THE AMSTERDAM DIARY: 1 WEEK
We knew Amsterdam would be fun. How could it not be?
We were four best friends in our early twenties and in a city that promotes hedonism; I’d be lying if I said the week wasn’t a bit of a blur.
My friend and I were arriving by train via Berlin, while my two other friends arrived by plane. As for our hostel, we had a name and no address or internet. In hindsight, it kept the spontaneity alive– but at the expense of my sanity.
The language barrier was real, and that, my friends, is why they tell you to learn a few basic phrases in the local language. We did not learn the basic phrases. Hand signing and a crudely drawn map from a nice sales associate at a train station boutique managed to get us to Hans Brinker Hostel in one piece.
We didn't leave in the same condition.
The first night bender at the hostel left us feeling dried out the next morning, which we quickly remedied by touring through the Heineken Experience in the morning with some new friends. There, two of us (I won't say which two, but you probably can guess whether I'm included) drank enough beer samples to make sure we never looked at Heineken the same way again.
The Heineken Tour will get you this view though, so the descent into crippling alcoholism is probably worth it.
Not that we don't still drink it, we totally do. But it doesn't have that same innocence it once had.
On the drunken meander back to our infamous hostel we were offered pub crawl tickets from a stranger. And, since we were here to make bad choices, we accepted.
I would tell you about our night, but most of it is foggy to say the least. I will say that I woke up missing a phone, a friend, with multiple frantic missed messages and calls, and 5 minutes past checkout.
We did manage to recover our friend, but the phone and confidence of our families back home remained lost.
Our state can be summed up in that fact that one friend wore a sweater, and a pair of souvenir boxers. Bleary eyed and with much too much luggage, we walked to our next hostel instead of cabbing. What can I say, we're cheap.
I'm certain that the family friendly and quiet hostel wasn't impressed by us, but I think they sensed our need for a bed and recovery time so they laughed and showed us to our room.
We of course went out that night as well. I vaguely recall a deal of 10 shots for some cheap price, then not much else. I did end up back at Hans Brinker unfortunately, asking them politely but insistently to let me into my room (that I no longer resided in). So we'll call this one a write off.
Luckily, I got to see the staff again the next day when we returned for the remainder of our stay.
We did make better use of our time by taking a horse drawn carriage, then separating so one friend could drag another to see Madame Tussauds, the wax museum, while the remaining two of us went to the Amsterdam Dungeon. It was such a fun experience to go through, and the actors and sets were impeccable. We enjoyed the stories and the interactivity of it, so if you're in Amsterdam I will always recommend checking it out! And, even though it didn't sound interesting to me, apparently the wax museum was great as well.
Then we went on a pub crawl. Are you sensing a theme yet?
I did go to the Anne Frank House in the morning, but I regret not giving it the respect it deserved by showing up with my wits more about me. Instead I lined up long before it opened (the line is huge), and was hungover for the entirety of the solemn affair.
I hesitate to say we went out again, but we did. I went to bed sober though! No wild Amsterdam pub crawl three out of seven nights for me.
Of course, we souvenir shopped and checked out markets the next day, but our final evening that began at the Ice Bar was sidetracked by Irish and English strangers we met who decided to take my friend (who was leaving the next morning) and I along to the club. The atmosphere and music was entrancing, and we ended up leaving the club at about 6:00am. We did manage to get my friend off in time to make her way back to Canada though. So we're 99% responsible adults. We make good choices.
By day seven, we desperately needed a vacation from our vacation. No amount of alcohol could have kept us going the way we had been going all week. So, as we waited for our respective modes of transport, we wandered to the Amsterdam sign for the first time.
We treated Amsterdam a bit like our playground, and at the end of it I wish I hadn’t missed out on the other things this beautiful city had to offer. Do I regret it? No. Will I have to go back? Definitely. Sans alcohol.
Or maybe just a few less pub crawls.
Do you regret any of your travel mistakes? Share your stories below!