Hi! It’s no problem at all. I was only there one night but the staff I met were very friendly and helpful and the few ever-changing residents were also nice. If I go back to Amsterdam I’d defo stay there again as it’s in an easy to find, central location and was really cheap especially as you get breakfast for free. Sadly I had to leave before breakfast was served but I guess it’d be pretty standard hostel grub - Toast, cereal, coffee etc. Any more questions just let me know :)
The next day Ellis and I get the train to Amsterdam. We head straight to our Bob’s Hostel to leave our bags. It’s very easy to find and a short walk from Central Station.
We both adore Maoz, a falafel fast food chain. They do perhaps the best falafel on earth. Naturally we go here first and then back to Central Station to catch the free ferry over to NDSM, an old shipping wharf which is now the location to underground festivals and a place where people can graffiti. It is so colourful and full of unusual art such as old tram carts which now seem to be homes.
It was soooo cold so we didn’t spend long looking before catching the ferry back to the city. We walk to Foam which is an ever-changing photography exhibition. Ellis loves photography so I thought this would be a great place to visit after the Dutch people I met surfing in Spain recommended it to me.
We spend the rest of the day generally exploring and stumble upon Anne Franks house as we head to look at Westerkerk. Neither of us have much interest plus it’s getting towards closing time so we go to find the Condomerie instead!
Sadly we fail and end up in a shop called Candy Freaks that sells vegetarian and vegan chewy sweets. The lady running the shop takes a shine to me and keeps letting me sample different sweets. I notice she doesn’t offer any other customers this service. After I pay for some sweets she asks if I want some popcorn. Oddly, I turn down her wonderful offer and head back to the hostel to consume said sweets.
After a bit of a read and snooze we head out for some noodles and a ponder at the red light district. Again, I find it weird. I cannot bring myself to make eye contact with any of the ladies and I find it so cringy when I see guys go in. I dunno… I would definitely judge someone if I found out they had been with a prostitute.
All in all, Amsterdam the second time round was really good. Much colder but more planned. We wake up really early in the morning to get our flight back to Bristol. We land at 10am UK time and after picking up the car we drive to Ikea for some well deserved breakfast… and candles… and a carrot plushie for my dog Pepé… and some other junk… Come on! It’s Ikea. Who can resist?
It was long overdue to visit my Dutch friends Elise and Martijn. We flew from Bristol airport where Ellis did a bit of twitter stalking. He coincidently found a guy sat near us through hashtags so sent him a message telling him to enjoy some mobile phone convention he was going to haha.
Anywho… The Loers (Elise, Martijn and their little girl Sophie) met us at Schiphol Airport and drove us down to The Hague where we wondered around, looking at the houses of parliament We grabbed some Stroopwafels from a street vendor - One of the main reasons I came to Holland. They are wonderful!
The next day we drove to Rotterdam. It was very cold and it was snowing but not enough to settle, but enough to make me regret not bringing a scarf. We looked around the shops and I had a nice fruit salad with yoghurt for brunch.
In the evening to went to a really nice and really expensive sushi restaurant called Moshi Moshi. They did a surprising amount of vegetarian food so I was very happy.
My friends were very hospitable and their daughter was just a treat. I’m used to a spoilt, screaming, crying 5 year old nephew so a quiet, polite 5 year old girl made a nice change.
My first trip since going around the world and it was good. I landed in Santander late afternoon and get picked up by the surf house owner Carlos’ wife (I forgot her name but she was lovely) who drove me the short 20 minute journey to the house.
Its very quiet when I get there as everyone is out surfing so I go for a walk along the beach. When I get back I meet another British girl and two Kiwi girls. There are also a couple of Danish guys, a solo Dutch guy, a solo Spanish guy and a group of 10 mixed Dutch who I only end up meeting 7 of.
Spanish don’t ‘do’ vegetarian. I end up with an asparagus omelette which is my first and last hot meal. It’s off season so most places are closed so I live the remaining week on supermarket foods consisting mainly of bread and fruit. I wanted to buy some soup but even the vegetable soup had chicken in.
Sooooo surfing. My first day in the water is so much fun and I don’t want my lesson to end so I go out again in the late afternoon where the waves have gotten a bit bigger. A bit too big for me but still very enjoyable. The next day an Italian joins and we go out for a lesson together.
Our instructor Andres is all like ‘little waves, good for you’… They were over 2 metres!!! One wave knocks me off and I spin underwater so just have to hold my breath until I float to the surface. No point trying to swim when you don’t know which way is up… I finally surface and see another big wave coming for me so I jump onto the board and paddle paddle paddle and aarrrgghh I haven’t even got my breath back but it happens again! I spin under the water with only half a breath. I see my leash so follow it up. As soon as I surface I paddle to the beach, get out and sit. Water pour out my nose and I splutter trying to get my breath back. I feel like crying from all the shock but instead I head back into the water. The waves keep crashing on top of me and I can’t get past the break. Due to already being petrified I decide to abandon the sea for the day.
I tell the Dutchies about not wanting to go out again as it was so scary but they reassure me. The following day the sea is manic with the ‘wrong’ kind of waves so nobody surfs that day. A walk on the beach reveals an empty sea.
When I can finally get in the water again, it goes much better and my fear passes. If I get held under again, just hold my breath and float but luckily nothing so drastic happens again.
My last 2 days are flat. One day is really nice so I go to the beach with the Dutch and catch the ferry for a little wonder around Santander. Sadly the second day is wet and windy and we are in the middle of nowhere sooo we spend almost the whole day watching the 1st season of Revenge.
Returning home my plane is delayed by 2 hours due to snow earlier that morning at Stansted. This is quite annoying as it means missing the coach home but I alter my ticket and during my half way wait at Heathrow coach station, a nice bus driver lets me get on his coach rather than waiting around for another hour.
Things I learnt:
- I love the sea but I prefer to be under it looking at all the amazing fish and underwater life rather than riding it.
- I miss Ellis greatly and this was made worse because the day before I came back, he went on holiday to Cornwall so it meant not seeing him for 2 whole weeks!
- I enjoy my own company but tire of it quickly. Thank God the Dutch spoke great English else I think I would have gone mad.