A backdated post from my backpacking trip in September 2010, covering three days in Amsterdam.
After a 7am flight, and finally making it to Amsterdam Centraal I decided the smart thing to do was not look at a map while trying to make my half hour walk to the hostel. Days prior to data roaming were a real bitch.
It went about as well as expected and within 20 minutes I was lost and sweaty from carrying a massive backpack. I caved and turned back on my internet and finally located the hostel.
My hostel was the Stay Okay Vondelpark, which unshockingly, was directly opposite Vondelpark. The room was much more spacious than I expected. I was in a female only room, which I think eased the nerves of a first time hostel experience.
Tired and hungry, I went in search of food and scored a ham, cheese and tomato croissant and a bottle of ice tea and walked back up to the park to eat. Side note: Nestea is better than Liptons and I wish we sold it here.
I decided to go back to the hostel since it was directly behind me and move my bag from storage up into the room while it was likely to be quiet. Never made up so many beds as when I went backpacking.
I had a purple silk bedsheet/ sleeping bag type thing because back then the thought of sleeping in a bed hundreds of other people slept in freaked me out. I think I stopped caring about half way through the trip.
A walk down to Dam Square gave me an opportunity to get my bearings and resulted in an impromptu trip into the Royal Palace. It wasn’t on my list – nothing says party like an extensively researched list – but the outer building was so impressive I couldn’t help but be curious as to what was inside.
After you walk up the grand staircase, you face the most impressive statue of the universe and justice. And nothing says welcome like 30 or 40 carved marble cherubs (Seriously though, what was European architects fascination with the things?)
Also the punishment for a man found guilty of rape was stabbing their eyes out. I would be okay if that was a thing again.
After walking around I found myself in the Red Light District. My innocent 20-year-old eyes about burst from their socket. But other than that, it felt weird to stare at the women, like looking over a piece of meat. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and in general just avoided eye contact.
I called it an early night and headed back to the hostel, not wanting to wander about an unknown city in the dark, alone.
So I had it in my head that to make the most of this trip, getting up at 7am for breakfast every morning was the perfect thing to do. So I went down to the free breakfast, because who is really going to miss free food?
I then headed out to the Begijnhof – a collection of old homes where a sect of women created a convent of sorts, complete with its own hidden Catholic church from when the city converted to Protestant. Apparently I was unimpressed.
Nieuwe Kerk on the other hand, was a great visit. The highlight was the three story high organ with over 5000 different pipes. I imagine a concert in that place would be breathtaking.
A lunch trip and a rest in the hostel were then needed, giving me ample time to write out the mandatory postcards both parents expected to receive from literally every destination.
Then the Oude Kerk was calling my name so I headed out to be utterly fascinated (read: creeped the hell out) when I was informed that every slab in the church was technically a gravestone because that’s what they did.
Then it was time for Anne Frank. I was equally excited and dreading it because I honestly did not know what to expect. Obviously I knew the story, but there is very little details on what to find in the house.
The stairs were insane. At some points they were almost vertical and I walked up them with my hands places on the steps in front.
There is also a very oppressive and claustrophobic feel to the house. Unsurprising, given the nature but other preserved locations don’t have that intense vibe that I felt here. It was almost like being unable to breathe.
The house was emotional, but it suddenly hit me in the Frank’s bedroom, right at the point where the Anne and Margot’s heights were recorded on the wall. These were real people who went through a horrific experience for years.
I had to go back to the hostel after the House. It was just one of those places.
Eventually food beckoned and I found a pizza place not far from where I was staying. Pizza is sold by the slice everywhere in Amsterdam and is always actually really good.
I braved the hostel bar for an entire drink and then headed up to bed. I was moving on from Amsterdam the following day and needed to pack my bag. Seriously, such a party.