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Posts Tagged ‘amsterdam’

This is only one of the many messages spraypainted on walls, campers, vehicles, trains and in fact every graffiti-able surface.  That’s one thing I’ve noticed about the Netherlands, and not just Amsterdam: they graffiti absolutely everything.  Not bad graffiti either, but some really fantastic arty stuff.  Still not sure how into it I am.

This is my third day in Amsterdam.  This is a crazy city.  It’s everything I could have hoped and dreamed of and more.  I ended up staying in Stayokay Vondelpark, a YHI hostel situated outside the city center.  It’s nice, but too expensive to stay here much longer.  At least their free breakfast is awesome.  Every morning I load up on three varieties of toast, raisin buns, banana bread, cereal, juice, tea/coffee/espresso, boiled eggs, cheese, and salami (ok, not the salami, the edges get all crinkly and it’s kind of weird) to justify what I’m spending to sleep in a twenty bed dorm that is,after all, a tram ride away from the city center.  Of course it is directly across the street from Vondelpark, an awesome park you could wander in for hours itself. 

Amsterdam is cleaner, prettier, bigger, and far less wholesome than I imagined.  The red light district is amusing although I have yet to get a signature from a hooker!  Sorry, Torre.  The coffeeshops are everywhere.  You’ll be on a cobbled lane lined with Yves Saint Laurent and D&G shops and you’ll round the corner and meet a rasta-themed coffeeshop.  Or a residential district.  Or a ferris wheel and a booming midway.  Or a pack of stray cats.  Or, more likely, a gang of ruthless bicyclers trying to mow you down.  Or a scenic canal lined with 16th century houses leaning prettily forward at different angles to their neighbors.

I vaidated my Eurail pass and took a day trip to Delft today, the home of 17th century painter Johannes Vermeer.  I paid 6 euro to do the Vermeer experience, which was worth it if you like the painter (I do.) 

Delft is like Amsterdam but tiny, older(feeling), and without the red light district and coffeeshops.  I take that back.  I did see one coffeeshop, and it looked pretty busy.  Most of Delft seemed to be either shoestores or stores selling Delftware, that blue-and-white porcelain the town is traditionally famous for.

Tomorrow I don’t know whether I’ll move to a different hostel and spend another night in Amsterdam, or move for a few nights out to Den Haag, only a few minutes away by train from Amsterdam and supposedly another great town, as well as the home of a large collection of Dutch Renaissance paintings and a bunch of Vermeer’s work.  There is so much to see in Amsterdam, I don’t want to leave,but I can’t afford to buy anything including food.  I haven’t found a bottle of water to be found for under 2 euro, and that for a tiny one.  A bowl of soup–at your cheaper establshment–runs 5.50, about 8 USD.  I did find a bakery “bakerij” that sells these enormous vegetarian pizza things for only 3.50, so I’ve been living off of them.  They’re actually pretty tasty.  I’m doing that because my hostel does not, of course, have a kitchen and I haven’t been able to find a supermarket to buy my own food anyways. 

Amsterdam is awesome.  They have a tram that goes right from where I’m staying into the city center.  It’s easy to use, I just bought a strippenkaart of fourteen rides when I got here and I’ve been using that.  Actually, it’s going to be hard to use up all my rides before I leave.  Hmmmm, perhaps I will just have to stay longer?

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