Wednesday, May 27, 2015

herring sissy vaca: Amsterdam

Welcome to the final installment of the Herring Sissy Vacaaaaaa! 

If you'd like to go in order, here are the links: 


I almost got all of the Europe post out during April, but oh well! A year ago today, we were in Europe, but we had not left yet, so I take it as a win that a complete 365 days hasn't passed! 

Starting where we left off, we were on a sleeper train with two men. We were on the bottom two bunks, they were on the top. It was weird because we couldn't chat, so we ended up just going to sleep. I'm pretty sure I stuck my arms through my backpack and purse straps just in case. Our train got in super early, and when we woke up, we were afraid we had missed the stop. It's hard to know the stops when several are only a couple of letters different from each other. 

We made it to Amsterdam and immediately booked a hostel on the WeHostel app. Binky giggled as she made the reservation. Why you ask? 

Because it was in the red light district. 

Color me mad. I guess it didn't really matter, but that area was not at the top of my list. 



It wasn't until we got there that we discovered how le mis it was going to be. This is what we walked into. Every single one we stayed in had a clean, nice room. This one had not been cleaned, obviously. I thought they would do it later in the day.. nope. I think it was called the White Tulip, sooo don't stay there. 

The beds were numbered, so we found ours, and put our stuff in the bins below the bed, then went to explore! 


Everything was so pretty! 




We stepped into a souv shop and I was amazed at all the wooden shoes! 


So was Binks haha! 


We decided to rent bikes to ride around. I was still nervous from the Vienna experience, but I got back on that horse for Binky. We had to give them our passports to rent the bikes, and they kept them overnight. A bit unnerving, but it was fine in the end. We had to turn them in the next day by noon, if I remember correctly. 


Clearly looking like tourists with the bright green bikes. 


Amsterdam is laid out in a circle and is surrounded by canals. It made for lovely pictures! 



There were bikes EVERYWHERE. 


We rode down to the Museum District. This is where the famous I amsterdam sign is. 


You know I wanted a pic under the R, but there were way too many peeps. 




We got some DELICIOUS waffles at a little stand. Binky got nutella, and I got chocolate. 


"Pose with the waffles!" 


More pics from the back of the fountain. 



We went to the Van Gogh museum. I highly recommend it! Obviously you couldn't take pictures in there, so I have none (insert frowny face). There was a giant collection of Van Gogh's and also neat science-y things, like X-rays of some paintings that show how he painted over other works he had previously created. 

After that, we went to the Heineken Experience, a tour of the Heineken brewery.




You could download an app for free, and it told you the story of Heineken as you walked through the brewery. Binky and I shared headphones to listen throughout. 




We enjoyed the tasting room, of course. 


Parts of the ceilings were made from Heineken bottles. How cool is that?! This was in a room that was surrounded with wall sized screens showing Heineken commercials from past and present. A cool thing about them (that you might not have noticed) is that they don't have words, so they're universal. Just music. And usually something crazy happening to someone who ends up with a beer at the end. 




Again with the bottles. 


Mirror pic! 


The tour included two beers. 


It also came with a "free gift" and you could take the ferry to the Heineken store for free. So we did that and drank a couple more on the way there. 



We checked out our map to figure out where we would end up/how to get back to our bikes. 



There was this cool ice wall in the gift shop. Turns out the free gift was a small little glass, but it fit in my backpack, so it came home with me! 


Spotted this cute little vespa on the walk back to the bikes. 




And we finally made it back to the brewery! 


We rode our bikes back to the hostel. But of course it wasn't that simple. Binky was leading the way, went around a curve with a wall blocking the view, and I thought she turned right. Turns out, she kept going around the curve. I got L.O.S.T. and couldn't find where I was on the map. I found a nice local who pointed out I was off the map (WTH), and she nicely pointed me in the right direction. I almost got hit by a van at one point. That was super terrifying, but fear not, I made it back to the hostel! 

We showered, then went in search of dinner. If you can believe it, we were walking along and heard: "Scarlett??"

We both stiffened up and slowly turned around. Who knows us here?!? It was Binky's tour guide from the first part of her trip (when she went to London, Paris, etc.) named Maria. It was quite exciting! She had a tour group in Amsterdam from Texas, and Binky didn't even know she was going to be there. Maria ended up joining us for dinner and drinks. 




