Netherlands & Belgium 2018 – Day 0/1

[02.17.18-02.18.18]

A lot of people have been asking me, of all places, why did you choose to go to Amsterdam? In all honesty, Netherlands did not even make my personal ‘to go’ list. My deciding factor was that I only had one week off for Spring break and plane tickets to this city were one of the cheapest. We paid approximately $400 CAD for round trip tickets with 1 layover in Reykjavik, Iceland with WOW Air.

Flying with WOW Air is very inexpensive but you get what you paid for – you only get to bring a personal item on then plane; carry on and check in luggage have extra costs. You have to bring your own water or pay for it on the plane. And finally, as repeatedly stated by the woman sitting next to me on the plane for 6 hours, the seats were cramped. Thank goodness I had my music to drown out her never ending complaints. Although I did miss airplane movie marathons, free water, and good airplane food like that of Cathay Pacific or Korean Air, as a student with an unthinkable amount of debt, I would rather be cheap and suck it up for a few hours.

 

Unfortunately, our flight to Amsterdam from Keflavik Airport was delayed so our layover was extended from 1 hour 10 minutes to around 4 hours. On the bright side, we had more time to explore the airport and grab some food. By the time we had landed, both my friend and I were famished. We went to Joe and the Juice and bought the ‘Joe’s Club’ sandwich/panini and it was one of the most delicious things we had on the trip. We actually got another on the way back home. I will definitely be buying one of these on every stop in Iceland on future trips to Europe. Now enough of my sandwich praise; it’s time to move onto Day 1.

When we arrived at Schiphol Airport and were wandering around to find the train to Amsterdam Central Station, I secretly thought that I was looking for Platform 9 and 3/4 (I apologize for my nerd Harry Potter reference). It was chaotic and I felt a little lost. A one way train ticket to Central station was around € 5.30.

What was interesting about our guesthouse was that we had to take a ferry to get there. The ferry runs frequently for 24 hours and we never had to wait more than a minute for it to come. We took it countless number of times and each time, it felt new. Sometimes it would be during the day, sometimes at night, sometimes during sunsets. It was always beautiful and calm. It was also interesting to see all the bicyclists and scooters getting on with us.

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In terms of our hostel, we stayed at ClinkNoord in a 10 bed female room which was around $25/night. This hostel was huge with many rooms and facilities that could be used by guests, even its own cafeteria/restaurant and bar. The other girls in our room were from the States, Korea, and Australia. Many other girls came and went after 1 night but we didn’t get the chance to talk to all of them.

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In front of Clinknoord, there is a small stream. It is beautiful to see on a sunny mid afternoon when the sky is clear. Guests are also able to rent bicycles but as it was quite cold and we feared getting run over by rush hour bike traffic, we decided to just take photos with them and pretend that one of them was ours.

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This was one of the most memorable places for me in Amsterdam. To get to the other side of Central Station, you have to go through this tunnel. There was something very soothing about walking through, listening to the echoing blurs of people talking, hearing the bicycles rush past you, and seeing the faded buildings from the sun’s haze on the other side.

Next, we spent a few hours walking through the cozy streets and taking photos in each alleyway. I couldn’t help but imagine what it would feel like to walk these romantic streets with a significant other.

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Amsterdam is known for their many types of apple pie. As I am an extreme pie lover, trying a slice from Winkel 43, one of the most famous places for apple pie, was on my most anticipated foods list. Hands down, one of the best slices I have ever had. The perfect combination with fresh whipped cream and a cup of honey, mint tea to balance out the sweetness was on point. I wish I could have brought a full pie home…

After eating, we continued to walk around de Wallen, absorbing the Amsterdam air. We came a month before tulip festival but there were still flowers around here and there.

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At night, we visited the famous Red Light District. I was a little nervous about going there but there were mostly tourists on the streets. For those with kids, I would not recommend walking around some of this area at night.

 

After seeing many steakhouses on our afternoon stroll, our final destination was Cafe Loetje. We chose this restaurant because it was recommended by many people on travel forums. I do enjoy eating steak once in a while but in my opinion, I could not tell why it was so special. The restaurant atmosphere was nice though.

End of Day 1.

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