By far, this is the shortest trip I’ve spent in one city that has so much to offer. It was such a shame that I didn’t get to experience Amsterdam in all its entirety. If you want to maximize your stay, don’t you even dare consider doing what I have just done. Well, if you’re too curious to know, I’m already warning you in advance… nothing juicy or crazy happened. Sex and drugs are not part of the story! :p
We left Paris last Friday at around 12AM via an organized bus tour with fellow Filipinos. Our first stop – Solingen, Germany. After almost 7 hours of driving, we reached the city. When the Gülabi Gerez Stahlwaren store opened at 7:30AM, people went gaga over the very famous kitchen knives, cutleries, pots, pans, plates and even grooming tools (a.k.a. manicure-pedicure stuff my mom would love) such as nippers, scissors, tweezers, nail files, etc. Trust me, outlet stores in the US selling the same things will pale in comparison to the bargain prices here. Even if the bus was only 2/3 full, the compartment was already packed with boxes after just 3 hours of shopping! (And sorry mom, I don’t have any box for you)
By 4PM, we were already in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We first checked in at the Novotel Amsterdam City which is a bit outside the city center. Since my phone was running out of juice, I decided to stay and just follow the Pinoy group later. I was alone when I left the hotel around 6PM. This is the first time in years that I felt lost in a foreign city! Whenever I go to a new place, I always do some research to get myself properly acquainted with directions, major landmarks and the transportation system. This time, I’ve never done any planning. It was still fortunate that I followed my instincts to not board the wrong train after I bought the wrong ticket. Great thing that English is very widely-spoken here, language is not really a barrier. I was saved by a Dutch couple when they helped me buy the right ticket and accompanied me in the metro going to the central station.
While waiting for my aunt’s call to let me know where they were, I decided that at the very least, I wanted to go and visit the Van Gogh Museum as previously suggested by a friend a few minutes after I posted a Facebook status that I’m in Amsterdam. When I arrived at the right tram station, I was so surprised when I heard someone calling my name. It wasn’t a Pinoy or anybody from our group. It was a former housemate of mine in Paris! She’s on a bus tour as well with other students and they were on their way to the museum too. What a coincidence! I may have started experiencing Amsterdam solo but it turns out I’m not gonna be alone for the rest of the night. Not just with one friend but with a big group of people! After, we went out to have dinner at a chinese restaurant. Nothing special about it except that it’s beside a couple of sex shops and there was a blow-up doll next to our table! Then, we had a couple of beers in a pub while dancing to mostly top 40 hits. I didn’t stay up very late since by 9AM the following day, we are scheduled to check-out to head towards Amsterdam’s outskirts. We visited a cheese farm (Jacob’s Hoeve) and a wooden shoe factory (De Vriendschap). The cheese tasted great but the shoes were… well, for decorative purposes only. Around noon, we started our return journey to Paris stopping only for lunch and the occasional bio breaks.
Overall, the experience was fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. However, I don’t think I will do these very short trips (< 1 day in a city) again. I felt at home when I was in Amsterdam and I really wish I could have stayed there for at least another full day. Nothing beats spontaneity, the experience of getting lost or being on the verge of being lost. That’s when unexpected things present themselves and you might be in for a good surprise. 11.11.11 in Amsterdam – short but sweet!