Sorry I have been MIA! Here’s Day Two of my Europe trip!!
Day Two: July 2nd
So my sleep wasn’t terrible. It was very hot, I woke up in a pool of sweat, but it wasn’t terrible, probably because I was so tired. Today is our last day in Amsterdam, so we plan on seeing as much of it as we can! Starting with, coffee first obviously, but starting with bikes!!
When you leave Hotel Cosmos and make a right, at the end of the street there is an adorable little bakery. We ordered cappuccinos, croissants and tea. Sitting outside we take cute pictures of the bakery and plan our day.
We made our way back to the hostel and rented bikes for €15 for the whole day. Dutch people are very tall, so you can probably imagine the bikes at their lowest were tall enough for someone 5’4. The bike was a little tall for me, but I was able to ride it. Chelsea is 5’9 and had no problem. However, Lindsey being 5’1 and Maria being 5’ experienced a little bit of trouble. It was so funny to watch Lindsey try to stop the bike and get off. At every red light you would see her legs swing over the top of the bike so she could step on the curb and wait for the light to turn green. We rode for a few hours to the busier part of the city. We passed the Anne Frank house, but the line was wrapped around the next block, so we skipped it. We thought about a boat tour through the canals, but the tour times were too close to the Heineken Brewery Tour times to be able to do both. Near the Anne Frank house is a ticket booth, so we went in and checked out prices of the tours available. We ended up buying three tickets, first, the Van Gogh Museum, second, the Heineken Brewery Tour and last, the Red Lights Secrets Tour. Amsterdam is partly known for legalized prostitution, so being curious tourists, we bought a tour for that.
We were most excited about the Heineken Brewery Tour and definitely wanted to shower before we went to that. According to the map, we could bike back near the hostel, go to the museum, bike back to the hostel, shower and get ready for the Heineken Tour, bike there, get food in that area, and bike to the Red Light District before 11pm.
Sweaty and excited with our plans for the day we left the ticket booth and rode over to the museum. Amsterdam is so beautiful. I feel so lucky to be in a place with my friend’s bike riding around this magnificent town. There is a canal down the middle of Amsterdam with boats, gondolas and families in paddle boats floating down stream. People lining the edge of the water, sitting, dangling their feet while licking ice cream cones. The buildings mesh together, muted shades of browns, reds and creams line the streets with pops of bright pink, purple and green flowers as we peddle by. We pass by the beautiful train station again; with architecture so gorgeously handcrafted it doesn’t seem real. This whole place is unlike anything I have ever seen before. People are outside having fun, not racing to work or in a pace too fast to notice anything. Everyone is simply enjoying life and where they are in the present moment. Families, couples, even people by themselves take in this stunning place. Hidden gardens, beautiful buildings around every corner; there is too much to admire, too much to miss.
We ride by an arch to a building with a hidden garden. We stop and take a few pictures; you don’t see things like this every day. A turn around the corner and there is the I Amsterdam sign. So many people crowded the statue. Vendors lined up across the sign and reeled us in for a sandwich and something cool to drink.
The Van Gogh Museum is behind the I Amsterdam sign and a little down the road. At the booth we were previously at, the tickets were “fast passes” so we were able to skip the line. The museum was very interesting. First, I must say, it was like walking into a meat locker, so refreshing after bike riding in 100 degree weather. The first thing we saw was a timeline of historical events in Van Gogh’s life. I thought I knew a lot about him already, but there’s so much to a person’s life. It informed you about his family members, his art, his writing, his mental condition, his death, and the death of his closest family members. He created so many famous works of art in a ten year span. His whole family had been involved in the art world.
After the museum we hopped back on our bikes, stopped for a cappuccino and planned our flight to Nice, France. It was later than expected, so we had to stay an extra night at Hotel Cosmos. The receptionist was able to give us a private room just for us four which was cool and had 100% potential to be much nicer than the room we were in last night. The room was right next door to where we stayed yesterday, and we had our own private balcony and bathroom.
Fortunately the showers in our new room had some cold water. Unfortunately Lindsey suffered through a hot shower. When I got in there I turned on the water and noticed that the cold side of the faucet was hot, but the hot side poured out cold water. It was a miracle. After getting ready we head back downstairs, hop on our bikes and head over to the Heineken Brewery. On the way there we asked another woman on a bike for directions. She was such a sweetheart, pointed out the right way, living in Amsterdam her whole life she had never been there. She wished us the best of luck with our travels and rode on by.
