Tuesday, 26 June 2007

22nd June

22nd June
Bonn to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Arrival 54223km

An uneventful journey by motorway the whole way, over the border with not even a checkpoint to go through, and finally reaching Amsterdam at lunchtime. The first campsite I arrived at, although closer to the city, looked to be a bit of a hike to get to any transport, so I decided to try a different one. The site I ended up at is out in the Amsterdam Bos,or woods area, near to Schipol Airport.

I got organised and walked about 15 minutes to the metro stop at Spinnerij (there's also a bus that will take you to the metro) and made the 30 minute trip into Centraal Station. It was raining by the time I got off, so I was glad I'd remembered to pack my umbrella, and I admit to finally having bought a small 'manbag' to pack it in, along with various maps, guide books and my camera! The city is interesting, with so much water around, from canals to the River Amstel, everywhere you turn, there's another bridge, and navigation can get a bit tricky as all the radial streets run in ever increasing semi-circles rather than any kind of grid pattern. I'm sure everyone's seen pictures of this city and in terms of romantic, pretty scenery, it has the lot, from the old merchants houses with their tall, narrow architecture, to the houseboats and barges, pretty bridges and lots of flowers. Oh..... and what seems to be MILLIONS of bicycles! Everywhere you look, there are just row upon row of bikes, and don't get in the path of them on their cycle tracks or there will be a furious ringing of bells urging you to get out of the way!

I had a stroll around the shopping areas, trying to find my bearings, ended up at the Dam and then at the river, finally found a net cafe, and then had a bite to eat. I was in 2 n=minds as to whether to head back to the campsite early evening and rest up for a bit before going back out, but in the end I just stayed in town and had a few drinks, got chatting to a couple from South Africa who's next stop was Dublin. It ended up a fun night and the rain finally stopped by the time I was heading home, exhausted and falling asleep on the tram. I slept until the early afternoon, before heading back in to the centre, and the weather was finally looking like it might stay dry for a bit. The forecast isn't great for the next couple of days though, with lots of rain expected.

As I walked along, I realised that I felt far safer this time round in Amsterdam than I did when I was there previously; an experience that had me constantly on edge and looking over my shoulder. Maybe I'm just a lot more city streetwise this time round, but i don't get that edgy feeling that was what had put me off this city before. I'm liking it now, although I think my favourite city of the trip still has to be Berlin. The city was busy and by early evening I was sat in Rembrant Square in a small park eating chips! There was an international soccer match on a giant screen in the square, showing Holland and Serbia, and there was obviously lots of interest from the locals in that. By 10pm I was flagging and decided to have an early night. For some reason, the bars didn't seem that busy, although they probably would have been later on, but I was wrecked and headed for the bunk.

I suppose I'd better actually try and see some of the tourist sights on Sunday. Maybe a canal cruise and a visit to Anne Frank's house. By Monday, I may head north slightly and see some of the pretty towns and villages around the Isjelmeer lake, such as Edam and Volendam, but hopefully the weather will be kind.

No comments: