amsterdam // day 1

4:30am wake up call: rough. Within five minutes I’m dressed and ready to go (albeit still in zombie mode). I take the 94 bus, for the last time, up to Marble Arch, and walk to the airport coach stop from there. The streets are quiet and incredibly peaceful. The coach takes around an hour, which leaves me just enough time to make it through security (where some asshole guard makes me toss my newly bought toothpaste and contact solution). At the boarding gate I am met by yet another unfriendly human being, this time a bitchy EasyJet employee, who tells me I’m not allowed to bring two bags (even though their combined size is much smaller than the maximum allowed) on board. I somehow manage to negotiate my way through.

Everything goes smoothly at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport, and within minutes I am on a train to Amsterdam Centraal, right in the city center (4€). On my way to the hostel I cannot help but marvel at the architecture around me: dainty, sometimes slightly slanted homes that could come right out of a fairytale. I cross over at least three different canals, thinking I would definitely live here.

I check in and drop my bags off at Shelter City Hostel, where Laurel and I will be staying for three nights. Speaking of Laurel: she is, at this point, on her way here from Paris by train. Before her arrival I have a quick cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich from the café (Café ‘t Loosje) next door. Served on a baguette, it’s cheap, simple and delicious (3€). Just the type of food that doesn’t exist in North America.

Laurel arrives, just as tired as myself, and we decide to take a stroll. We stumble upon a lovely concept store called Anna + Nina, and an independent clothing shop called SEC. Right by the Amsterdam Museum, there is also Lucies Amsterdam, an adorable jewelry store I would like to call ‘Amsterdam’s Brooklyn Charm’. Indeed, it sells both premade and custom jewelry, the majority of which are simple, dainty charms hanging playfully from neon or neutral strings.

After purchasing a Museumcard (59€), we visit the Amsterdam Museum. The first few galleries are part of Amsterdam DNA, an exhibit that provides a very insightful overview of the city’s history – from its earliest days to more recent events such as the legalization of soft drugs and same-sex marriage. Equally interesting are the permanent galleries, which explore later centuries into more depth. There are two things that’ll stick with me: first, that horses regularly fell into the canals and would be retrieved using special mechanical hoists, and second, that the Dutch consumed four times as much beer in the 16th century as they do today (partly due to the fact that water was not drinkable back then).

Next, we quickly pass through Bejinhof, a quaint and quiet square of houses that was once home to a group of women who did not wish to become nuns. Today, it is inhabited by regular people (whom I feel rather bad for, with all the tourists around). We also attempt to visit the New Church, but unfortunately find out it is closed until the day after we leave. I do, however, hear it is quite beautiful and would recommend it. As it is Sunday, many shops and museums are closing early, and there is not much else we can do but head back to our hostel before dinner.

Shelter City is located right by Chinatown (and by the Red Quarter, but that’s a whole other story). After checking out a few places, we are intrigued by one restaurant in particular, as its menu contains the infamous ramen burgers. Having never tried this Buzzfeed-approved delicacy, Laurel and I end up in Eat Mode. She orders the beef, and I the tofu burger, each of which is accompanied by a handful of savory (albeit a tad too oily) sweet potato fries (7€). The ramen burgers themselves are interesting texture-wise, and taste perfectly fine, but I am a little disappointed by their lack of flavor. Oh well, a little soy sauce somewhat makes up for that.

We’re both completely full but there’s only one thing on our mind: waffles. There’s a nicer looking waffle shop close by, Yscuypje, and we walk in without hesitation. We each order our own, and the pastries are warmed up while we choose our toppings. Laurel opts for cinnamon sugar and honey, and I powdered sugar and chocolate (3.50€). We savor these bad boys on our way back to the hostel, digest and go to sleep, completely exhausted by this long day.

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