First, I have to get to my hostel for this leg to get rid of my stuff.
I will be staying here: Stayokay Amsterdam Stadsdoelen Kloveniersburgwal 97.
The last two words are a mouthful to memorize.
To get there, I have to take tram 4/9/16/24 or 25 and get off at Munplein. Muntplein. Muntplein. Inside the Centraal station, I asked where I can find the trams. The information person said “just outside”. So went outside and found the trams. But but but, I cannot find and of the trams that I should be riding even after waiting for almost an hour.
Passed time taking pics.
Again, when traveling alone, you should not be shy and gather your wits if you need to ask for help. Still need to get used to that. Apparently, those set of trams are found in another side of the station.
The names of the train stops are quite lengthy so be alert. They also announce the stops but...I found it hard to understand. Quite overwhelming already for my first stop. Their trams have these screens, I always sat near these:
I found my home eventually! Mwahahahaha! It was slightly past 8am and the check-in time is still at 2pm. I could leave my stuff in the lockers for a minimal fee (paid around € 2). I was still on shy-mode then so I didn't ask whether I could take a shower. Oh well, it was cold anyway. Wala nang ligo ligo. Parang di naman uso. Tour agad!
The free tours starts at 10am which will take up most of my morning. I still had time to grab breakfast. I walked around the block and got a croissant and coffee for € 5. I was so hungry that I forgot to take a pic of my first Europe meal.
Good morning Amsterdam.
Found the shops Amsterdam was famous for having. You cannot take pictures inside.
At around 10:00, a guy came in the hostel lobby to pick the interested participants of the free tour. Well, I was the only one. *Gulp* He guided me through the maze of Amsterdam streets. Mukha namang mabait eh, sunod land ako.
After 10 or so minutes of brisk walking, we arrived at the Dam Square.Glad to know that there are other participants. The free tours is organized by Sandman Tours. The tour is conducted in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French and, I think some other languages. I was the only Filipina in the group. There were a bunch other solo travelers so I basically just walked with them.
Our guide introduced himself and just checked if we can all really comprehend English. There were Indians, Singaporeans and Portuguese in our group. Quite diverse. At the onset, he already said that it will be a three hour walk and if we want to take a picture, we should just take a quick snap of the place since we will be covering a lot of ground. Uh-oh.
Amsterdam's primary mode of transportation are bikes. There are plenty of mad bikers out there. Our guide warned us to stay away from the red bicycle lanes.
We passed by the Red Light District (RDL) during the day but we were warned not to take any pictures because it could get messy. Although it wasn't the peak hours of the business, there were still a couple of prostitutes in the area - not doing business though. According to our guide, the standard rate is € 50 for 15 minutes. Photos were forbidden. The community protects each other. As the story goes, there was this guy who to a pic which flashed. The prostitutes threw his SLR on the ground.
Gardens of something (sorry, can't recall, I'll edit when I find out)
The Indian boys were nice and they took a pic of me. They were the also the only ones who were willing to be left behind by the group for a picture here. The rest of the group wasn't interested. Ako lang ba ang adik sa picture?
If Pisa has a leaning tower, Amsterdam has leaning houses. But everyone goes to Pisa.
The tour was free but it is an unwritten rule that you have to give the guide something. I gave him... 2 euros! Well, I saw a couple giving him € 5 but the next bill I had was € 50 which was already too much. So I shook his hand with the 2 euros in my hand, smiled, and briskly walked away. Harharhar!
Overall, the guided tours were okay, but it was definitely not for me. For one, we only stop at certain defined stops. We have limited time per stop so I can't really listen to the guide and take pictures at the same time.