Red Lights, Bike Rides and a Full Amsterdam Recap

Because of my weekend trip to Rome, I only had about 24 hours in Amsterdam.

“You’re crazy! Why would you skip two days in Amsterdam for Rome?”

I know, I know, I’ve heard it all people. But Amsterdam will always be here and we made the most of it.

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When I arrived in Amsterdam, I had to take a tram, sort of like a subway but above ground, to meet Chelsea. She gave me directions but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to buy a ticket. I watched some locals get on before me and some of them didn’t seem to pay so I just got on. I didn’t pay! I couldn’t believe it. I would never do that in New York but it seemed to be OK…? The public transportation in Amsterdam is very easy to use and seems to go everywhere. It was very convenient (minus that whole paying thing).

After reuniting with Chelsea, we walked around Rembrandt Square near we were staying (pst, we splurged on a hotel but don’t tell! Thanks Dad ;-)) and decided that the best way to see it all would be to rent bikes.

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Everyone rides bikes in Amsterdam. There are bikes literally everywhere. Outside of every restaurant there are at least 20 bikes locked up outside. It is the transportation of Amsterdam.

We found a Rent a Bike shop near Dam Square, one of the most popular spots in Amsterdam. It was a Sunday so it was absolutely packed. Trying to bike through the Square to the park where we could roam, I actually thought I was going to die.

The locals bike so fast and they just go on the street with all of the people, trams and cars. The cars drive fast, the people don’t move and there are tram tracks everywhere. Every bicyclist angrily rings their bell to tell you to move out of the freaking way. For someone who hates biking, it was terrifying.

And I almost did die! My front wheel got caught in the tram’s track and the bike flipped, sending me (in a dress I might add) with it. People gasped, whispers about my Americanness spread, my ego was bruised.

Whatever Amsterdam, so I can’t ride a bike! I couldn’t do it at 12 and I definitely can’t do it at 24.

When we finally got to the park, the bike ride was much more enjoyable. Chelsea whipped out her GoPro and we wheeled along, stopping to take some shots of the Iamsterdam sign that is so popular with tourists.

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After the park, we headed to a makeshift park near the train station that an employee at the bike rental shop suggested. It was on the roof of the science museum high above the city so we got a great view.

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There were tons of people hanging out, sunbathing, drinking and kids splashing in little pools. Even though it was about 85 degrees, it was a perfect spot to stop during our ride.

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After returning the bikes, we headed back to the hotel, exhausted. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but Chels and I decided to buy Eurail passes. We can’t figure out how to use the damn things for the life of us. Seriously! If you’ve used one or know someone who has, please email me and explain the damn things to us.

We had to go to the train station to ask more questions about our Eurail passes. We really didn’t want to move but we need to figure these things out. So back to Centraal Station we went. We waited for about 45 minutes until it was finally our turn.

The train station employee informed us that we literally just get on a train. He said if we want to make reservations for overnight trains or busier high speed trains, we can only do it in that country or online. If we make reservations online, we can print out the tickets at an Internet Cafe. This is exactly the opposite of what the website says. So defeated and still confused, we left the station. We’re never going to figure out how to use these things and we’ve finally accepted that.

Does one go to Amsterdam and not check out the Red Light district? I know we’re two young American girls alone but we had to go see what it was all about.

If you haven’t seen it for yourself, it’s an experience. I think it’s more touristy now than it probably once was but I couldn’t handle it. I felt so uncomfortable. Women in literally their underwear stand in front of lit up windows and motion to the men to come up to them. You’re not allowed to take photos of them and you’re not supposed to talk to them unless you’re serious about buying. They don’t want you to waste their time.

We saw a lot of men coming out of the doorways, especially after midnight. We also saw lots of negotiating. We saw one couple negotiating with a woman for a threesome. Fifty Euro for one person, 100 for two. Yeah. I was so uncomfortable.

Chelsea was completely obsessed with the Red Light district. She had so many questions about the girls’ families, home lives, what they do during the day, etc. She also said she wanted to buy a woman for an hour and just ask her questions. While I was covering my eyes, Chels was getting more and more curious.

We headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep in our plush hotel room. Yeah, we definitely need to splurge every once in awhile on good accommodations. We really struggle to go so quickly from place to place on zero sleep. We’re the worst backpackers.

The next morning we laid around for awhile enjoying the cleanliness while we still could. We grabbed coffee for breakfast and packed up our backpacks. There was an 11:01 train to Berlin and of course we arrived at the station at 11:00 and missed it. Are you surprised? We seriously cannot catch a break. We are last minute Sallys. And we suck at learning lessons.

So we ended up having to wait in the train station for the 1:01 p.m. train. We’ve started calling this trip the Tour de Train Stations because all we do is hang out in stations.

After a six hour train ride and about an hour transfer to our hostel, we have finally arrived in Berlin. Let’s see what this city has in store for us.

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