So that's how you Spell humus in Dutch

Actually, I was surprised that it was 'houmous', which is much simpler than most Dutch words.  More on that later...

Day 1 of Amsterdam is a bit of a blur haha.  I spent the rest of the day just exploring the town, getting to know the area.  My hostel is a nice place.  Of course, like most other hostels in central Amsterdam, it's basically a bar/club with beds on the top, but what else would you expect?  I remember hesitating to book a place like this because it's not really my style, but I figured hell, what a better way to force myself to be in the thick of it?  Well, it's worked so far.  Last night I went out on my first pub crawl in Europe.  It was pretty fun, not too intense.  Getting a bunch of shots and beers for €15 was not bad.  Not to mention it was also the Red Light crawl, so I got my fill of the Red Light District (my hostel happens to be right next to it too lol).  I must say, it's quite a site.  Of course I couldn't take any pics, but if you ever make it out here you'll have to check it out.  All the guidebooks say don't take pics, but I think my crawl guide did the best just explaining why:

"They have a bottle of piss and they'll open their window and throw it at you if you try taking a picture."

MAN, and I thought they just yelled at you.

The crawl folks were all really cool, covering everywhere from the US to England to Germany to Australia.  It was only about 15 people, which was nice.  I guess their other crawl normally pulls in 100 people, with a record of 800.  Damn, that's a little too much for me lol.  Now I'm not the biggest drinker, but in Europe I figure I have to do my fill.  I lasted the whole night, including the beer contest and the club.  Of course I didn't win the free beer (that went to Mark the Aussie :-P), but at least I got a free shirt!  It was cool to meet everyone (whom I can't quite remember exactly lol).  Michelle was really funny.  She's from LA, so we got in a sarcastic NorCal/SoCal tiff, which totally confused all the others.  It was funny translating it for them though (of which they said that it sounds stupid, which I'd agree with :-P).

After the club (which is right under my room), I stumbled back into my room, somehow took a shower b/c it'd been a few days, and then I instantly passed out in my bunk.  I totally made way too much noise (sorry roomies!), but I was way out of it.  That's probably the first night I got a full night's sleep in Europe.  And I was drunk, sitting above a club blaring music lol.  Oh yea, that's another thing, the music at the club was very...interesting?  I was expecting techno, which I love, but I would say this stuff was more under the category of "Stuff Stoners can Dance To".  Basically, it was a bunch of slow, random beats; just enough to keep all those people who were high moving back and forth.  Whatever, I had a fun time trying to figure it out.
Pub crawls are definitely a key way to meet people when backpacking on your own.  Even though I'm not a huge drinker, I just figure I'll go to them in towns were they seem like they're popular.  I wouldn't say I recommend this one just because it was small and kinda boring, but it was Sunday, and it is everyday, so that's cool.

So today, I'm sitting in my room writing this at 9 p.m.  This is probably the first time I've been in to relax and settle down for the first time on this trip before 12 a.m. lol.  Usually I write my blog real quick in-between stuff.  Amsterdam's been very chill so far, so going with that theme, I'm taking a night off.  I know, I know, what the hell is wrong with me?  Well, the lack of sleep and this random cold I got are wearing on me a smidgen, so I figured I should recharge one night.  I feel a little bad that I'm not out getting totally destroyed every night, but I figured that I'm going to do as many nights out as I feel that I can handle.  Plus, I think it might be good to take a break and rest up once and a while just so I can keep moving lol.

In terms of meeting people, this hostel's a little tough (as people had mentioned), because it IS a bar; there's no kitchen or common area to really talk without getting a beer or smoking a j.  I mean, I've mingled with the other people a few times, sitting down at random tables, although most people seemed to be together or in groups, but I'm doing my best lol.  Most of the other places on my trip are actually reviewed to be good for single backpackers meeting people, so that's going to be fun.  I met a cool guy from England and two girls, Piter and whats-her-name (I'm really bad with names first time around).  Piter just happens to be a bar tender, so it was fun talking to her and listening to all their stories.  Other than that, my two roomies who were continuously stoned and drunk were pretty cool, although I'm not too sure if they knew what they said to me half the time lol.  It's been interesting meeting random people; I think the trains will be a lot of fun too!

Alright, so what about today?  Well let's see...

