Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Accommodations:
Since it was in the middle of the World Cup, every CouchSurfer that I contacted had already lent their couch to someone else.  I didn’t think about this since I rarely plan anything… Nevertheless, an apartment to sublet within walking distance from the center of the city was found and rented for the entire weekend.
The City:
Coffee Shops.  I learned that a “coffee shop” is not a place to get coffee.  It still doesn’t make sense to me.  Coffee shops are smoke shops here.  Cafés are more like restaurants.  So where do people go here to get a cup of coffee and do some work?  And what in the world do they call them if “coffee shop” and “café” is already taken?!

Confusing.  What I couldn’t believe is how disorienting this city is.  The city streets are in a huge semi-circle so when I walk along a canal for while, it seems like I’m going straight because I’m not turning down any side streets, but in reality, you wind up making a huge circle.  Definitely not like NYC where everything is in a brainless grid above SOHO.

The Outside Market – where they had freshly squeezed orange juice and piles of clothes for 3 Euros and other cool things that I had to refrain myself from buying.

Food and Locals.  I went into a Surinese place and gawked over the amazing food.  The old man working was so nice.  He let us try a sample of everything.  We decided to wait to eat with our new friends so we went to find drinks.  The old man that worked at the Surinese place dropped everything, left his store, and personally walked us across the street to the local bar.  This man was awesome.  He was our new best friend… for about 2 hours.

Museum Plein – the touristy area with a ton of bars and clubs.  We danced all night and had a great time.

Local Brewery – NOT Heineken – De Prael.  I loved it and the beers.  For a good price you get a sample of all of them, bought out one by one so that they don’t get warm while you’re sipping and a description of each one.  There was also a piano that I decided to play and be the entertainment for everyone.

Boats.  If you can make friends with someone with a boat, it’s a good and different way to see the city.  There are as many canals as there are streets.  I was on a friend’s boat just outside of Amsterdam and I thought the experience was great.  To get under low bridges, we had to push a button and wait for a person to raise the bridge.  Then, the person lowers a small wooden shoe from a fishing pole down to the boat so that you can give him some money for his troubles.  We also had to go through a loch, which I thought was kind of neat.


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