So I just got back from my 2-week-ish (18 day) trip to Europe last Monday. I told myself that I wasn’t going to do what I did for my Asia trip, which is wait till over a year has passed to blog about it, lol. I feel guilty because I still haven’t finished blogging about my Asia trip, oh well, Japan will have to wait… but it’s coming! Don’t be surprised if you see posts on Europe and Japan sort of intertwined. It will be like jumping through a time machine between 2 different years in my life. Ah well, now I’m just rambling on…
This is post 1 of 6 on my Europe Trip. The cities that we traveled to are Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Vienna, London, and Paris!
We will start our journey in order from… you didn’t guess it, Seattle. On November 13 at 9:45am, we flew out and had 2 stop overs… because Icelandic Air was the cheapest and they fly from Seattle and force us to stop over in Iceland as well, doh. At least I had some tea and really really (surprisingly) good wings, live music, and got to enjoy lots of art!
The airplane was surprisingly comfortable. There are USB chargers! Awesome! Stopping over in Iceland was quite cool. I think Erick and I are inspired to travel there next time and not just do a stop over.
Finally after, I don’t remember, many many hours or so later…. We’ve arrived in Amsterdam! The only thing is it’s now the next day (November 14 at 11:40am) and wow we lost so much time to travel to Europe, lol.
I think we’ve traveled enough now that we pretty much have our routine down. After we grab our bags, we usually head over the the airport information desk and ask them how to get to our hotel address. They then tell us our transportation options and we decide what we want to do. Most of the time this works well for us.
We ended up getting the 3-Day Amsterdam travel ticket. Basically it’s a pass that you carry around and scan on trains, trams, buses, etc. It’s quite handy and really worth the hassle/stress free transport.
While waiting for the train, there was a vending machine that we were amused by. Hmm… two for one, what a deal! We don’t have that in America, lol.
To get to our hotel, we had to take the train from the airport to Amsterdam Central. Then from Amsterdam Central, we took a tram over to our hotel. Very easy. The hardest part was figuring out how to get off of the tram. We had no idea that you had to press a button to get the doors to open!
The hotel we stayed at was Apple Inn. The hotel room and lounge area was nice, but some of the hallways and stairs could use some updating.
This was our view from our hotel room. It was a peaceful neighborhood that’s within walking distance of a lot of museums. The day that we arrived in Amsterdam, it was quite gloomy. Much of the time while we were there, it was gloomy or rainy. Funny thing is, I met other people who had been in Amsterdam for longer than us and they said right before we arrived, it was perfectly sunny! Lol, just our luck.
After getting settled into our hotel, we were ready to explore and start the day! Mind you, we just got off the plane and haven’t had any time to adjust to the new time zone. I think I did pretty well though.
Our first stop was Vleminckx’s Homemade Fries. I’m not sure why, but Erick really wanted to try the fries! Apparently it’s very popular to eat fries with mayo in Europe. Of course they have ketchup as well.
Next, we went to what most Americans think of first when they think of Amsterdam, a coffee shop. Yea, so if you’ve been to Amsterdam, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But if you haven’t then you’re probably thinking what’s so great about a coffee shop? Well in Amsterdam, all of the cannabis shops are actually coffee shops, go figure.
Inside a coffee shop, its typical that they will have a bar thats serves tea and coffee. Next to it is usually another bar where you can get buy grams, pre-rolled joints, you name it. There’s usually some sort of menu where you can choose whether you want sativa, indica, hybrids, and different strains. It’s interesting to see how it could be in the States if cannabis was completely legalized.
I was entertained by the vending machine on the wall that sold grinders and rolling papers.
Leaving the coffee shop, we strolled around the surrounding area which had lots of shopping and pretty lights.
We stumbled into a market in search for a bathroom, but didn’t find one. Instead I found these grocery doors to be quite aesthetically pleasing and well designed. Wish my local market looked this good.
Outside, we found a farmers market. Also noticed that there are a lot of cheese stores. I do love cheese.
Many of the streets in Amsterdam have these cool canals that go through them. This has got to be a huge selling point for the city. Who wouldn’t want to travel by boat to their destination!?
We found ourselves waiting in line for the Heineken Experience. I believe we waited in line outside in the cold (and rain!) for about 1 hour. Was it worth it? Yea, I guess it was. It turned out to be quite fun in the end. But if I could do it all over again, I would have purchased my ticket in advanced online so that I wouldn’t have to wait in the line.
Basically once you buy your ticket, you go in and learn a bit about the history of Heineken. Then you learn about how they make their beer in great detail. It was a very hands on and immersive experience. After the learning comes the fun. You get to go on this sort of “ride” that simulates what it’s like to be the beer and get bottled. Then you are led into a room to do a beer tasting and learn how to properly drink a beer. Finally, you go through a maze of photo taking, social media, fun stuff, interactive frenzy… And long and behold, you get to claim 2 glasses of beer to drink (or just 1 if you opt for the super super super cold Heineken).
The entire Heineken experience probably took us about 2 hours to get through? I’m not sure. But I do know that I was starving. Right next door was a food joint (quite similar to Chipotle, but not as good) called Salsa Shop. Their rice wasn’t cooked all the way so it was hard. They did have very spicy habanero sauce, so I’ll give that to them.
After dinner we did get a bit lost and I remember doing a LOT of walking. Mostly because we had a change of plans for where we wanted to go. We did find this really beautiful street near Leidsplein Square that had so many Christmas lights that we just had to snap a photo.
In the end, we found ourself at an Irish bar. I got some whiskey neat, while Erick got one of their stout beers.
A friend of mine recommended that we check out Rookies, so we did. It was another coffee shop, but definitely a lot less touristy with mostly locals. I really enjoyed the vibe of it.
