While in the Netherlands, I spent two days in Amsterdam, moved to Noordwijk for five days, and then came back to Amsterdam for a full day before catching my night bus to Berlin. That’s why the dates skip around.
Well, I’m finally leaving France. I managed to pull both my apartment and my emotions together long enough to get to the bus station in Gallieni, but pretty much the entire metro ride over, I kept thinking, “Oh, God, this is the last time I’ll ever see the 3 line, isn’t it? Good bye, rats and homeless people. Good bye, sewage leaks.”
You know, normal corny Paris thoughts.
The bus ride was long and uneventful, which meant that I pretty much knocked out the minute the engine started and didn’t wake up until Brussels. Brussels scared me; the part we drove by somehow managed to look like an unholy cross between a rachet Coney Island and the giant of industrialism. Also, the driver was kinda nutty, but that was just because the universe wanted to spice things up, I guess. The bus stop was hella out of town and not at all where I thought it would be [thanks, bus company, for your baldfaced lies] but I more or less managed to untangle Amsterdam’s public transportation and made it to my hostel with only minimal crankiness.
I have this weird thing where the hostels I pick are either complete crack dens or midrange hotel-level fancy. This one, Hotel Van Gogh, was technically a hostel but had that hotel-level fancy, with a fancy location and breakfast and everything. Seriously, more than one food group at a hostel breakfast?! What?!
I had a thorough itinerary for the day, but after stepping foot outside and realizing just how small Amsterdam is geographically, I decided to toss that itinerary in the trash so I could just do as much as I could with the time I had.
I started in the main uptown Amsterdam area, which is basically where the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and all those other fancy art museums are. It’s clearly a classier neighborhood, and it’s right by Vondelpark so it’s quite green, but not that kind of green, if you catch my drift.
I basically ended up just walking around the neighborhood with my camera, because it’s a pretty cute area. While I didn’t actually go into the Rijksmuseum because it costs €17.50 and I had to prioritize, they have a couple of outdoor garden areas with neat art installations, so you can feel less bad about skipping the hefty ticket price.
Most of my morning was spent in Vondelpark, which is gorgeous and green and always worth a stroll.
I might be biased because I just love parks and any facsimile of nature, but it’s got tons of cute shit and is great for picnics or a bike ride through! Or, you know, if you’re like me, you could nap and take pictures.
After my Vondelpark stroll, I ended up going to the Van Gogh Museum. I’m normally not a museum person to begin with and I am definitely not about that €17 price tag, but Amsterdam is rife with museums and Vincent’s one of my favorites. I probably should have done this bit first because the line for the tickets was kind of long, but in the end, it was worth it. If you’re a fan of Van Gogh’s works or even just interested in him as a person, it’s a really fascinating walk through, and small enough to be manageable. There are no photos allowed, though.
My next stop was Albert Cuyp Market! Markets are pretty much my second favorite thing, and only because I always end up spending way too much on food and regretting everything. I had a couple of items on my Dutch food bucket list, and since Amsterdam is very street food friendly, I was excited to check the market out! It’s got produce and cheese and stuff as well as ready-to-go items, and while it’s definitely touristy, the prices have managed to remain reasonable. The poffertjes [mini pancakes] were €2.50, and the stroopwafel [waffle cookie-like-thing with hot caramel in the middle] was €1.50. Warning: Stroopwafels are addictive and you will end up buying 3 million packages of them from your local Dutch grocery store before leaving the country.
By this point, it was getting late, and I headed back to my hostel to wash up before making one final mistake: Going to a FEBO and getting one of their fried atrocities.
FEBO is a room full of hot vending machines that offer up €3 burgers, sandwiches, and, most importantly, a €2 nightmare of a dish in several flavors known as a kroket. I once heard kroket described as deep fried gravy, and for whatever reason, that made me want to try it. So I ate the veal version, sober, and liked it. Enough to get a second one, anyway, and call it dinner.