Well we made it to Amsterdam. Arriving from a train from Ghent we made it to our hotel and quickly became apart of the bustle of the city. Walking the canals and dipping in and out of small alleyways trying to get lost in a city full of art and culture. Like Ghent, Amsterdam is a university town and because of that, we had no problem meeting people our own age. To add to youth we were surrounded by, our two Canadian friends Matt and Andrew who we had been traveling with since Bruges arrived to Amsterdam a few hours after we did. Ryan again pulled through with a friend of a friend who happened to be living in Amsterdam, and after a day of exploring the city we met up with her and her friends from Liverpool for a couple pints at the local pub. It was only our first day here, and we, well in at least in our eyes, were experiencing the city like the locals do.
Did I mention Amsterdam was full of art? There are countless art galleries, some of the best museums in the world, and not to mention some pretty rad graffiti. On our first day there Ryan and I decided that our stay in Amsterdam wouldn't be complete without seeing at least one of the museums, and after some back and forth deliberation, we decided that the Rijks museum would be getting our 15 euros a piece. Dedicated to the art and history of Amsterdam, the museum had an incredible collection of paintings, sculptures, weaponry, ship collections, jewelry, and furniture that perfectly depicted how the times changed throughout the centuries. While touring the museum I had the chance of meeting Mr Van Gogh himself. Standing in front of his "Self Portrait" I was taken back at the intricacy of his work. The minute details of every brush stroke visible as I looked the painting over. Down the next corridor it came across my first Rembrandt. Not being an experienced museum goer, especially fine art museums, I was amazed at the accuracy and the clarity of his work. His paintings look like photographs, every subject's posture and facial expression was spot on. Besides seeing the work of two of the most well known artists that ever lived, my favorite part of the museum was the nautical exhibit, which consisted of a collection of boats, anchors, and navy weaponry. Being obsessed with all things nautical, I was in awe of the entire exhibit. Walking through the Rijks museum took us back in time and showed us an accurate depiction of how life in Amsterdam has evolved.
The next morning I was awakened by the thunderous coughing of Ryan. He had been fighting an uphill battle having spent everyday with me while I was sick, and I immediately knew he had caught the bug. Ryan was down for the count and there was nothing I could do but to boil water and bring him some tea. He smartly opted to stay at the hotel for the day while I went off to see more of the city. I felt bad for Ryan and could feel his pain having had to do the same when we were in Bordeaux, but I was excited to wander the streets of Amsterdam by myself. I started off the day at a local café and met a Hungarian guy named Aron who was on his way to Africa. We exchanged travel stories for a bit, grabbed a waffle and parted ways. I then made my way through the streets stopping in the many bike shops along the way sharing the Salty Spokes story.
After talking with one of the bike shop owners I found out that the person to bike ratio in Amsterdam is 1 to 1 meaning that every person who lives in Amsterdam has a bike. I was amazed at the infrastructure of the city which makes it so bike friendly. Every street has a bike lane, and every driver respects the cyclist. Amsterdam is my kind of city: beautiful, lots of history, amazing music and art scene, young, and most importantly bike friendly! Later that day I met up with the Canadians and Amy, an Australian who we met at the hostel in Bruges. The four of us having not experienced the insanity of the infamous Red Light District set out to go see what it was all about. To keep things PG I won't go into to much detail of the things we saw but I will tell you that the stories you hear about this place are true. Seeing a crowd of people our age funnel into a building at the end of the district we followed and to our surprise it needed up being super clean and furnished with Victorian furniture. The drinks were good and the people were friendly, and after some time we came to find out that the place was a brothel turned bar, and it is one of the most famous pubs in the town for students. We bounced around a couple more pubs and the four of us parted ways.
Even though Ryan ended up getting sick, Amsterdam was a blast, and is a place that I know I will be returning to soon.