20 May 2010

Europe - Amsterdam (Part I)

Our day of adventure had begun! On Fri night I stayed in 1 of my colleague's apartment room, as I have no more room for that night (the original schedule was for me to go back SG on Fri night). So Saturday morning, we woke up super early and reached the train station at 6:45 am. Our train to Amsterdam is at 7:26 am. Since we still have some time, we had a breakfast in one of the bakery in the train station. German people certainly like sweet things very much, as everywhere I can see people selling cakes & other sweet snacks.

[caption id="attachment_1256" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Guten Appetit!"]Guten Appetit![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1257" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Duisburg Train Station"]Duisburg Train Station[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1258" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Ready to go!"]Ready to go![/caption]

It was a 2 hour train journey to Amsterdam. Uhm let me tell you first that getting on to the train itself and getting down from it is no kidding, especially if you have a heavy luggage! Since the luggage I brought to Europe was quite small (the smallest of all of my colleague's luggage, btw), so... it was not enough to carry all the food (and souvenirs) I bought at Duisburg! In the end, I need to buy a travel bag... Hahaha.. So the bags I need to drag and carry everywhere includes 1 laptop bag, 1 travel bag, and 1 luggage.. phew.. Believe me that it's tough! Especially with my luggage wheel spoiling soon.. Hmm.. I should've bought a bigger luggage ya.. not a travel bag.. so can replace my old luggage with a new one (with good-working wheel)!

Anyway... from the train we can see some windmills.. We were so excited to see them! Going to Holland of course must see windmills, right? ;)  The train passed thru many fields (some with yellow flowers planted in the whole fields. So you can see a big yellow field. It was awesome!) And the fields also have cows, horses, etc..

[caption id="attachment_1259" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="We're in Amsterdam!!"]We're in Amsterdam!![/caption]

We reached Amsterdam about 9:30 am. As planned, we went to the luggage lockers to store our luggage.....

[caption id="attachment_1260" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Luggage locker @ Amsterdam"]Luggage locker @ Amsterdam[/caption]

...And... we were like 3 dumb people there! We didn't know how to use the lockers!! Hmm.. mainly coz it's all in Dutch.. Tsk tsk tsk.. they should've put an instruction in English, don't you think? So after many many trial and errors and desperate laughters, we finally can use the lockers! Here's how:

  1. Put your luggages in 1 of empty lockers, and close it

  2. Go to the nearest machine, and it will specify that you've closed locker "xx" and have how many seconds to make payments before the locker will be reopened.

  3. Select method of payment (for our case, it's always credit card)

  4. Insert the credit card

  5. Remove the card <This is the step that we didn't know that we must do! We thought that we need to wait for some approval or something>

  6. Press OK

  7. Voila! The locker is locked and we get a small ticket to open it.

Afterwards, we went out of the train station to look for Tourist Information Center. Luckily it's just opposite of the station, the person there give us a map and direct us to another place to purchase (and board) tickets for tourist bus and canal tour. And.... we kinda get lost trying to find that place! Gosh, the road in Amsterdam is kinda confusing and messy. But on the way, we can see some nice buildings, and Amsterdam Centraal train station is an awesome building itself! The photo doesn't do it justice. The real one is much nicer! I felt like I was teleported to a far-far away place. The buildings in Amsterdam is just magnificent!

[caption id="attachment_1262" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Pretty buildings"]Pretty buildings[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1261" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Amsterdam Train Station"]Amsterdam Train Station[/caption]

After asking around, we found the place meant by tourist information officer. We purchased the tourist bus & canal tour at 19 euros/person. Not bad... And btw, the person told us that the bus is going in about 20 mins time. But that's such a lie.. We waited inside the bus for at least 30-40 mins... Tsk tsk.. such a waste of time! The bus is quite unique.. it's a classic red-school-bus convertible with glass roof. And the guide was using GPS system with earphone.

[caption id="attachment_1263" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="3 tourists!"]3 tourists![/caption]

The bus goes thru many very nice buildings. It looks like those I saw in the movie! 4-storeys houses that's narrow and standing next to each other, all in classical-old type of building that's very nice... I love it! It's just feel sooo homey..  I can imagine those British movies that often shows this kind of narrow houses standing next to each other.. And the movie star stays in 1 of those building.. LOL..

[caption id="attachment_1264" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Narrow houses in Amsterdam"]Narrow houses in Amsterdam[/caption]

And BTW, an interesting fact that we just got to know. In Amsterdam, it's common for the houses (that's narrow) to have very narrow door. So when moving house, the furniture can't get in/out of the door. So normally they'll move the furniture from the window! Haha!

Oh oh.. the bus also pass by a windmill (that's used as a restaurant now)! We were so happy to see it.. Too bad the bus doesn't stop there so we can't take photo with the windmill. The bus only stops at Gassan diamond factory to have a tour there. We're not interested to go to the diamond factory, so we decided to go on our own around there, and join the tourist bus again at a later time.

[caption id="attachment_1265" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="This is our bus!"]This is our bus![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1266" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Just me.. Beside a canal"]Just me.. Beside a canal[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1267" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Yeah it's me again!"]Yeah it's me again![/caption]

Along the way, we found some house-boat (yeah some ppl actually are living on the boat), and some of them love to plant flowers. I was happy to see a houseboat actually planting tulips! (even though only few stems).. but still.. i get to see the real tulip.. hahaa

[caption id="attachment_1268" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Can you see the tulips?"]Can you see the tulips?[/caption]

We also found a street market called Waterlooplein, and few stalls selling cute Holland souvenirs. So we bought some magnets and mini windmills there.

[caption id="attachment_1269" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Souvenirs @ waterlooplein"]Souvenirs @ waterlooplein[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1270" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Waterlooplein"]Waterlooplein[/caption]

After that, we join back the tourist bus and finish the whole route. Before taking the canal tours, we wanted to go to the town center first, where the town hall, old church, and nice nice buildings are. On the way, I almost got hit by a bike! People there normally ride bikes, they even have a special lane for bicycle. At first I didn't know, as I thought it's a pedestrian way. And the bike riders are not giving way to pedestrians. They didn't even slow down the pace. Tsk tsk tsk.. Crossing the street in Amsterdam is just like in Jakarta. You need to see left and right and left and right.. You can cross anywhere you want, but must be extra careful, coz you can get hit by a bike, a car, a bus, or a trem! The roads are so confusing..

And oh! I almost forget to mention.. there were tonnes of garbage everywhere. And by tonnes, I really mean it a loooooot and eveeerrywhere.. We were quite surprised to see the city so dirty. Not even Jakarta is close to that!!

[caption id="attachment_1271" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Piles of garbage"]Piles of garbage[/caption]

Apparently.. it's because the cleaners were on strike (should be coz of the pay?) haha.. I thought the city is always like that.. If it is, I'd be surprise that tourists still want to go there :p

Wow, this post seems kinda long.. and i'm only half way thru Amsterdam.. LOL... I think it's better to continue it in another post then.. ;) 

- to be continued-


Post a Comment