I am a little behind schedule on posting about the spring trips, but I can come up with a lot of excuses. As I had mentioned on my last post, I, along with my boyfriend and flatmate enjoyed a three day break during Easter in the Netherlands. Our main purpose was to visit Amsterdam, but we spent two days and a night in a village about 1 hour away from Amsterdam and loved it!
We used KLM to fly from Warsaw to Schipol in Amsterdam. On the first evening, we were met by a sweet friend from Poland, Ania, who lives in Belgium, and her boyfriend. They drove about 2-3 hours from Antwerp in Belgium to Amsterdam to see us. We met at around 5 in the evening, and made plans to drink beer. Finding a pub was not so easy, as the places around the center were absolutely crowded and we walked a good deal among Amsterdam’s identical canal districts before we finally came across a pub in a quietish area. There was a lot of catching up to do with Ania, and I didn’t mind the walk, especially since it was my first evening in Amsterdam. Nothing about Amsterdam had surprised me until then, it’s the kind of place that everybody goes to and you hear a lot about, so I guess I saw exactly what I had pictured in my mind before eventually going there.
We drank some good beers at the pub and spent a pleasant evening. By the time we departed with Ania and her boyfriend, it was time for us to figure a way to get to the village where we had booked our stay. While going back, we all passed through the famous red light district of the city with mostly empty windows (due to Easter break?). All I can say was that it was very crowded. Not exactly something that to me looked like a world attraction, but something amusing, nevertheless. There were all sorts of things in the district, the usual windows with prostitutes(ALL kinds imaginable including men dressed as women), erotic clubs with live shows and shops selling all kinds of sex goodies. We passed through it and got to the railway station, took help from the person there to get directions to Bergen and were on train shortly after. Things that had made an impression on me until then were how well the Dutch people spoke English (to be honest I didn’t really need to go to Amsterdam to know that..) and how absolutely crowded the city was.
Our train stop was at a town called Alkmaar, from where we were to take bus to Bergen. Alkmaar is a small town, most known for their seasonal traditional cheese market. We missed it by a couple of weeks when we were there. Anyway, we took a bus to Bergen, and got off in a ridiculously cute and small village Bergen, where we spent a wonderful full day biking and exploring the village and surroundings. It was time to spend one last day in Amsterdam before we boarded our flight back to Poland.
I had initially planned to see some major attractions of the city, but we sort of ditched the plan and decided to just explore the city on foot with no particular destination in mind. I often do that when I am in a new city, I like walking for no other purpose than exploring and watching the local life go by. We went to the usual canal districts, starting from the chilly morning, shopped for some souvenirs and walked. We also came across an interesting China town where I bought a few Korean noodles at a big Asian grocery store. I miss such kind of thing so very much in Lodz, where I live. We had planned to go to one of the coffee shops but we ended up leaving it and doing it some other way as I didn’t like the vibe of that particular coffee shop we had entered. What can you say when you’re under the influence of certain thing famous that Amsterdam is worldwide known for. We had great Dutch fries, beers and explored and saw the city from a different mental perspective.
All in all, I wasn’t a big fan of Amsterdam. It was just a normal European city to me, save for few specialties. There’s no doubt that Amsterdam is beautiful, especially due to the canals and striking architecture, but to me it was simply too overrun by tourists to enjoy it.What I liked the most about the whole trip was the countryside outside Amsterdam. Bergen and Alkmaar, to be precise. It was so different from hectic Amsterdam and we had some fine, relaxed days there. I am starting to prefer visiting less-crowded places around nature much more than big cities.