The next day, we woke up and returned our bikes, then headed towards the Anne Frank Museum. We ate at a little cafe along the way. We had to stand in line for over an hour to get in, but it was worth it! I sadly didn't take any pictures in there, but I think you could. It was super interesting with excepts from her diary in each room. 


After the museum, we tried to make it to a cheese tasting class. 


It ended up being full, but the nice shop owner gave us a little intro to some of the cheeses in the shop, along with some wine. It was so nice! 


The cheese was soooo good! He went around the display and as we went along, the cheeses aged more, up to three years. It was delicious! 


We went on a little beer tasting tour of our own after that. We chatted with Tom, Binky's roommate. He was coming to pick us up from the airport. 




My trusty guide! 


Example of the road names we were working with. 




CHEESE TOWER! 


We went back to our hostel/red light district that afternoon. We chatted with some girls who recommended the pub crawl, so we decided to do that since Bink had not been on one yet. 

There are a ton of interesting shops in the red light district.. 




There were some nice places on the edges of the district though. 



I loved finding bright bikes. 



We ate dinner, then went on the pub crawl. It was a bit weird at first, but we mingled with more of the people as the crawl went on. At one bar, there was this vending machine for warm nuts. HILARIOUS! 





Rooooxxxannnneee! 





We had fun, but we left a bit early and headed back to the hostel to go to sleep. 

The next morning, we were woken up by girls checking into the room who were suppose to be staying in our bunk bed. Wtf, hostel! Not to mention our room was so so so hot. We gathered our items, then went to the train station to head to London to go home. We had plans to eat lunch and get some souvenirs for everyone back home since this was our last stop.


Turns out the train left in 30 minutes! EEK! No time for anything. We picked up food at this cool little pasta fast food restaurant thing in the train station, and jumped on train to eat. 

We got to a stop where everyone seemed to get off the train. Binky went looking for the restaurant car because she had a coupon for a free coffee. I got the feeling we were suppose to get off here as well. As soon as Binky came back to our seats (after they had blown the whistle),  I told her this, and by the time we gathered our things, the train was pulling away. 

We were in fact suppose to get off the train at that point. We ended up in the middle of nowhere in Belgium. We got another schedule (that's it above), and jumped back on the train back towards the last stop. 

Binky found a sudoku in a paper, it ripped, so she patched it together with a band aid. haha! 


Brussels! Nice to see you for 5 minutes! 


We went to the London terminal with some time to spare. We went through London security before getting on the train, and it was INTENSE. I thought they weren't going to let me through. The lady asked me twenty questions. Of course I didn't know the name of the hostel, and that flew up a red flag. Binky had to come tell the drill sergeant that we were just passing through to get on our flight home the next day. I believe we showed her our flight itinerary.

We arrived in London, and I tried to find the Harry Potter 9 3/4 platform. We couldn't find it, so we set out to find a hostel. 


We stayed at the Pride of Paddington, since that was near the train station that would take us to the airport. We had a roommate who was quite stinky. He was a chef and had been staying there for several days, so we decided it was his shoes. Yuck. 

Lucky for us, there was a pub downstairs, so we ate there and escaped the room stank. It was delicious! 

Of course we had some beers.. Auburn-y looking ones. :D 


I chatted with a guy who thought I was Australian due to my Southern accent. What?! 

We went to bed pretty early, because we had to wake up early to catch the train. Our hostel included a traditional English breakfast, and it was yummy! We got it to go, and ran to the train station to buy tickets and jump on the train. I'm sure all the other passengers were thrilled with the sausage and potato smells coming from our food. 

We RAN through the airport because we thought we were late. Turns out we weren't! We were WAY early. We finally boarded, and since Binky was in a row alone, we were able to sit together. 

We watched The Grand Budapest Hotel and the Lego Movie together, both excellent! In the middle of those, Bink watched Her and I watched Monuments Men. I slept a tiny bit, but not much. With a 8 hour time difference, we arrived back in Charlotte around 4pm (I think that's right)! 

Finally home! 

I think I'm going to do a post of all the stuff I packed/how to pack for 3 weeks in one back pack, so look for that next! 

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