Leaving the comfort of Guernsey & my famille, I nervously took my flight to Amsterdam on the Monday afternoon. This was it, I was on my own from now on.
After a seamless flight, my bag & I reached Amsterdam safely & I spent a few hours in the airport, attempting to work out the train ticket machines & follow the instructions to the hostel. After managing to get on the correct train & get off at Bijlmer Arena A, the nearest stop to my hostel, I realised I hadn't got any clear directions after that & ended up getting lost. Dragging my case up & down the street, as it wobbled all over the place & constantly fell over, I was already hating on life. Up stairs, down stairs & then finally, I found the hostel & praise the lord it had a lift!
My previous fear of hostels was definitely unwarranted. The showers were clean & modern, the other girls in my eight bed room were all really nice & the hostel had a great communal area. A large corner sofa facing a big screen TV on the wall & a huge collection of DVDs to choose from, led to a few film nights. I didn't bother with attempting to cook anything in the kitchen, but it was clean & modern.
Not five minutes had passed since I checked into the all-female hostel, when a young Scottish girl checked in & off we went to dinner, rolling in at one in the morning, after an evening of non-stop chatting.
The Scott & I spent the first three days together, exploring Amsterdam. On day one, we decided to familiarise ourselves with the area by going on a three hour 'free' walking tour, half of which I couldn't hear & subsequently ended in us being guilt-tripped into handing over a handful of our precious euros to the dutch tour guide. I won't be making that mistake again.
We strolled round the red light district, attempting not to stare at the woman in windows or get run over by cyclists as we crossed the roads. We took in the sights of wonky architecture & boats strolling down the canals. Popping into all the beautiful stores in the nine streets area, I felt sad that I have no home to come back to & couldn't buy anything. So many lovely things that would have gone so well in my house.
On one of the days, we visited the famous flower market, which was unfortunately, not as impressive as anticipated. Tulip bulbs aren't really that photogenic. Attempting to cover everything, we strolled around the Red Light District, Jordan area, the Nine Streets & De Pijp. By day three, there was nothing left to see, that didn't involve shelling out for a museum.
As I don't have space in my rucksack for souvenirs, I decided that the only suitable thing I could take from Amsterdam, bar the photos & the memories, was a tattoo. So I had a small tattoo of the three crosses, which adorn everything in Amsterdam, done down the back of my arm, above my elbow. I even made friends with the guy from the tattoo shop.
After a few evenings eating out, dodging the rain & enjoying each others company, the Scott checked out & flew back home. I on the other hand, had been enjoying my time in Amsterdam a little too much & had failed to plan my next stop. Forced to stay an extra two days, the weather beginning to sear, I began to feel trapped by the 'Dam. Desperate to leave, I spent an entire day in my hostel, cooled by the air conditioning, whilst it was thirty degrees outside, furtively looking into flights, trains, boats, whatever was the cheapest, quickest route out.
As the light outside faded to darkness, I sighed in relief, at finally having booked my travels up until the middle of September. I was finally going to be free of the 'Dam! The following day was my last in Amsterdam & with no one to hang out with, I grabbed my books & headed into town. Taking a thirty minute walk, I went down to Vondelpark & sat & watched the twenty something dogs, running around, playing with each other. Mr Pig would never be that well behaved, he would be fighting with all of them!
A few hours spent in the park, I walked back up, went through Nine Streets, into Jordan, back into the Red Light District & then home to the hostel. Some of the girls & I sat in the communal area & watched a few films & then at midnight I finally left to go to the airport.
Three days is enough time to cover Amsterdam. I may have omitted to partake in the weed smoking & the cycling, which I'm sure would have added to the experience, but I did enjoy my time there, at least in the beginning.