From London, I, Tati and Tami followed on a bus that left us in Ghent, Belgium. We spent a few hours there visiting the beautiful town until it was the time for next transportation to Amsterdam. We were on the other side of town when we realized that the supposed urban bus that would take us to the very distant Megabus stop did not work during the school holidays, which was the moment! At least that’s what I deduced from the Dutch board on the bus stop, after waiting minutes in vain. As there were no taxis there, we ran with the backpackers on. If everything happened well we would arrive at the place due just on time, but unfortunately that was not what happened. The shortcut we took was over a highway, but to our misfortune, the traffic jam on the site attracted a police car; when they saw us they had us return, as it was forbidden pedestrian traffic on that way. I tried to argue vainly. The result was that we lost the bus and had to buy a train ticket considerably more expensive than the 1 pound I had paid before!
With blisters on our feet we arrived at night at the Amsterdam Centraal station. Our face must have been very deplorable, to the point where the conductor of the tram did not charge our ticket to arrive at the hostel Hans Brinker, the only one with an acceptable price for that night (currently 22.5 euros). We just sipped a cider in the hostel’s bar before going to bed.
The breakfast there had enough sustenance, the problem was the long queue to be served. At least I did wait for the last hour, when the queue doubled in size.
We take the morning to stroll among the many urban canals of the center…
…And the shops, where flower and porcelain abounded among the souvenirs.
In a supermarket hidden underground we bought packages of stroopwafel, the Dutch waffle which, unlike the Belgian, is made up of 2 thin circles of dough stuffed with caramel syrup. Such a delight!
After getting lost trying to find a way to get to the other side of the main canal, which has no bridges, but tunnels and ferries, we arrived at the most different lodging I’ve ever stayed in, a boat! The small one docked at the canal of Noorderpark was booked through Airbnb, at the cost of about 50 euros for a night.
Together, we were left with 3 bicycles for us. That is, if it is possible to call the old stuff that we rented, whose brakes were triggered by the retrograde movement of the pedals. Who the hell has been braking the bike with their feet for the last 40 years ?
Learning to ride and to orient ourselves on the bike paths, which is not easy at first sight, we continue to explore the surroundings of the park. At the edge of the main channel stand out the contemporary wind turbines. It is amazing how close we could get, even touching them and taking selfies.
Then we headed towards the wind mills, the wind turbines of the past. On the way, we even saw an artificial beach full of people. This and more are in the recreational and natural Het Twiske area, protected by the Natura 2000 network.
Since after half an hour of pedaling we had not arrived yet, the girls decided to return. It was a shame, as five minutes later I reached a bucolic zone and passed by the first beautiful example, still functioning in the task of moving the water.
I continued on the omnipresent bicycle paths until I reached the village of Zaanse Schans, in the municipality of Zaandam. There are Dutch-related buildings of the past centuries, such as a wooden shoe factory. But the main attraction is the agglomeration along a canal by several restored and operative wind mills from the 17th century onwards that can be visited. Among the main ones, together in the following image, are the denominated Het Jonge Schaap, Oliemolen de Zoeker, Verfmolen De Kat and Gekroonde Poelenburg.
Beside this pleasant and quiet environment, there is a flooded area where I recorded the fight of two damselflies (Zygoptera), which I later perceived to be a wild sex.
The sun was already setting, so I went back to Amsterdam. I boarded my bike on the free ferry that runs all the way to the other side of the canal amidst a mess of boats. I believed it would stop at the central station just in front, but it changed direction and headed far east!
Unaware that there was more than one route, I stopped a few miles beyond my destination. Luckily I had my vehicle to get back. On arriving, I parked it in the free bike rack, hoping to find it among so many others on the way back. Notice that the vast majority have the same retro style as mine.
No experience in Amsterdam is complete without visiting the famous and controversial Red Light District, where activities illicit in almost the whole world are allowed here. First, the coffeeshops. To support my opinion, I went through two. Actually, I did not like the environments, because I found them smelly, dark and, to my disappointment, they did not play reggae. Marijuana variants are sold inside. Heavier drugs are forbidden, and mushrooms have been on this group since 2008. However, in so-called smartshops you can find truffles, which are said to have a similar effect.
I tasted the space (weed) cake. As in the first coffeeshop, a chocolate muffin, practically had no effect, on the second I tried one that looked like a slice of bread, also with chocolate. The packaging stated that you should consume just one per person – almost 2 hours later I found out why. Things started to look funny for no reason, the floor stirred and people spoke Portuguese. I was almost on another dimension.
Since I wanted to see the part where the shamelessly girls showed their bodies in the shop windows, there we went. In my state of mind, I could only see dolls with robotic movements. I did not take photos, as it is prohibited. Want to dig deeper into this question while spending little money? Take a trip to Red Light Secrets, the museum of prostitution, which lies around and costs 7.5 euros to enter.
The return to the boat where we would sleep was also complicated, since the ferry had just stopped operating, due to the late time. Thank God I was with the girls to guide me.
The next day, still affected, we went to Brussels for one euro. To avoid losing the transport again, we arrived early to Megabus stop, which was not in Amsterdam downtown.