amsterdam.

Once again, we woke up very early at 5am in order to make our 6am train from Brugge to Amsterdam. Since Cedric and I already had our train tickets reserved, we were good to go. Jed decided to take a different train than us so that he could make it to Amsterdam at the same time (since he didn’t reserve his train, he couldn’t take the same one that we were on). When he left on his train, Cedric told me jokingly that we would never find him in Amsterdam. We had a plan though – Jed had Cedric’s cell number and would call us from a payphone once he got to the station in the city.

Once Cedric and I got off the train, we locked our backpacks up in some lockers at Central Station and headed out to explore. Cedric has been to Amsterdam multiple times with friends, so he knew his way around. We headed to his favorite coffeeshop first. I forget the name of it, but it was quite simple. We walked inside and headed upstairs, and relaxed and waited for Jed. It was really bizarre to see everyone smoking so freely. Although it’s completely legal there, I couldn’t get used to it at first. Jed finally got a hold of us so we headed back to Central Station to meet up. We got our luggage back out and the three of us walked around the city in search of a hostel to stay at. We had planned on camping, but the weather was rainy and uncooperative. Unfortunately, since it was a Friday night, every single hostel in the city was booked full for the night. Two hours later, we decided to stop at a coffeeshop and regroup so we could figure out where we could eventually sleep for the night. Cedric ran around and found a booking company that told him that we could stay on a boat overnight for 32 euro per person. Although it was a bit more expensive than we were hoping for, it was either that or sleeping on the street, so we headed over to the boat. A cheerful old man named Ben was the captain of the small houseboat that we were staying at. The main floor of the boat was a small dining room and the floor beneath held a handful of rooms for people to stay in. Our room was TINY: it held two small built-in bunk beds, and that was about it. In total, the room was the length of the beds and the width of the beds plus maybe two feet. Jed went out to explore while Cedric and I took naps since we were exhausted.

Once everyone was up, we went out to find a place to eat some good Dutch food. We found a restaurant with outdoor seating (Jed was looking for “ambiance”) and we shared a bowl of Dutch stir-fry, which was chicken with vegetables in a delicious sauce. Next up was the Damrak Sex Museum. I really don’t have any words to describe this museum other than raunchy, disgusting, and insane. It was quite a sight to see and was well worth the 2 euro it cost to go in. We spent an hour or so there, goggling at the revolting images, laughing at the funny ones, and making more immature jokes than one should, but it was definitely a good time. Jed knew of a coffeeshop called Siberie where there was wifi, so we walked over there next. After Jed checked his messages (I didn’t feel like lugging my computer around), we decided to walk through the red light district.

When people say that Amsterdam is a free city, there really isn’t any better way to put it. The legalization of marijuana and prostitution is something very strange to see. People smoking on the streets and in restaurants, near-naked girls standing in street-level windows… it’s just crazy. We made it about halfway through the red light district before my ankle starting acting up again. I was exhausted and in pain, and so I wanted to go back to the boat and pass out for the night. I offered to take a taxi myself so the boys could continue their walk, but they insisted that that was a bad idea so they came with me. Rather than a taxi, we had the bright idea to hop into the little carriage pulled by a man on a bicycle. The ride was absolutely hilarious. We were all giggling the whole way back to the boat, as people stared at us like we were crazy for all three of us trying to fit into this this. We made it back though, and rested up for day two.

We woke up just in time to make the free (/included) breakfast on the boat, which was bread with cold cuts of meat and cheese. Is this what the Dutch eat for breakfast? Interesting. My ankle was still in extreme pain, so I finally decided that it was time to see a doctor. Jed and I walked for a bit trying to find the hospital with our map, but we gave up after I kept complaining and took a taxi to the ER. Once I was there, I told Jed that he could go (he was planning on taking a day trip to Haarlem) and I waited for about 30 minutes before being seen. The doctor walked in and began speaking to me in Dutch, and when he saw my confused face, he said, “Oh, so you want to speak in English?” Yes please! After a brief examination, he told me that I had sprained my ligament that goes from my calf to the outside of my left foot. He wrapped it up and told me the only real way to heal it was with rest. 200 euros later, I was a bit frustrated. I had to pay upfront and mail my bill to my insurance in order to maybe be reimbursed. Grr! I took another taxi back to the boat and met up with Cedric. While I took a nap, he went out, and once I woke up, we went back to Siberie so I could email my parents with a health update.

Jed met up with us at Siberie, and after we grabbed a cheap pizza dinner, the three of us walked around for a while (as long as I could manage) with stops at a few bars so Jed could add Bavaria, Amstel, and Heineken to his Europe beer list. We went back to the red light district so we could see the whole thing (still just as crazy as the night before, if not crazier). While at our final bar for Jed’s Heineken, a soccer game was on. Watching a game with a French guy is nothing like watching a soccer game in America. Soccer, according to Cedric, is the religion of Europe, and by watching him watching this game, I couldn’t agree more. He kept asking me, “How are you not reacting to this?!?! It’s so beautiful! Whaou!” It was too funny. After a long day, we walked back to the boat, packed up, and slept.

I was kind of disappointed because it seemed like I didn’t get to do or see much in Amsterdam other than coffeeshops and one museum. But, I did get my ankle checked out, and although the doctor told me what I already basically knew, I was at peace of mind and on the way to improving the situation. Unfortunately I had to waste a day in a beautiful city in order to get to that point, but it had to be done! Overall, Amsterdam was just as crazy as I expected it to be, if not more. The ambiance of the city is absolutely incredible. Although it doesn’t have the charm that Brugge does, it has it’s own way of making everyone smile.

pictures: (1) our view at dinner (2) me and Cedric at the sex museum – classy, I know (3) Jed at the sex museum (4) Amsterdam by night (5) Amsterdam by day (6) me and Cedric before leaving the city

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