Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Adventures in Amsterdam - July 2013

If there's a trip throughout my business trip during summer which was totally unplanned and scary, it has got to be my 2 day trip to Amsterdam.
A colleague and I have earlier discussed that we might find a weekend to meet up in Amsterdam since we both have not been there before and thought it'd be nice to have at least someone we know in a foreign land.
One evening after work, I was desperately in need of a weekend getaway and thought of the discussion I had with my colleague.
Little did I know, that fellow had already booked his flight to Amsterdam that weekend and lucky me, I found a rather fit-my-weekend-allowance flight to Amsterdam that exact weekend and off we go!

It was my first time flying with British Airways and gosh, it was almost a nightmare! The flight was delayed for hours and passengers were stranded at the airport not knowing when we can board our flights.
By the time I reached Rotterdam Airport, it was already 9pm on a Friday.


First sight of Rotterdam Airport.

Travelling solo is definitely NOT EASY! Worse is when you're in a country where the people speak English, but not the signboards! Please allow me a few seconds to pat myself on the back for being a such a brave girl..........Ok moving on...
From Rotterdam Airport, I took a bus to Centraal Station where it took me about 45 minutes to reach. Centraal Station is like our KL Sentral Station, kinda self-explanatory, isn't it.
Not knowing where to head upon alighting from the bus, I just followed the crowd as it seemed a little too quiet to wander alone at 10 plus in the evening at the station.





Some interesting artwork. Those heads actually serve as a service counter in the day. They have an opening on the upper side of the face.

The Centraal Station was where my nightmare started. I did my research beforehand on my route from Rotterdam Airport --> Centraal Station --> Amsterdam Centraal.
Everything went well until when I was at Centraal Station, I couldn't find the Information Counter and at 10 plus, I didn't really hope that any counter is still open. So I walked towards the self-service ticketing machine to buy a train ticket but I can't freaking understand nor read Dutch!
Lucky for me, I decided to approach a couple who was buying their tickets as well and they directed me to the Information Counter. They were even willing to wait for me to check whether the counter was open before leaving me. THANK GOD it was opened!
Gave them a thumbs up and thanked them profusely. :D

BUT.........my nightmare didn't stop there. After buying the train ticket, I was told to go to a numbered platform but since I was in a panic state (because the train was going to leave in few minutes), I sort of forgot :( what the lady at the counter told me...
Not knowing how the train system works (I only know what to take and where to go), I went with my guts to Platform X and decided to ask a dude standing nearby if the train was heading to Amsterdam.
He said, "No, this is going to somewhere else. You might wanna go to Platform Y instead." So I off I ran down again and up to Platform Y.
Reached Platform Y, darn it, I thought. I can't read Dutch (again)!! I don't freaking understand what it says besides the word Amsterdam and a few numbers that look like hour and minutes. Gahh!! Feeling hopeless, I sat down at the staircase thinking what should I do, what should I do!! Mind you, I was lost and worried because it's getting late and I have no idea how safe the place is.

So I saw this lady who was also sitting by the stairs and decided to ask her. She's like my Amsterdam Angel! I told her my mishaps and she brought me down to check the arrival boards. Then suddenly she said, "Oh the next train is leaving in a few minutes. I'd run if I were you." I thanked her hurriedly and ran for my life to catch the train. When I reached, I look at the closed doors, I was like, "FUCK!! I can't find the button to open the door!" (Pardon my language but those words were really in my head because I was desperate!)
And the train left. *imagine the look on my face*
It was 11.30pm on a Friday night then.

For those of you who don't know, trains in countries with cold seasons have a button near the door for you to press open the door when you need it so that heat can be trapped in the train.

Feeling disappointed, I looked at the board again and it says Amsterdam at 11.50pm. Sigh. Now I can read the signs already. So I sat and waited for the train to arrive.
It took around an hour plus to reach Amsterdam Centraal from the Centraal Station and by the time I reached Amsterdam Centraal, it was a freaking 1am on a Saturday.

Quite a captivating sight at Amsterdam Centraal.

