Country number four! I must admit, I am slightly devastated that I don’t get my passport stamped every time I enter a different country. Sure, the European agreement that allows this transition between countries does make things easier and quicker, but my inner tourist really just wanted to collect as many stamps as possible on my passport!
Upon arriving to Amsterdam and dumping my luggage, I literally jumped onto the first canal boat tour I found (coincidentally one of the cheaper ones I believe!). The weather was perfect, almost to the point that I was fearing sunburn.
Back in the day, Amsterdam had a housing shortage, resulting in many people turning to living in house boats. Some people still do until this day. Others also live in these small houses that float on the waters edge, as can seen below.
I can’t remember how many canals the tour guide said there was in Amsterdam, but there was a lot, and an even more ridiculous amount of bridges! As the city grew, more canals were constructed to go along with it.
The ‘dancing houses’ of Amsterdam. See those houses on a lean? The land on which the houses have been build was quite wet, so wooden platforms were used to create a drier service. However, due to our old enemy time, the wood is now starting to rot and give way, leading to houses consequently lurching sideways.
See those two tiny windows in between the two bigger houses? Yep, that is the smallest house in Amsterdam! I’m not sure if the tour guide was joking or not, but he said it was currently occupied by a student and their single bed…
The bikes! Everyone rides a bike! This is a poor quality photo of a huge bike parking complex near the train station. Besides this, every conceivable hand rail and sign post had a bike attached to it.
By streets, I really mean I walked through the Red Light District. I had heard varying stories about the area (see: watched Eurotrip), but my Lonely Planet guide had convinced me that it was a safe area. Seeing as it was still light, I thought I could brave it out by myself. It was almost laughable how sleazy it was, with sex toy shops, a ‘condomerie’ and numerous shops selling weed. I innocently cut down an alleyway to make my way back towards to the city centre and came across the sex workers on display in windows. I decided to bail before the feminist in me could start forming any over-analytical opinions on the area.
Eventually it was time for me to try and find my way out to a suburb to check in with my airbnb host. However, as luck would have it I caught a train that went straight past my station and proceeded to travel through the country side for twenty minutes. I somehow managed to hold myself together (though flying past my station did have me on the verge of tears) and navigate my way back into the city. Well, at least I got a nice view of the country side!
Today, I’ll hopefully partake in a few tours and ride a bike around the canals!
PS: My article on how to apply for exchange at UniMelb is now up on Unimelb Adventures! Thanks Daph for letting me contribute to your wonderful blog again!