It was a long journey from Vienna, that involved almost missing my first train, an anxiety-riddled transfer in Germany, and a late arrival in Amsterdam. Beyond it being exhausting though, it wasn’t actually too bad. Plus by the end of the day, I was in a new city in a new country, and that’s always exciting. Time to start adventuring!
I began my first day in Amsterdam by taking a walking tour of the city. Like in Barcelona, the Sandemans company did its free walking tour here, and also like in Barcelona, it was incredible. You get inside views of the city, fun dark facts, and all kinds of other crazy stories as you walk through the monuments and attractions. For example, I learned that while prostitution is legal, use of marijuana actually isn’t, it’s just tolerated. Go figure.
We were shown some of the biggest houses in Amsterdam:
And some of the smallest:
We were brought to the building where the Dutch East India Trading Company did business.
And we were brought here, where our tour guide explained the way many Dutch last names came to be.
Apparently, way back when, the Dutch never really used last names, but when they had to start making official records for everything, last names became a greater necessity, so people were able to choose what their last name would be, anything at all. Most people chose to just use their profession as their last name, but some people made more bizarre choices. Our tour guide’s friend, he told us, was stuck with a ridiculous last name because someone in their family thought it would be hilarious to dub themselves the Pancakes family.
At one point in the tour, I looked up and nearly dropped my bag, startled to suddenly find myself in the Red Light Distract. So that was interesting.
We ended the tour on a bridge, which I can’t remember the name to, but it was once used as a prison, there being large cells built on the underside of the bridge.
From here I was on my own. I was a bit disoriented as to where I was in relation to anywhere I had been, and while I had a map, it wasn’t labelled very well. I had the opposite problem I’d been having in other cities: I was able to find street signs everywhere in Amsterdam, but practically no street names on my map. Eventually I figured out a system where I would count how many streets or canals I would need to cross before turning left or right and then carry on in that way, relying on my map purely as a visual guide. But for that to work, I needed to know where I was in the first place, which at the time, a little distance from that bridge, I did not.
I wandered around aimlessly for a bit, just sort of looking at everything around me. Then I found a place to grab a quick lunch (which was super tasty), and then I carried on wandering. By then I was getting a bit fed up with not knowing where I was, especially in hindsight as Amsterdam’s layout is actually pretty straight forward. But by some stroke of luck, I found myself back in Dam Square, where the tour had started, and I was finally able to orient myself on the map.
In the square I watched a magic show, where the guy turned a five euro note into a ten euro note and escaped from a straight jacket (not at the same time), and now, properly oriented, I did some happy further exploration.
If there’s one thing I can say about Amsterdam, it’s that it is covered in clogs. And bicycles. But the clog thing is funnier. Clogs are sold everywhere, traditional wooden ones, silly fuzzy slipper ones, display porcelain ones, you name it. There are also giant clogs on the street that you can just legit climb into and make into your second home. It’s hilariously delightful.
I walked through the flower market and admired the many tulips. There was a cool ceiling of flowers in one section. Looooved it!
On my way back to my hostel, I came across The English Bookstore, and got super excited and headed straight in and bought two books. The books there were so cheap, it was great! I was a happy camper by the end of the day.
Signing off now travel bugs, see you next time! ♥