The brewery was closer than we thought. We locked up our bikes, skipped the line again and walked in. We were handed rubber wristbands with two chips exchangeable for two free beers. Inside was nice, a windy tour with memorabilia and stories. Heineken is the beer of Amsterdam, and the people are very proud of it/ their town/ country and culture. We learned all about how the beer is made, transported and the Heineken family history. After the educational part of the tour there was a mini simulation of how beer is made, where we stood on a platform and were shaken up, squirted with water and blown at with air. There was a gift shop, a game room and a bar area to explore. It was a really nice tour and I highly recommend it!
Around 3:30pm we stopped for food as we rode back to the hostel. We were all craving something familiar, and we decided on Chinese food. This was a mistake. Amsterdam is not known for having good Chinese food, or at least Chinese that resembled the food in America. Three out of the four of us ordered chicken, which turned out to be, like half of a rotisserie chicken, veins, liver and all. Maria knew what it was, and warned us to not eat the darker parts, filling us in later what we had almost consumed.
Now, back at the hostel and ready to ride to the Red Light District it looked like it was about to rain. Chelsea and I thought it would be fun to bike ride there in the rain, meanwhile Maria and Lindsey knew better. It began to drizzle during our debate, and the conclusion we came to lead with Maria running back upstairs to grab our rain jackets. I, unfortunately, had a cotton long sleeve button up, with no hood, and my travel companions all had full on rain jackets, but I made it work. During our ride there, it wasn’t pouring, but this was not a light rain. The turns in the roads became scary as it got darker. Chelsea and I were hysterically laughing, probably feeding off of a nervous laugh. The Red Light District was FAR from the hostel. We were slightly lost, in the dark now, while it’s raining, on very large bicycles, following street signs named “Ruysdaelstraat” and “Johannes Vermeerstraat.”
We came up to a round-about, Chelsea in the lead, followed by Lindsey, myself and Maria. We got separated by the cars, but kept going. It wasn’t until a block after the round-about that we noticed Maria was no longer behind us. Now enters fear into our previously mentioned emotions, Chelsea, Lindsey and I did not know what to do. I was the only one with data on my iPhone and tried to connect with Maria through all forms of social media. I also had the directions open before the round-about and told Maria it was the second right we had to take, and following Chelsea we went straight through. So maybe, Maria took the second right. We all peddled back to the round-about, didn’t see her, made the second right, and she was still not there. Our next thought was maybe she rode back to the hostel, luckily, unlike Lindsey and I, Maria is SO excellent with directions. We decide to go back to the hostel and wait for her; maybe we will see her on our way. A few moments later, a message pops up on my phone, from Maria. She ended up falling off her bike and she rode back to the hostel, she is okay though. We got there shortly, Maria was okay, laughing and mocking her injury! We decided to call a cab to the tour. The cab driver was so helpful getting us there as fast as he could, he taught us about driving in Amsterdam, which is just sort of a free-for-all, only aiming to not hit anyone. He also warned us about the people on this side of town. The Red Light District is mainly tourists. Local people don’t really come to this side of town and after being there I saw why. I felt so uncomfortable, I mean, it was an experience to see, but for me once was enough.
We got to the tour a few minutes late. It is located in an old brothel house turned museum. As soon as you walk in there is a mini clip playing, “A Day in the Life of a Red Light Girl.” The clip showed you how they get ready for their days. Local places bring items such as toilet paper and bread to the girls before their shifts start. After the film we were able to freely walk around the house. Each room was themed differently, with larger and smaller beds, bathtubs, mirrors, whips and handcuffs. There were plaques on the walls with stories told by different girls that had lived there. It was actually really upsetting, some of the girls were forced, others couldn’t stop because they needed the money, and some actually liked it. In a few years some of the more popular girls would have seen over a thousand clients. Some of the girls chose S &M, meaning they did not have to perform sexual acts they would just whip and talk down to their clients; this was a desired position for many girls.
During the tour, there were windows that faced the streets with red lights so you could sit and feel how the girls feel. It was awkward because people will actually stop and just stare at you, and the lights are very hot. There was a sign with tips on how to gain attraction and customers, pretty much saying to show as much as possible.
We walked the streets for a little finding out that there are over 200 red windows in Amsterdam. Most of the girls looked bored and were texting, some were standing, and some were sitting. The women looked as young as 18 and as old as late 40s, and some transvestites. We walked into a bar, ordered one drink and left to get some gelato. Lindsey and Chelsea shared a Nutella crepe and a Nutella waffle, those girls can eat.
We got back to the hostel pretty late, and had to get up early for our flight to Nice. We have a cab coming at 5am. We wish we had more time here! It’s been real Amsterdam, hope to see you again soon ❤