First stop - Amsterdam
Amsterdam was the first stop on my trip to Europe and spent just over 24 hours there. What a beautiful city!
Where I went
To be honest, I think I saw a huge chunk of the city. When you don't pay for any attractions or tours and just explore for hours on foot, it's amazing how much ground you can actually cover! I went all through the city, along various canals and stopped to enjoy the sights along the way. I saw the Noorderkerk, de Oude Kerk, the I Amsterdam sign, Rijksmuseum and Vondelpark. The park near Rijksmuseum was so lovely, there was a spot just outside with a fountain and heaps of seats where I stopped for a while and had a break.
I really liked the outer neighbourhoods where the smell of weed didn't hit you every few metres and the buildings were that beautiful old Dutch style. I particularly liked Jordaan and Amsterdam Oud-Zuid near the park, I think it was Museumkwartier where I saw some of the most beautiful streets.
I stayed at Bob's Youth Hostel for just one night. It was a pretty basic hostel without many bells and whistles. The beds were clean and comfy with large lockers, the bathrooms weren't in the best condition but they weren't dirty, the shower had good water pressure, it was in a great location and the wifi was very fast. There was no complimentary breakfast and the place had no kitchen and not much of a common room so it wasn't somewhere I would like to stay for too long. Also, I made the mistake of leaving my big pack at the back of their luggage room, and when I arrived back in the afternoon it was lost under the pile of suitcases and packs so I had to go digging. But at the end of the day, it was the cheapest place I could find in the city and it really wasn't bad so I'm happy.
As I mentioned earlier, I walked the whole time. It felt a bit like cheating because I should've been on a bike in Amsterdam right?! To be honest, last time I was there I went on a bike and it really felt like I was dancing with death. Even walking put me in danger a few times; I would forget which way to look then go to cross, only to remember last minute and jump back before getting taken out by a cyclist. The Dutch love their fiets but I prefer my own feet.
I took a tram from Amsterdam Centraal to where my bus for Cologne left and that was an ordeal. I didn't find the directions at the station to be overly intuitive, but then I realised it was most likely because the app I used (Cityplanner) had actually suggested I take a tram, not a train. In the city you can buy an hour pass for the trams, I'm not sure if it works for buses too, but that was all I needed and the machine I used had English and there was also a friendly man from the station helping people with it, so I had no issues once I was in the right place.
The tram was good and now I'm sitting on the bus to Copenhagen. It's a RegioJet bus and I chose it because it was the cheapest and had no stops. I've started using Go Europe which lets me look at bus, train and plane options across different companies all in one go which is so easy, definitely going to stick with it from now. I was told previously that FlixBus was the best to go with for buses and Go Europe has them as well which is great. It's quite nice sitting on an airconditioned bus with free wifi and charging capabilities after spending hours walking around Amsterdam in the heat (it got up to 28 degrees yesterday!).
Hopefully you were not lead to my blog with the hopes of finding lots of amazing places to eat around the world. Unfortunately, due to my budget, I will not be enjoying the culinary delights of Europe as much as you might hope. At this stage I will mostly be sticking to quick, cheap and easy, including a lot of supermarket options and some fast food. I will try to share some good snacks with you from the places I visit though!
The Dutch love their sugary treats and one of the most famous is the stroopwaffle. It's a small biscuit version of a waffle with a sweet but buttery filling. I had some of those and some chocolate from an Albert Heijn supermarket for snacks throughout the day and for dinner had a pretty average pasta from a new Italian restaurant, which was sorely disappointing. I was wandering around for ages, trying to decide what to eat, and when I finally decided on Italian there none in sight. I went with the first one I can across and I didn't even bother with the name because it was so average... Sorry to underwhelm you! But don't worry, I'll try get a German meal when I get to Cologne!
Have you been to Amsterdam before? What was your favourite part?!