Friday, June 14, 2013

On my own in Amsterdam

We've been on a lot of family trips recently, but I also wanted to do a trip all by myself.  What with cheap fares on Easyjet to Amsterdam, and my 50% work schedule, it wasn't hard to arrange.  I packed super light, so that I wouldn't have to go to my hostel (yes, I stayed at a youth hostel, more on that later) to drop off my things before going sightseeing.  I basically carried everything with me all the time.  It turned out to not be a problem at all - I have a thing for ultralight travel and lightening my load was a fun exercise.

On Monday, I arrived around 9 AM after cutting it WAY too close with the flight (I missed one of my buses, and then the security line was very long).  I went straight to the Rijksmuseum, the biggest and most popular one in Amsterdam, and then just strolled around town.  I went through the red light district, but there wasn't much going on - it was only about 5 in the afternoon.  I thought there was nothing going on, just a bunch of windows with curtains on them and red lights over them, but I was wrong - I did see one lady in a window.

In the evening I attended a Quantified Self meetup.  It was interesting - all the talks, etc, were in English, although with a few exceptions all the people attending were Dutch.  Also it was less...rigorous, less scientific than I thought it would be.  I would have liked to stay longer except that I was really tired from getting up so early to catch my flight, so I bailed early, and went to the youth hostel.  The youth hostel was totally fine, except that I was sharing a room with 5 other ladies.  One of these ladies must have been passed out or something, because her phone alarm went off at 6 in the morning.  She didn't even wake up.  Another woman tried to turn it off, but just hit the snooze button.  This happened 2 more times at 10 minute intervals.  Finally I asked the woman that was hitting the snooze button to hand it to me, was able to turn it off completely, and got a few hours more rest.  A good thing, too, because I was about to toss it out the window.

I ended up chatting Tuesday morning with 2 American women who were studying violin in Manchester (apparently it's cheaper there, though they still quoted costs of somewhere around 20K USD a year, just for tuition - seems very high!).

Then I took a tram straight to a bike rental place close to the train station.  I soon had my 1 speed, back-pedal for brakes bike, and took the ferry north of Amsterdam.  It was a gorgeous day.

The bike was fairly comfortable - the seat was actually more comfortable than mine - but after using it, I now appreciate bikes with gears and hand brakes much more.

Here's a few pictures from my ride

Very flat, but the wind can make it difficult 

In the town of Holysloot
After my bike ride, I had coffee and cake in the restaurant on the top floor of the Amsterdam library.  It has a really nice balcony with a great view of Amsterdam.  Very pleasant to sit there after a long bike ride!

My flight back to Geneva was late in the evening, around 9, so I got to the airport with plenty of time.  There wasn't a soul at the security line - great, I think to myself.  Not really - they exercised all their equipment on me, including the full body scan device, and then totally picked apart my tiny backpack.

Overall  a great trip, especially the bike ride.

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