The next morning, Evelien’s dad drove us to our hostel – the Stayokay Zeerburg where we were staying for the following 2 nights. The outside of the hostel looked like it used to house a school and as we got into our room we were surprised to see that the room had really high ceilings. We were much closer to the city now and as we had some hours to kill before check in we explored the area a bit, which was more or less the immigrant neighbourhood of the city.
We spent the next two days doing some more exploring of Amsterdam which was incredibly filthy the day after because the cleaners were on strike. We spent most of the day walking around and returned back to the red light district area where we found a nice street with nicer coffee shops.
On Saturday night Andre and I went clubbing to Amsterdam’s version of Gay Bash which was sooo much fun. We got back to the hostel at about 4:30 am and I slept through the free breakfast in the morning, waking up at 12. I didn’t really want to do that much as I was pretty exhausted so stayed back in the hostel till about 2pm before going to House of Bols. The weather was pretty miserable by then – it was raining pretty heavily so we returned back to the hostel at 6:30pm where I just spent the night in bed and we flew out the day after.
The week we left for Amsterdam I had to rush to London as I got the unfortunate news that my aunty passed away. From London I booked a British Airways flight to Zurich as it ended up being the least complicated option for me to make my original KLM flight from Zurich to Amsterdam. It was my first time to properly explore London Heathrow, which really is incredible! I caught the Heathrow express to my terminal, accidentally boarding the 1st class cabin but as the train ride was only 4 minutes I figured no one would check my ticket so I just stayed in the cabin, Winona-ing the latest Wallpaper on my way out.
When i arrived into Zurich I had about 3 hours to kill before my exchange friends Andre and Anssi were arriving from Dornbirn. I figured browsing the internet would be the best way to pass time and reluctantly decided to buy a $50 universal charger to plug my laptop in as the Switzerland plug in is smaller than the rest of Europe. (This actually was a good decision because my UK-Europe adaptor ended up breaking a couple of weeks later anyway.) While i was browsing the net I suddenly received a message from Andre telling me that they had already boarded and asked if i was coming. I glanced to my laptop in confusion because I thought we still had an hour till the flight left before realising I was still in the UK Timezone! (which is an hour behind the Central Europe Timezone). Realising i had about 5 minutes before the gate closed i sprinted to the gate and heard a PA announcement calling for me.
We arrived into Amsterdam, greeted by Evelien with whom we were staying for the first 2 nights (She had already finished her Erasmus exchange in Dornbirn and was back home). She took us to a market place which was filled with people in orange, food stalls and a boy handing out free cookies on the eve of Queen’s Day. Me and Andre digged into the free cookies, still not knowing why they were free! There, we were also introduced to Evelien’s lovely parents and watched 10pm fireworks with house music pumping in the square – a great introduction to our weekend of celebrations!
The next morning we woke at about 9am to be greeted with a table filled with delicious breakfast organised by Evelien’s parents. Her mother then brought out this Dutch cake which had a layer of orange icing on top and was really delicious! We spent some time watching the Queen arrive into a Dutch city on the television before getting ready to finally hit Amsterdam. Evelien painted our faces with the flag of the Netherlands and her mother gave us orange ties as a welcome present and this crazy hats.
We caught the tram into the city which would get filled with more people at every stop. The crowd were pretty rowdy and again covered in crazy orange accessories. We got off close to the city and as we came outside of the station we could hear the sound of horns and live music, the smell of chips and weed and a huge crowd dressed entirely in bright orange. The day was spent walking around the city and in the morning I went on a ride which was one of the scariest rides I’ve ever been on. It was one of those rides that rotated in circles whilst at the same time swung up and down in the air. Because it was so cold the wind was really strong everytime you’d go up and down… I felt so sick afterwards.
Evelien then took us to the red light district, we saw market stalls all over the city, public male urinals which stunk everytime you walked past them and at about 4pm we sat down and had a drink in a pub in the nicer part of the city. Tiesto was playing at the night so since we had some time to kill we took it a bit easy in the afternoon, deciding to go to a ‘coffee shop’ to kill some time.
At about 8pm we decided to make our way back to the main stage to see Tiesto play, seeing a couple doing it doggy-style in an alleyway on the way there and 5 guys laughing 1m behind them. We got to Tiesto towards the end of his set, still managing to get close to the front of the stage. The energy in the crowd was so great – it was like being at a music festival back in Sydney. We then met Evelien’s dad who had brought his car and drove us all back home.
I was so scared of fireworks as a kid – not because of the noise but because I just couldn’t figure out what happened to the gunpowder after the colour had faded away. I always feared that for some reason it would fall into my eye and that I would then turn blind, so I would always turn away when I saw the light coming down.
I visited the House of Bols whilst in Amsterdam which was pretty much a museum dedicated to the Bols alcohol brand. It was a really well designed museum, incorporating the 5 senses to make it more interactive for the visitor.
The first element was taste which had strips similar to those Listerine strips but flavoured in 2 alcohol flavours – strawberry and chocolate. For some reason I thought each time you picked up a strip it would be a different flavour, so I had about 5 chocolate strips in a row before realising it was all the same.
The second element was smell which had about 20 perfume bottles which you would spray and guess the flavour of alcohol. You then had to unfold the panel above the bottle to reveal the alcohol flavour. When you reach the tenth bottle it’s really hard to tell the difference so everything smelt like melon to me by that stage.
The third/fourth element was sight and sound which was a room which projected text and audio to emulate a club.
Finally, the museum ended with touch as you selected a cocktail from a touch screen which printed the recipe to be given to the bartender in the mirror bar. I chose the Vanilla/Strawberry cocktail only because I hadn’t tasted it before and felt like something fruity. From there you can sample as many of the flavours as you want but since I didn’t have breakfast, decided it was better not to as I would probably get drunk off 1 shot.
I saw this in Amsterdam and was told that it’s not only green because of this city (ah ha) I was told that McDonalds are slowly changing their branding so that instead of the traditional Red and Yellow colour scheme they are now incorporating the new colour scheme of Green & Yellow!
I don’t know about you but it reminds me of the McDowell’s restaurant in Coming To America