To end the night, we found ourselves at a Saloon drinking Texels beer, and me eating French Onion soup. “Careful, it’s warm,” said our bartender. Warm!? But I like my food HOT. Then I touch the bowl, omg it’s f*cking hot! I guess he doesn’t know what warm means. Oh, but little did I know, everyone in Europe calls hot food, “warm.”
The next day we started bright and early. We grabbed breakfast at Bakers & Roasters. It really isn’t anything different from food in America, but it was SUPER delicious. If you want something yummy, go here! This place is cuuute too.
Actually, now that I’m on the topic of food, I didn’t notice anything unique about the food in Amsterdam. It was very normal food to what you get in the States.
I started my day with this beautiful latte. Looking at this photo, I feel like I can taste the foam from the coffee.
For breakfast, Erick got the Eggs Royale (top) and I got the Navajo Eggs (bottom). Mine was heaven.
By the time we finished our breakfast, wind and rain had really picked up. We waited for at least 30 mins for a tram, but no tram ever came (usually they come every 5 mins or so). While waiting, we saw so many people’s umbrellas break and all sorts of havoc. It was entertaining, lol. Eventually we gave up waiting and decided to just walk. We walked and walked and walked into the I amsterdam sign. Of course, time for a #selfie!
Whenever I think of Amsterdam, for some reason I think of that signage, so I’m happy I got (many bad) photos with it.
Nearby, we hoped onto a tram that took us to Amsterdam Central where we got on a ferry.
It was a very short ferry ride. Literally about 2 minutes long, lol! On the other side, I saw this weird metal tube stall thing. I wondered what it was and to my surprised (or not), I found that it was a urinal. Awesome! Too bad only men can use it. But I guess that works out, because if they didn’t have those set up, they’d just pee around the side of a building anyways.
Okay, I like to get off track a lot. Getting back on track, we took a bus to the middle of I don’t know where, and walked to I don’t know where, to go to a flea market. Now we’ve been told, this is the largest flea market in all of Europe. For sure, this is the largest that I’ve ever been to.
The flea market was 2 full warehouses + some outdoor areas too. The photo below isn’t even showing an entire stretch of 1 warehouse, but maybe only 1/3 of it. Really, if I lived in Amsterdam, or even anywhere in Europe, this would be heaven to me. There are really some good easy to find treasures here! You can totally see the difference between flea markets in America versus flea markets in Europe. We just can’t beat the amount of history and antique pieces that they have.
Furthermore, the flea market had some pretty cool graffiti art and just art in general in and around the buildings. It nice to see all the different art around the world. In the end, we didn’t buy anything except for an entrance fee to use the bathrooms and some food from the vendors. But we had a great time and good experience. It was a pickers dream.
Heading back from the flea market, we had to take the bus back. We found ourselves accidentally walking through SoHo, where we then proceeded to grab some food at Pasta Pasta. It’s a make your own pasta shop, so you can pick your noodle, sauce, and toppings. A really cheap, quick, and tasty meal for anyone on a budget.
We were pretty pooped out, so we headed back from Magna Plaza Shopping Centre to our place for a nap.
Waking up wide eyed and rested, we were both ready for the night ahead. Tonight is all about the Red Light District.
But first, a little dedication to those that we’ve lost in the recent attacks on France. Visiting 6 different cities and seeing how each city is coping with the situation has been eyeopening. Lastly, being in Paris, my last destination of my trip, really made me feel, what kind of person could ever do something like this to these people?
Continuing on, we stopped and got some sushi. Erick was hungry. The sushi wasn’t too good, it was in those pre-made sushi boxes, but oh well, it was exactly what we expected it to be.
After sushi, Erick wanted more food, so we got some crepe from Ice Bakery. Meh.
And finally, we made it to the Red Light District! I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, maybe something more grand!? We weren’t allowed to take photos of the girls in the windows, but I’m sure you can google it if you’re curious. Apparently the girls will yell at you if they see you take a photo.
The outer part of Red Light District has the less attractive girls, and as you move closer towards the more popular areas, the girls get hotter. I didn’t really see any that were amazing, but there were some decent ones. Most of them were white, some were black, and I think I saw one asian.
What’s more fun than looking at girls at the Red Light District?! All of the bars! There are so many bars so it’s a great spot to go bar hoping.
Erick and I went to a total of 4 bars that night. At each bar, we took a shot or two and drank a beer. By the end of the night I was pretty good.
We ended up at another one of those coffee shops. The crowd at these coffee shops are definitely a different once you hit past midnight. This last one that we went to felt more lounge and bar like, not like a coffee shop at all.
Later when we left the coffee shop, a guy outside came up to us and asked if we wanted to buy any coke or xtc, lol. Oh jeez. Erick decided to entertain him and learn more about what he does out there working the street. It was a mildly interesting conversation, I’ll leave it at that.
The next morning was our last day in Amsterdam. We had approximately until late afternoon to finish up the last of our adventures. This brought us to the Van Gogh Museum.
Now when I say that Erick does not enjoy museums (especially ones with lots of paintings), I mean it. He gets bored so easily! But wow, he really loved the Van Gogh Museum. Being an art major, I really love seeing all forms of art. I’m not a huge Van Gogh fan though, having been overly exposed to his work in textbooks and everyday life. However, I was blown away seeing his work in person. It was amazing! I highly recommend checking out this museum if you ever get the chance to go to Amsterdam. It’s a museum done right.
Overall, my impression of Amsterdam is that it’s a very clean and cute city. It isn’t very big at all, but I can totally see myself living there for a few years. Im not sure what it is, but I like the vibe and atmosphere of it. Theres a mix of modern buildings and these other buildings like the ones shown above. Also, I noticed that I didn’t see any homeless people! Plus, everyone there speaks English. I’ll have to go back again sometime soon. Until next time!
Thanks for reading!