There are trips worth going & there are trips worth waiting for the right occasion but a trip to Amsterdam is like a trip worth fighting for. It has been on my bucket list for 10 years now & striking it off the list had given me the pleasure unimagined.
I have decided to go to Amsterdam for the long weekend with my friend Chandu, she lives in Prague & we decided to meet in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on Saturday afternoon & officially start the trip.
Day 1: Flight landed in Schiphol & as soon as I entered the airport I got lost in its sheer size, I haven’t expected the airport to be comparable to Dubai & London. Finally, we made our way through to the train station & got our daily passes for 2 days & started our trip.
Trains were cool, some of them even had 2 storeys to accommodate more people, Intercity trains looked massive compared to metro trains I am habituated right now in Stockholm. We were so immersed in conversation & taking selfies that we missed our station & got down in the next one & had to catch another one back.
As we got down & started our journey towards the hotel, I understood its a city of cycles, I could see bicycles all around me, I could claim that I have seen more bicycles than people throughout the trip. Those rocky tiles & cement roads led our way to narrow path with lustrous green trees on both sides, they were truly refreshing and rejuvenating to start an adventure. Our hotel room was a dormitory with 8 beds, as we enter there are people from various places, few on holiday, few on work. I have seen different faces every day & I didn’t get much time to interact with these guys as we barely stayed in the room, started early in the morning & returned late night.
First thing on the list is canal cruise through the city, there couldn’t be a better way to explore the essence dutch capital. We got soaked in the beauty & history of Amsterdam while passing through merchant houses, gothic churches, medieval building, museums & bridges while hearing the boat commentary on their history & stories. One of the most fascinating things were the boat houses & people who are still living there, I felt the time had stayed still in that place from the 18th century. With a transparent glass roof & sides, I could see the bridges opening from below to the beautiful stars in the sky & medieval streets running along was a scene imprinted in my memories forever.
We had a friend Srikanth coming up from Den Haag & together we got the most famous cheese french fries from Dam Square which was so crowded and reminded us of busy chowrasthas and shopping streets in India. Then we made our way to the most famous streets of Amsterdam’s RLD, It has a 14th-century architecture with bridges separating various streets. It was the most crowded place in Amsterdam, even more than Dam Square, there were streets filled with Bulldog cafes & we searched for the original one & got in for dinner & ordered few of the best delicacies it could offer. Went for a short stroll after dinner & decided we will come back again the next day & parted for the day.
Day 2: After a jam-packed day 1, we had to take good rest as we know we are going to have a long day on Sunday. We were under an impression that Kings Day was on Monday & experience the crazy celebrations but apparently, it was the day before we arrived. So on Sunday, we have decided to stroll along the Amsterdam Streets & Dam Square in the morning löoking at the aftermath of the celebrations in the morning. We hunted Amsterdam streets for good pics & food, had fancy looking waffles, it was a festival for my taste buds & a burn for my pocket.
We had a jam-packed afternoon starting with Heineken Experience, where I had visited the first built brewery of great Heineken & experienced the beer brewing & bottle packing process. It was a unique experience on its own, It could not be denied it was worth the time & money with a personal touch in the process of brewing with us able to do some milling the grain, boiling in the container & tasting the sample. It ended with my shot at beer serving & many free samples on the house.
Our afternoon followed by Madame Tussauds & Dungeon. Madame Tussauds was a wonderful experience quenching my fandom thirst, with all the people I admire & dream off at the same place. I went absolutely crazy taking pictures with my childhood heroes & heroines. Amsterdam Dungeon was trying to recreate the events of former slave dungeons which are used to detain criminals and torture them, it was a well-performed act with we being the guilty sent to serve our sentence, It was well choreographed & few places were scary enough to make Chandu jump from her place.
We met Srikanth at our rendezvous point in Dam Square & tried out an Indian restaurant in the street, It was a relief to get some good Indian food after a month and a half living abroad. We decided to head back to RLD leaving Chandu after dinner to stay true to our promise from the last day & took a long and leisurely stroll across the streets.
After finalizing on the Monday activities we decided to call it a day as the Dutch weather started treating us like Dutch people.
Day 3: On Monday we decided to go out of town and explore Keukenhof (Tulip garden) & Den Hague. So I had to wake-up early & get ready not to miss the bus. We took a cruise across the Singel to reach the place near Eye film museum, from where the busses took off. It was a scenic view across the canal & central on the other side, it was the first canal that surrounded the city before it started expanding in the 16th Century. Road journey was a memorable one, Dutch Beauty was unforgettable with lush green trees & vast fields of grass & windmills, we enjoyed every second of the journey.
We reached Keukenhof by 11 in the morning & Dutch weather had already started giving us the glimpses of its harshness with a drizzle & strong wind. Thanks to Chandu’s red umbrella we were able to survive. But the garden was a feast for eyes, its beauty surpasses any park or scenery I saw till date. Even while trying to act manly by not caring about flowers, I couldn’t help but marvel its beauty. Rain & wind didn’t deter us from exploring every part of the park. So after we had our heart full of Tulips enough for a lifetime, we have decided to ditch the bus which was supposed to take us to Amsterdam back & take a bus of our own to Den Hague.
We continued to fight with Dutch weather as we reached Madurodam, it was a miniature park of all the replicas of Dutch monuments, historical cities & museums of Netherlands with interesting video stories of its historical importance. It was a very fun and educational experience to look at the whole Netherlands in a single place. We decided to go to International Court of Justice walking around the city enjoying the all the embassy roads & city halls leading to the Peace Palace. It was huge, we were not allowed inside but the massiveness of the building speaks for itself, there was a world peace flame which is lit outside the court with around 190 countries bringing the flame from their place. It was inspirational to watch that the efforts to make this world a peaceful place is always alive.
We decided to end our day on a beach and headed towards Scheveningen beach on the north sea where we met Srikanth, It was a very different experience with cold wind from sea trying to blow us out of the beach & we persevering ahead. We decided to climb the lighthouse & reach the highest point on the beach to marvel the beauty of the city and to test our limits. It was a magnificent sight to watch the beach and city from there, It was interesting to see a number of surfers in the sea in that weather. After filled with awe moments from the top of lighthouse we have slowly headed back to Amsterdam.
We were not ready for the trip to end, we wanted it to continue. We reached our dorm and tried to outrun the night with our silly and serious discussions but eventually, we succumbed to our fatigue and fell asleep. With a flight early morning next day & a city-wide bus strike I was in for a fun and ambiguous ride in the morning.
Day 4: I started early in the morning at 4:30 from the hotel with less than 2 hrs of sleep & still fighting the Dutch weather waited for a morning bus to take me to the airport. I was asked to get down in middle due to strike & forced to take another bus. With time running out I had shown my athletic skills to reach the airport security where a huge line laid ahead of me to reach for the security check. After an elaborate check of my bag removing everything outside, I have reached the gate after the gates closed. I was lucky, one of the cabin crew got struck outside due to strike & the gates flight was still waiting for her.
Trips are generally fun, but with a crazy partner, we can take it to a next level. This was a trip to remember for a lifetime with so many memories and crazy moments to count in my first international trip. I have reached Stockholm by 9:30 on Tuesday and thus my adventure ended.