Passing over the border, our next destination had us on another six hour train journey. The carriage wasn’t quite as busy as Stuttgart to Berlin, and the early journey across Berlin had made me incredibly grateful to sit down in my seat.
The second episode of Altered Carbon had just finished when we pulled up in Amsterdam’s Central Station. A crisp, sunny afternoon greeted us; this weather would become the norm in our travels with only a few exceptions. Our hostel was a fair distance from the main station, so it was necessary to buy a metro pass as soon as possible. This time around, we picked up 48 hour passes for just 12.50 euro each. Very good value and this would cover us until we left. Fantastic.
My favourite hostel of the whole trip was our place in Amsterdam. It was built up of coloured two story buildings which surrounded a relatively large square. It had a classic youth hostel feel, and the host who welcomed us in couldn't have been nicer. We may have been far out from the centre; however, there was a Metro station on our doorstep. Being away from the centre of a city is not always an issue—here it was, in fact, better. We had the best of both worlds in the sense that we had a cheaper place to stay and yet the distance wasn't an issue thanks to the subway. The hostel itself was very affordable, with large rooms and an expansive kitchen, perfect for a few days stay. Although we weren’t there for the hotel experience, and with that it was back on the Metro to the city centre. We made our way to the main square, Dam square, and I noted just how amazing all the little streets and paths zig zagged out across the city.
These two days in Amsterdam allowed for the chance to catch up with an old friend and a native to the city. Wessel showed us around the Leidseplein, a square which is well known for its bars and restaurants. It was fantastic to see him as I enjoyed a Heineken around the corner from where it gets brewed. Without a doubt, it tasted better than back in England, but that wasn’t much of a surprise. Having someone who knows the city like the back of their hand did have lots of advantages, but knowing the best places to drink was one that ranked fairly high for me. This beer helped to wash down a pizza, which we grabbed in one of the city's many restaurants. It was thanks to this local knowledge that we could find a top quality place to eat in an area not dominated by tourists. We both felt pretty lucky, in this sense.
The following day took us once more deep into the heart of the city; a gloomy day; a steady drizzle accompanied the walk over countless bridges and past the house of Anne Frank. This was a Monday morning in February and regardless of the poor weather and time of year, the city was buzzing with tourists round every corner. Even once the day drew to a close, the humble city flickered with life. The streetlights reflecting on the waters of Amsterdam’s many canals make for some fantastic pictures as we made our way for dinner with a friend who was also on placement in Stuttgart, it will always be a pleasure.
Perhaps the most famous attraction in Amsterdam is the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign. The letters are two metres tall, the slogan is around 23 metres wide, and a picture in front of it just felt like the ideal way to end our stay in the Netherlands. Next up, our journey west would take us over the border into Belgium, and firstly, Brussels.