We knew today wouldn’t be our best right from the very start, when Justine woke up at 6am and vomited. Now isn’t that a pleasant way to start a blog post…well it’s an even less pleasant way to start a day. Kristin really wished she could just tell her to stay in bed and sleep all day, but that is not exactly conducive to our vagabond lifestyle. The fact is, we needed to be out of our Brussels hostel by 10:30am and in Amsterdam by the end of the day if we wanted a guaranteed place to sleep.
To make the trip seem more manageable we divided it up into smaller steps: (1) Get to the Metro (2) Get to the Train Station (3) Get settled onto the Train (4) Get to Amsterdam (5) Find our Trolley (6) Get to the Hostel
Things went rather smoothly, if you don’t count Justine throwing up when we were still only on Step 1. Yes, we had a few exciting minutes where Bean was throwing up in the metro station garbage, but she powered through and held it together the rest of the way. Our train ride was 3 hours so she got a good chance to nap in the middle of the traveling excitement.
Our Amsterdam hostel is a little ways out of the city center so we decided to utilize public transport. Rather than an expansive metro system, Amsterdam uses a network of above ground trams. It is really much more practical in a city full of canals. They might be a bit slower than a subway train but you get a good view of the city while you travel. Tram 25 was nice & close to the hostel. It’s in a really nice area with a big park across the street. The hostel itself is pretty nice. We’re in a 10 bed room so it might be a bit crazy in the morning, but the room isn’t too squishy so it should be ok. There’s a nice breakfast/common area/kitchen in the basement…a couple of armchairs and a lot of tables.
When we had checked in we immediately tucked Justine in for a nap…she was feeling the need to be horizontal. When she was all comfy Kristin set off to find a snack…she was starving! She asked the man at the reception desk if he knew somewhere nearby for a cheap snack. He told her to walk to the end of the block, turn right & walk 100m. She did and ended up in the middle of a giant street market!
It took over an hour to walk the whole thing, so it was a good time killer while Justine got some much needed rest. There were stands selling everything imaginable: produce, meat, cheese, waffles, clothes, shoes, fabric, spices, souvenirs, toys, nuts…etc, etc. Kristin munched on a small cup of grapes, some yummy homemade wafers & some dried apricots. It was a super cheap, super delicious lunch.
Kristin then returned home & checked on her ill cousin. Justine had just woken up and was feeling a bit better. We decided though that she could still sleep a little more. So Kristin went the basement and entertained herself on iPad…including talking to her parents on FaceTime 🙂 After another hours nap Justine was feeling up to seeing some of the city.
We took the tram to Central Station and then walked to Dam Square. This stretch and the area around it would be considered the center & main tourist area of Amsterdam. We walked into a couple of souvenir shops and grabbed a quick something to eat. The exciting part of this was that Justine ate a sandwich and it did not come back up! This is a picture of an old building in Dam Square:
Amsterdam is a hard city to describe. It’s gorgeous! The streets are full of old and interesting buildings. Some are beautifully classic, while some have a slight wonderful quirk to them. Then there are the canals. They are so picturesque that you want to take a photo of every single one. We tried to scope out the one from the picture at the Padget parent’s house…could it be any of these?
But there is definitely more to Amsterdam than beautiful architecture and scenic canals…this place has a whole other side. We know you have all heard about this city and how it has no laws against pot & prostitution. And as you get closer and closer to the Red Light District this becomes increasingly evident. There is that slight sweet smell to the air that tells you someone (or several someones) are definitely smoking up behind that coffee shop’s closed door. There are the signs for discount sex shops mixed in between the signs for tourist shops & restaurants. And then, when you reach the right streets, there are the florescent red light lined windows featuring girls in almost nothing, tapping the window trying to get the attention of any man passing by. It’s so hard for us to wrap our heads around, even though it’s right in front of us. The idea that prostitution is legal is hard enough to get, but then there’s the fact that girls actually choose that as their career. We think we are pretty open minded, but maybe not that open…
All in all we really enjoyed our first foray out into the city, although it was brief. We got back to the hostel at about 8:30 so Justine could go to bed early. And early she went…she was fast asleep by 9 pm! We have thought about it and have decided it was probably just a 24 hour stomach bug. She was feeling a little better by bed time so hopefully she will be 100% again tomorrow!
Love, Luck & Ladies of the Night,