Europe Photo Diary: Amsterdam
It's taking me so long to finish my Europe Photo Diary! I'm so busy with work and other real life things, I don't get a lot of time to update as much as I'd like. I have a massive backlog of blog posts I want to get up/work on, which is frustrating, but good at the same time because it means I'm still feeling inspired by blogging and I have lots of content for you all.
Amsterdam. The last leg of the European Explorer tour. Thirty three long, uncomfortable coach rides, sweaty hot weather, late nights, early mornings, a Contiki cough that never went away and all I can say is that I had a blast. We had arrived in the middle of the afternoon from Rhine Valley, Germany to pretty miserable weather, but it was lovely coming into Amsterdam and watching the cattle relax on the lush green grass as we drove by. To begin the final destination of the Contiki tour, we no other than went on a casual bike ride around the city, taking in its unique European atmosphere - windmills, canals, tulips and all. You don't need to wear a helmet while bike riding in Amsterdam and I was pretty freaked out seeing as though I hadn't riden a bike since I was about twelve!
After the bike ride, we visited a cheese and clog making factory, which ended up being so much more interesting than I expected. We watched one of workers carve clog shoes within seconds and sampled some of the most incredible tasting cheese and wine. The wine tasted similar to Ribena, which may sound disgusting to some people, but I guess you could say I do have bad taste in wine, favouring the sickly sweet. I loved it so much, I bought some cheese and wine and sent it back home!
We arrived to our hotel by the late afternoon with it being dedicated to getting ready for the night's events, which was - wait for it - a live sex show and checking out Amsterdam's infamous cannabis cafés. Yes, you read that correctly. After dinner at the hotel, we hopped on the coach before walking around the city with our Tour Manager telling us some interesting facts about Amsterdam. When we arrived at the sex show, we were greeted with penis-shaped lollipops before taking our seats. I'm not sure if I should go into detail, but it was definitely interesting and I'm glad I went! It was also pretty entertaining watching some fellow Contiki people, in my opinion, get violated on stage! When it ended, we all went exploring the city at night, which was like no other city I'd travelled to. The Red Light District is really something to be seen. A few of us stopped in at a cannabis café, which actually ended up being a rather underwhelming experience, but again, I'm glad I went. Before heading back to the hotel to call it a night, I wanted to check out the Blue Light District, but unfortunately, they're much harder to find in Amsterdam. I'm sure there'll be a next time though because I'd really love to go back to Europe someday.
The next day, we all woke up early to begin our day at the post office where we sent stuff back home, so our luggage on the plane home wouldn't be a million kilos! I was surprised to see people send home a couple of massive boxes back, compared to my little box containing a couple bottles of alcohol, cheese (the preserved kind) and my high heeled shoes I only wore once on the entire trip due to the incredible amount of walking we did. Somehow the post office ended up taking most of the morning, but when we had our parcels packed and ready to be shipped, we made our way to the Anne Frank House. The queue to get in was absolutely insane and we must've waited over an hour to get in. Thankfully, the Dutch are smart people and have free wifi in the area while you wait! Visiting the Anne Frank House was one of my favourite things on the entire trip. I love a bit of history and it was so sad, yet so fascinating to get a visual insight into what Anne and her family went through during the German occupation in The Netherlands.
By the time we were done visiting the Anne Frank House, we were starving, so we stopped into a little café for some lunch. I ordered a mushroom crêpe, which was insanely huge, I barely got through half of it! Continuing on from the darkness of some World War II history, we then visited a torture museum. On the coach ride to the sex show the previous night, I saw a poster on the streets advertising it and thought it would be interesting to check out. Perhaps I'm a little morbid?! To lighten the day, we then went on to visit a sex museum, which was a mixture of interesting, funny, fascinating and gross! We then visited a few souvenir shops before the coach picked us up to head back to the hotel to get ready for our final night out. If you're thinking about heading to Amsterdam, the city is full of fascinating cultural things and quirky souvenir shops. It was a refreshing change from free afternoons in Europe consisting of Forever 21, H&M and Zara!
To end our final night on Contiki, we went out to dinner and then on a canal cruise around the city. It was by far better than all the river cruises we went on and so fascinating to cruise by little canal houses, with even the land houses being so tiny. There was free wine, loud music and we made sure to take plenty of photos to make the last night count. When it ended, everyone bar a few people, went out to party hard, but I decided to stay in with my (former) boyfriend.
Day thirty three was a sad morning for us all. We all organised and packed our suitcases before one last hotel breakfast and 'bags to coach', and then all going our separate ways. Some of us stayed on in Amsterdam, some of us were getting on the coach back to London and some of us were being dropped off at the airport to either go home or continue our travels. It was a sad and tearful goodbye with many hugs, and it's so strange to think that thirty three days ago, these people were complete strangers in our lives, but a month later, we'd all be crying over the fact that we wouldn't be seeing these people ever again, or in some cases, just until we travelled around Australia. I met some of the most fun people on Contiki and they definitely made it a summer I'll never forget.
Next destination, back to Paris!