughest ferry journeys I have ever been on, the seas eventually died down… just as we reached the port and it was time to get up.

After the previous night, we weren’t that thrilled about arriving at our next stop, a hotel on a boat. Thankfully the Boatel was great. Tiny rooms and thin walls, but it’s clean, the guy who runs it is really helpful and laid back, and for about £15 per person per night with breakfast, you can’t grumble.

The day we arrived in Amsterdam was valentines day, so being the old romantic that I am, I took Amy to the cheapest hostel in Amsterdam, took her out for a special offer 10euro steak and chips, and then we finished of with a glorious walk around the red light district. Smooth operator.

Things we have noticed about Amsterdam so far:
– The national dish appears not to be pancakes, but steak. There seems to be more steak houses than bars and coffee shops put together.
– You’re far more likely to be killed by a bicycle than any other mode of transport. The bicycle lanes (motorways), and bicycle multi story car parks have to be seen to be believed. The shear volume of bikes everywhere is amazing. It just makes sense, you wonder why all fairly flat cities aren’t like this. As a cyclist, its ace.
– British people are usually passing out/being sick outside coffeeshops. Seriously, you see them everywhere.

On Saturday, after some sight seeing, we did the obligitory coffee shop trip. I very nearly immediatley pulled a whitey, although I just managed to hold it off. Then we had a great time floating around town, wandering around in circles, getting lost, and generally forgetting what the hell we were supposed to be doing.

We have a couple more days here before we set of to Belgium (not sure where yet, Antwerp? Ghent? Bruges? Brussels?) so we’ll prbably do another short entry on the last when we leave.

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