Arriving in Amsterdam meant learning how to get around in another city, finding my hostel and trying to find some new friends to explore with. Turns out finding a new friend was the easy part. As I stood up from my seat to get off the train, not 4 seats away looking right back at me was my friend Sofia from Spain. We shared a dorm room from my first day in paris and got along great so seeing her here was a great surprise. It’s not just me that has experienced this either, my mate Michael found out it’s a small world when traveling as well.
I always heard stories about how you run into other travellers as you skip from country to country but never thought with my route that would happen. Needless to say after a hug and a quick catch up we organised to meet up again later to look around the Red Light District of Amsterdam.
Unlike Paris where trains are the best way to get around, trams ruled my time in Amsterdam. If your here for a few days and need to travel around on them a bit then grab a 24/48/72 hour pass from the GBV office across from the central train station. It will give you unlimited travel on the transport system. I grabbed the 72 hour pass for about 11 euro from memory.
My stay in Amsterdam would be my first in a major corporate hostel and had it not been such a busy time with Queens Day just the day before I would have happily skipped staying there all together. I like smaller places where you can meet people easily. This hostel came off as an unfriendly environment where I found myself sharing a room for the 4 nights with some very strange older men.
Needless to say escaping the hostel my first afternoon there to meet up with Sofia was very welcome. Wandering around the Red Light District of Amsterdam was much the same as the other little streets I had seen so far, beautiful canals and quaint narrow houses and shops littering the side walk. At least it was until I saw the women in the windows, dressed to lure they sure do have plenty to work with.
Moving on to the gathering of tents and food vendors around Nieuwmarkt, both Sofia and I grabbed a beer or 2 along with a kebab and chilled out. The first tent was filled with the talent of what could only be school ages guys beating out an awesome tune.
The second tent housed a pop/rock band, fronted by 2 girls that could really belt out a tune. What I found interesting is they introduced all of the songs in Dutch but sung in English. As the night grew long I was rather happy about the way my stay in Amsterdam had begun, so much fun and joy. With a great crowd of people all enjoying their night out I was eager to see what else there was to do in Amsterdam.
So after swapping stories with Sofia on just how much we disliked our hostels we organised to meet up the next day at the Free Walking Tour for Amsterdam. Having had a great experience with the one in Paris I was looking forward to seeing just how well the tours were run elsewhere.