Just do it. You only live once right? So take a bike ride in Amsterdam and hope it’s not your last. I lucked out on the weather in Amsterdam, it was chilly but by noon everyday the sun burned off the clouds and it was a gorgeous sunny day.
Day 24: Our bus dropped us off on the outskirts of the city so everyone scrambled off to find the closets metro. I started talking to a woman, about mid 30’s, who was struggling with two large suitcases. I asked her if she was moving to the city with so much luggage, she just laughed and said no she’s been traveling for the past 3 years. My immediate response was ‘With all that luggage?!” She then told me her story. She hated working her 9-5 office job so left to teach English in South Korea for a year. But she loved it and ended up staying for 3, now she was on her way back to the states doing a 3 month euro trip, with three years worth of clothes she’s collected in Asia, and almost broke. She said her next plan of action was to get a temporary job, then immediately leave once she’d earned enough. I then told her about my 3 month backpacking trip and she told me by the end I would have the travel bug, I told her the travel bug is why I’m even on this trip.
The first roommate I met was a guy from Finland who fit the definition of a tourist in Amsterdam, he was high out of his mind the whole time he was there BUT very nice. I usually don’t go out on my first night in a hostel, new city, it’s dark, no clue how to get around and don’t speak the language but there was a local staying in the hostel as well. He offered to show me around the area which was very nice. We met a guy on the street who tried to sell me a stolen bike for 10 euros.
Day 25: I went down to breakfast and recognized two of my roommates, a Spaniard and a guy from Taiwan. After talking about plans for the day Alex, from Taiwan, decided to join me for a walk around city center and the free tour. We went to the city a couple hours early and just walked around the streets, it was gorgeous! It was sunny and there were flowers over all the canals. Our tour guide was from Germany and gave us a great tour of the city. He ended with tellings us we ALL needed to start calling Venice the Amsterdam of the South instead of the other way around because Amsterdam is bigger and has more canals then Venice! I guess I’ll see if that was true or not in a couple weeks!
That night I convinced a couple roommates to go to the Red Light District. It wasn’t quite as I expected, it was girls standing in what honestly looked like bikinis in windows and most were just talking to each other. A few were trying to catch the eye of some guys but I never saw guys actually at the windows. I later heard they’re trying to shut it down because the girls only make $100-150 euros a night on average because tourists are usually with families so it’s not that big of a tourist attraction they thought it would be, at least for a different purpose.
Day 26: My Dutch roommate had offered to give me a private bike tour that day and who am I to turn down an offer like that? We probably should have planned it a little better because by the time we went down to the front office, about noon, all the bikes had already been rented. SO he biked and I took the tram into the city center, by the time we finally got to a bike rental place it was already 2pm!
I think riding through central Amsterdam on a Saturday afternoon has been the most scared I’ve been so far. There are other bikers, cars and pedestrians EVERYWHERE!
Our first stop was Vondelpark park. Where we ended up waiting for almost an hour for some fries because they forgot our order but they were delicious! Then we rode a little more, and stopped along the way to have some wine in cute little mini bottles along a park canal. We spent the rest of the evening riding around the out skirts of the city along parks and canals.
That evening they had a bonfire out back, it was freezing so we didn’t stay too long but drank a couple beers and hung out by the fire.
Day 27: I rode my bike to city center by myself along the canal. It was great! I felt liberated and free riding along the canal with the freezing wind and gorgeous sun shining. The air was SO chilly my nose felt like it was going to fall off and my tail bone hurt from riding so much the day before but… The sun was shining, the river was beautiful, and I felt at peace.
I met a roommate and a guy from Chile we had met at breakfast at the city center so we could check out the IAMSTERDAM sign. It was VERY cold out and the wind was picking up but at least it was sunny! We walked around the museums but the lines were all ridiculously long then walked back into the city center. After getting lost we walked around and sampled cheese from at least 5 different places, exactly what we needed before we went into a 3 story coffee house.
On the way back to the hostel I at in a park for 30 mins and listened to the fountain, the bikes, the people, the cars, the birds, the languages, and soaked up the sun. I watched two sisters, probably 4 and 1.5 run around and play in the dirt and fountain. I watch a two year old practice biking on a bike that had no training wheels or pedals so he just used his feet.
When my Spanish roommate was leaving that night as he was saying goodbye to everyone and told me “Me infierno…” (I can’t remember exactly what he said) But he told me it translates to “You give me passion.” I had told him about my solo backpacking trip several days ago but it’s always nice to hear that my travels inspire, or give passion, to others 🙂
I packed a small lunch for myself at the hostel breakfast, even though we’re not suppose to every does anyways but I had a long day of bus riding ahead.
Amsterdam was another city I left a part of my heart in.