Ok so it sounds as if my nightmare has ended. But NO!! Upon reaching Amsterdam Centraal, I tried to find my way out of the station because some exits were closed. I approached a Security there and he was also directing everyone else to another exit. Exiting is not the difficult part, what's difficult is not knowing how to get to the hotel because the tram service has stopped.
Again, I had an internal monologue. "Should I hail a cab to the hotel?", "Should I just walk since it's not that far away? But it might be dangerous since it's so late.", "How do I know where this bus is heading to?"
All sorts of questions running through my small brain.

Guess which one I ended up with? I chose to walk because although it's late, I can still see that there were quite a number of people around and I have more confidence to walk to the hotel from Amsterdam Centraal than to take the bus and get lost if the bus doesn't head to where I wanted to go to.


Nocturnals in Amsterdam.

De Bijenkorf Shopping Mall



Met up with my colleague in the morning and off we went for breakfast!


A little sight seeing in Amsterdam.





Shopping street in Amsterdam..all sorts of brands and they have H&M at every corner of the row of shop lots I'm not even kidding!



Street act at Dam Square

The empty space in front of Madame Tussaud.



In front of Magna Plaza, the type of shopping mall that interests me because of the exterior. 

Hop on their famous tram!

If there's a tip I can give you while in Amsterdam, it's gotta be that you don't really* need to pay for your tram ticket. (* only if you think you might be lucky enough) Both my colleague and I didn't know where to get the ticket or how to pay for the ticket so we couldn't be bothered much but just hop on to the tram.
Lucky for us, no one checked our (non-existing) tickets! *phew.


Taken from inside the tram.



Lunch overlooking a small street. 

Lunch was a quiant restaurant - Haesje Claes which serves traditional Dutch cuisines and apparently it's in the Michelin's list of best restaurants in Amsterdam!


Looks rather small from the outside but inside it's quite spacious.


Mussels is a must have dish in Amsterdam!
This is a local dish which I have forgotten its name. The big brown thing is pork if I'm not mistaken.

After lunch, we were on a desperate mission to find the "I amsterdam" letters because you haven't been to Amsterdam if you don't visit at least one of the locations where the letters are at!

These letters are placed at several spots in Amsterdam. Both my colleague and I was almost lost while searching for it but just go with your guts (or go where everyone else is going) and you can easily spot them.

The one I went to was at Museumplein, smack right in front of the Rijks Museum.


How could I forget about the famous "I amsterdam" letters!

Rijks Museum.

Next, we went to Hard Rock Cafe which was just a walking distance from the Rijks Museum. I never knew Hard Rock Cafe was such a hit until my colleague insisted that he has gotta visit the cafe no matter what. *shift eyes*





Having a drink at Hard Rock Cafe.
One of the many things Amsterdam is famous for (besides weed being legal in the country) is the canal!
Lots and lots of canals along the streets of Amsterdam and I can assure you that you can never get bored of seeing them...although I can hardly tell them apart because all of them look the same!
Nonetheless, what captivates me is the scenic view at the canals with all the pretty little flowers along them. :)


Me with the lovely backdrop of a canal in Amsterdam.




Besides the "I amsterdam" letters, Amsterdam is also famous for its Red Light District. Go google it if you have no idea what I'm saying because I was a bit scared to snap any photo and risk myself being in difficult situation. :-/
It was a really interesting sight to see the district at night..although I've seen clips of how the girls got there (not sure how true it is) so I'll just leave it to your own judgment.

If there's another thing I like about Amsterdam, it's gotta be the buildings! I like every single building has its own unique design, you can hardly find the same ones!


The lovely buildings near Amsterdam Centraal.

Bidding goodbye to my colleague, I took a deep breath of everything that has happened here in just 2 days.
I begin to think that I have not gotten enough of Amsterdam. I need to go back there again.


The signature windmill in Netherlands.



Rotterdam Airport in the day.

Oh did I mention, Dutch are quite good looking people. The moment I reached the immigration at Rotterdam, I was already blown away by how handsome the officer is. :P


Last meal before boarding BA back to London.

A little advise if you're planning to visit Amsterdam:
- Get a flight ticket to Schiphol Airport instead of Rotterdam Airport. Schiphol Airport is nearer to Amsterdam.
- Beware of the traffic! A lot of people tend to cycle there so you'll most probably get hit by a cyclist than the tram.

Till then,



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