Dam the Amstel
Trip Start May 02, 2005
47Trip End Dec 21, 2005
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I caught the bus and train to Frieburg and bought my ticket from the german/netherlands border to Amsterdam - rail passes only go so far :( and hopped on an InterCityExpress (similar to TGV) .. sitting on this piece of german engineering passing every car on the nearby Autobahn I was just happy to be in Germany, and a little sad to be leaving.
The trains are scheduled so well that of my 3 train changes I only had about 6 minutes to wait between each train. This is great I thought, until I notice that my train is running a little late... hmm... Then not so good when I arrive at the station ready to hop on the next train but itīs not there..
I asked the train information guy on the platform where the train was, and he pointed to the platform I was on with no train... ook, so I went to the ticket office and told him my train had left without me, because it left from a platform it wasnt meant to. The guy looked at me like I was stupid (german trains ALWAYS leave from where they are supposed to and at the time they are supposed to!). I had to repeat to him 4 times the train left from a different platform until he (still didnīt really believe me).. told me Id have to wait 2 hours for the next train. So much for german trains and technology!
I finally arrived in Amsterdam at 3pm (left Schlushsee at 5am!) and found a hostel.
I really enjoyed my time in Amsterdam as nearly everyone seems to. It may not have the most beautiful location, or buildings or a huge list of things to see or do but it is just a fun city to be in. I think its a little sad the when people think of Amsterdam they think of two things, sex and drugs, but those two are just a result of the liberalism of the netherlands
I met a bunch of cool people from my hostel and spent my four days there just wandering around. One day we hired bikes and rode out to the country to find a windmill. Being so flat the netherlands is great for bikes (as you notice trying to cross the road only to have 10 cyclist ring their bells at you). While our trip out to find an authentic ducth windmill turned out to be a failure, it was still nice seeing the country. We did find a windmill but it was in the city and contained a little brewery - which wasn't so bad! (it also contained the best beer I've ever tasted)
Once night we (the guys) went out and did what I think every tourist does while in Amsterdam, strolled through the red light district. Its funny watching everyone's reaction when they first see a girl in a window. Its sort of a mix of shock, laughter and unease.. other's just love it. Most people (I think) just go there to see what its like and have no intention of opening one of those doors, but you do see the odd guy walk out, straighten his collar and walk off like he'd just been to a clothes store.
I said at the start that Amsterdam may not be the prettiest city in Europe, but it still does have its charms, including the 18th/19th century houses lining the streets and canals, little parks and lots of cool shops.
As an end to this entry, I think amsterdam is a great city and really interesting for its liberalism and the dutch people (who are generally really nice - and of course partly my ancestors). However as a young local, who was our tour guide said, im not sure that the liberalism is all good and that you can be too liberal. I definitely wouldn't want Melbourne to be a city vistited for "coffee shops" and prostitutes... Maybe if Amsterdam wasn't such an expection, people would appreciate its other charms more.