For the first time since leaving England I am blogging in a state of mind that is actually awake and alert. Normally when I get round to doing this it is nearing midnight but it's currently around 5pm here in Amsterdam and this city is a lot less tiring than Paris. Reasons for this? It's far smaller and with less things to see and do.
I didn't get round to blogging yesterday so I'll start this entry with the start of yesterday.
I left Paris and caught my train to Brussels. I decided not to venture out of the station and in the end this was the right decision as I later found out that my interchange station was on the outskirts of the city. In the end, once I'd boarded the train to Amsterdam, we travelled through Brussels so I saw some of the famous sights from the train.
This train journey was simply beautiful. As Amsterdam is at one of the furthest points away from Brussels in The Netherlands it meant the train had to travel through the country to reach the city. This meant I saw lots of the landscape, again from the train. I knew agriculture was a big part of the Dutch industry (tulips, for example) but I didn't realise quite how much. Fields as far as the eye could see on this incrediably flat country (compared to the Montmartre area of Paris) were quite picturesque. We went through a few cities, notably Rotterdam which had some fairly decent skyscrappers.
When I arrived in Amsterdam I noticed how different the weather is from Paris. In Paris I was enjoying clear blue skies and temperatures well in the 20's but here it is overcast with a bitter wind. Not such a bad thing and I've never been uncomfortably cold.
It took me so long to find this hostel and ended up having to go to a tourist centre to get directions and a map. I've been pretty good with not getting lost and finding my way to where I want to go but finding the hostel for the first time, with a backpack, has been so annoying and stressful.
This Globe hostel is very different to the Square hostel in Montmartre - in both good and bad ways. The good is the reception area is a pub constantly showing sport from around the world (I saw the Chelsea v Benfica game here). They do an English breakfast and it's all reasonably priced. The bad is the dorm. I won't be getting one with 10 people again. Maybe it's just Amsterdam but the majority of people in my room all know each other and are just on a holiday with their mates. This is fine and they're nice people but it's difficult to talk with them. I want to be meeting other solo travllers like I did in Paris. This was always an experimental trip and I've learnt so much already. I'm glad I've tried it.
After I had some dinner and watched the Chelsea game I went and got stoned in the Coffee Shop just down the road. Best spliff I've had in my life. I swear if the likes of Lenin, Hitler and Churchill or Saddam Huissan, Bush and Gaddaffi had all sat down and had a smoke together so many lives would not have been lost!
I then had a wonder around the Red Light District which my literary ability just isn't good enough to describe. So much fun just walking around watching customers looking for a prostitute or watching the girls try and lure you in. Just jokes.
Meet a couple of cool people in a pub and managed to get a sport headline translated for me into English. "Di Matteo has faith in Torres". Yes, they even talk about his form in Holland.
I got back to the hostel at around 3am (having got lost and having no idea how I got lost!)
Today I sorted hostels and trains for the next part of my journey. I have a train to Frankfurt on Saturday, a night in this city, before I head to Berlin on Sunday where I have until Thursday. Looking forward to them especially as Frankfurt was something I only decided to do spontaneously today.
I went in the Anne Frank museum which for the 1.30hr queue wasn't really worth it. Yes, the story is humbling, sad and incrediable but the museum itself hasn't preserved the original house well enough for it to really feel like you were standing in the same place as those hiding Jews.
For the rest of the day I just wondered around seeing the sights and watching some pretty cool and different street performers.
Amsterdam is certainly a carefree, fun-loving and free city. The people here are so happy. They have smiles on their faces or glazed eyes or both. This liberal style from not being too strict on graffiti (some of this is really great and impressive) legalising marijuana and prostitution makes this city so unique. Without this liberal attitude Amsterdam would be no more than Rotterdam for it's tourist industry. If the Dutch government does go ahead and make weed only legal to Dutch residents then the tourist industry and economy is going to drop rapidly.