  • Woke up pretty late and eventually got out of the hostel around 11 a.m. (so much nicer than the rush in London lol)
  • Did the local thing and got a bike.  You can cover everything in the entire city pretty fast by bike, it's all really close.  Just pay attention to the streets, they curve to follow the canals!  That and the other traffic, which could be bikes, motorcycles, or cars in your lane.  I liked the locks though, which are built in and lock the back wheel, pretty nifty.
  • Checked out a local market and coffee chain to grab a muffin and some juice.
  • Rode to the "I Am Amsterdam" sign by the Rijksmuseum to take some pics.  Went to the Van Gogh Museum after waiting a half hour because they were closed for a evacuation test.  It's a nice, small museum.  I actually read most of the plaques for once and got out in about an hour and a half.  
  • I rode around some more before realizing that I was hungry, so I grabbed a sandwich (more on that later)
  • Dropped off the bike for the day and stopped by the hostel before walking over to the Anne Frank House.  Very touching, I'd recommend seeing it.  They've done a really nice job.
  • Got back and chatted with my new roomies before running out to a grocery store, coming back, and sitting down here to write, listen to iTunes and eat some pita bread and hummus.  Thus the title.

So yea, the sandwich hunt was quite interesting.  I just find being in a place where everything is in a different language so cool.  That's one of the things I like to photograph, common things in other countries (food, signs, etc..) just because they're in another language.  I mean, yes everybody in Amsterdam knows English, but it's still fun to go somewhere and here them speak their local language before they switch to yours.  

Ok, so the sandwich.  I started out at the grocery store to make a picnic.  Amsterdam (like I expected for all of Europe) is pretty pricey.  That, and they don't have as many groceries stores readily available.  That's not stopping me from spending plenty of money on entertainment and sights :-), but I cut a little on food.  That and I'm going to just drink water from now on (mineral or otherwise, I'm in Europe!) since I'll probably be drinking most days.  

Wow, really bad tangent today.  I got a little spooked by all the foreign names and prices of things, so I left and kept searching.  By now it was 3 in the afternoon.  I found a deli full of locals, but it was a little intimidating trying to order when everybody else seemed rushed and was rapidly rattling off their orders in Dutch.  However, I was determined to test my skills at getting something from a non-English speaking place, so I meandered around until I found a small deli with a guy sitting behind the counter.  Bingo.  I walked up and looked at the random assortment behind the counter, pointed at what I wanted and explained as best I could, and got the same giant meatball-looking meat sandwich that everybody at the last place was getting.  Impressed I actually pulled it off, I found a seat in the small deli and sat down, enjoying my sandwich, as well as the prostitute dancing in the window across the street, which I totally missed before lol.

As for tomorrow, I'm doing another "whatever" day.  Might do the Heiniken brewery, the Sex Museum, the Waterlooplein market, who knows.  Some new roomies arrived today and last night, so it was nice to catch up with few of them when I got back tonight.  Nina, who's from Germany, was telling me about her trip through Europe.  Apparently she's also not a crazy party person, so we agreed to do some stuff together tomorrow.  Maybe even try a coffee shop? ;-)  She just went out with two girls who are now in my dorm that I haven't met.  They're heading to the same pub crawl, best of luck guys!  There's also a French pair, who mostly keeps to themselves.  I guess the two stoner guys headed out this morning, so sad b/c I didn't say goodbye :-(

Oh, so I guess I messed up my itinerary.  I have WAY too many days in Amsterdam (more than in London or Paris), so I think it calls for a change, which sounds fun!  I'm trying to figure out places between Amsterdam and Berlin that I could try out for a quick day (suggestions are welcome).  I'm thinking either Brussels or Colonge (on Nina's suggestion). I guess I'll make the call tomorrow after I talk to her.  My next hostel in Berlin's supposed to be pretty small and very close-knit, so I'd just head there for an extra day, but they're full.  Oh well, maybe a bed will open up with them.  Man, why didn't I check before?  I could've added a day to London.  Oh well, now I have the chance to go to a random new place!  I could just try the whole "get off and find a random place to stay" idea, might be kinda fun. We will see...

Overall, I'd say I finally am getting comfortable with my trip.  The first few days were quite a rush.  Everything was just so new and confusing.  Now, I think I've got it under wraps :-)  Even for a traveler like me, it's a whole new ballgame to do something like this.  It's definitely quite the culture shock as well, which is a lot of fun.

Alright guys, I think I'm gonna go for a night stroll and check out the scene.  Shoot, some guy told me the Dutch don't even do breakfast (which I noticed).  Some places open at noon, others at 16:00 lol.  Hmm, the Sex Museum's open until 23:30.  Gotta love Amsterdam.



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