This past weekend I was in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It was a very unique trip and an overall amazing time. The trip I went on was organized by the student union here at Swansea U, and so it was nice not having to worry about organizing anything really. They basically got us there, got us checked into our hostel, then told us to be back on the bus in a couple days. We left on Thursday night at 5 on a coach, got to Dover later that night (saw glimpses of the famous white cliffs of Dover) and got on a ferry to take us and the bus across to France. Once we landed onto mainland Europe (my first time!) we had about a 6 hour drive through France, Belgium and the Netherlands, finally arriving at Amsterdam at 9 in the morning on Friday. We checked into our hostel, dropped our stuff off, and a couple others and I immediately took off to explore the city.



 random pic of a random canal



First we went and checked out what the coffee shops were all about, then went and got an awesome breakfast, gigantic pancakes loaded with all kinds of stuff. We then continued to explore the city, and it is really unlike any place I have ever been before. There are the canals Everywhere, millions of people flying around on bikes (who are ruthless), people doing drugs everywhere (legally), and of course the red light district (it was much different when we saw it this first time during the day light).

We had known the few things we had wanted to really see in the city, so we sort of were checking out a map, but more just wandering, and the first thing we came across was the Anne Frank house/museum. We did a tour of that, and it was cool to be in it and say I’ve been there, but it was probably the lamest thing I did in Amsterdam, not much to it, just history I already new.

After Anne Frank and more exploring, we made our way to the Heineken Brewery. The tour was very interesting, learned about their history, how they brew the beer, and lots of other stuff. We also got 2 free beers along the way which was cool. I have only drank Heineken on a few occasions, and have never liked it much, but it tasted amazing here.

After that I went and had dinner, sampled a couple local brews, and then a couple of us headed to the Sex Museum. We had first attempted to go to the Torture Museum, but it ended up being closed. The Sex Museum was pretty crazy, basically a bunch of just raunchy statures, pictures, art and how sex has evolved throughout the ages. This place and the Heineken museum were the only two places in Amsterdam we went inside that would allow us to take pictures in too, not really sure what I’m gonna do with the pics from the Sex Museum though, anyone want them? haha.

After that, We headed to check out the world famous “Red Light District.” It was very interesting to say the least. There was the main strip along one of the canals, and then a couple side streets to it and a lot of shady small alleys linking them. There was probably a couple hundred girls/hookers in red lit up windows/doors, and most had at least some clothes on. There were multiple sex shows with people trying to get you to go watch one ( I did not, nor did I even talk to a hooker). And overall, there were just a lot of shady people everywhere, and I’m pretty sure I was the victim of an attempted pic-pocket a few times, but I was being very safe. I did know one guy that talked to a couple girls in the windows about prices and what not, 50 euros just to get inside they kept telling him. The girls were definitely A LOT better looking during the night then day, and especially the ones on the main street. The creepy alleys must have been like the minor leagues, because those girls were scary.

Pic in the Red Light district I wasn't suppose to take

Pic in the Red Light district I wasn't suppose to take

The next day I started off by going to the Van Gogh Museum. This was definitely the first time I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated an art museum. It was amazing. The best part was the featured section about his “Starry Night” and colors of the night. We got headsets to listen to about all the paintings, which helped my art-illiterate self a lot. I think I spent almost 4 hours in the museum, it was amazing and definitely worth the 15 euros.

After lunch, we had to get back to our Welsh roots and watch the biggest sporting event of the year in Wales; England vs. Wales 6 Nations Rugby match in Cardiff. We found a sports cafe in Amsterdam that had it on like all of the TVs. There was actually a small group of Wales fans there watching it, and a lot of English wankers too. Wales ended up coming out on top, 23-15, so that made the day even better.

I then met up with a few more people I knew and we checked out a bar and have a few drinks. On a some-what related note, one of the toughest things about the weekend was getting used to not being able to use my cell phone. Some people got coverage in Amsterdam, but would just get charged more, but I did not have any service at all. This made it hard to meet up with people and stuff, but then again was good because I was able to just stick with a couple people who wanted to do the same things I did and didn’t have to worry about others. It was also a nice mini-prep for my 4 weeks of backpacking (possibly by my self for much of it) through Europe, which most likely will entail no cell phone and limited Internet access, should be interesting!

That night we checked out a few more bars and coffee shops, wandered through the red light district again, and I ended up paying for a little bit of internet time at the end of the night to chat with my Valentine- Natalie, who I did not get to see or actually talk to on V-day 😦 But she did get and loves my flowers!

The next morning we had a couple  more hours when we woke up to see a few things and do some last minute exploring before we left for Wales at noon. On the way back we stopped at a duty-free store in Belgium to get some chocolate and stuff, and then had to go through immigration for the first time of the trip to get back into the UK.

Without a doubt, best weekend I’ve had here, and I’m hoping to make it back to Amsterdam at least one more time. This Wednesday I leave for Scotland. Staying a couple nights in Edinburgh, then a few nights in St. Andrews with a friend of a friend. And I might have a chance to get to play at St. Andrews, the birth place of golf, fingers crossed!


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