Wednesday, August 5, 2009

. . . amsterdam 01-03 aug . . .

assalamualaikum

a 3 day holiday was what i really needed after all this time. finally got a chance to travel european countries for the 3rd time and alhamdulillah it looks fine from my point of view. theres stil a lot of places to go however with the money i'm earning, i gotta spend wisely and slowly. but insyallah i intend to cover all the places in the future ahead.

anyway, the trip to Amsterdam was great. although i spent most of the time breaking my legs n back walking around town, it was a well taken opportunity. for what i can remember in one day we walked for about 10 hours or so. it was one hell of a workout. at one point i couldnt feel my legs or feet or anything under the belly button... ;P


Fatih Camil mosque

after an hour or so flight from Geneva, we arrived at Schipol Airport around 8. to those who dont intend to shop till u drop, i do suggest to bring a duffle bag or a backpack. its lighter and easy to carry around rather than use one of those bulky bags or the ones with rollers. plus u wont have to kill anyone who can trip over it whilst u go walking around. hahahaha... quickest way to town was of course with the train which will cost u like 3.80 euros, one way and takes about a mere 5 mins (provided the train doesnt stop, which is only like 15-20 mins trip. easy-simple). we kinda effed up our bearings when we arrived at the amsterdam centrum (city centre?) but u could prevent that by previewing the maps from the internet before you arrive or simply go to a mag store and get a small fold map. amsterdam is quite small but can be very tricky with all its winding alleys. but give it a few hours, you'll get the hang of it pretty quick. i had many debates on my colleague on finding the roads and our hotel (urgh).

the Quentin Arrive Hotel (no, it doesnt have any affiliation with quentin tarantino) was about 5 mins walk from the station, Harlemmerstraat street if i'm not mistaken. i don't really care of what the street is called coz one, i cant pronounce dutch that perfectly and two, i wanted to lie on bed everytime i first check into a hotel. not a bad place. i read several reviews saying that the hotel sucked big time but hey, what do you expect from a budget hotel?


the Dam Square is filthy in the morning...

a bit about the hotel. situation is just ok. 3 mins tops and you'll enter the real centre where the shops are. you'll find some cafes, bars, restaurants as well as a grocery store nearby. doesnt have bed and breakfast but you could order some coffee and crackers from the front desk. hotel staff are really minimal (i saw there were only 3, one at the reception, another vacuuming and the other cleaning up toilets) and their attitudes were very... ok. the toilets and showers are shared on each floor, so you have to fight for it if there is a need to poop or pee... and shower. rooms are small an cramped. dont expect any cable tv or any special treatments. no lifts, small and steep stairs. not really sound proof. towels are provided (if lucky) that should give you a bit of a view on how the hotel is... to me, its good enough if you are a cheapskate like me :)

cramped space...

Amsterdam is not that different from Paris. drivers are not as crazy though. streets are filled with the smell of urine and marijuana, which is legal of course. and no, i didnt take any coz i prefer to remain clean and sane :) not very hard to find halal restaurants. frankly i see that they have lots compared to Geneva. most of them are Turks and Indians. i wouldnt recommend the chinese-indonesian since they also serve pork. souvenir shops are easy to find. a few steps and theres another one and another one and so on... if you plan to buy some, scout every souvenir shop you can find and compare the prices. i didnt do that so i ended up buying two pairs of shirts which cost me like 25 euros whereby you can find similar t-shirts for only 5 euros a piece. but hey, i'm still happy with it :) food is way more expensive than Geneva and Paris but they come in very big quantities. for those who are weak on walking, you can always rent a bike for a day or so. didnt check on the fare but expect it to be way averagely bearable. you can cover most of the places within a day. i recommend the musuems, the Dam Square, Chinatown, the area in front of the train station, flower gardens.

one thing i found out from my observations throughout my holiday in Amsterdam. all of them are there for 4 things. Tolerance, Marijuana, Red Light District and live-your-life-to-the-fullest-when-you-are-young mindset. the first 3 being the most popular. also another that i might point out, the places that you really want to avoid... you can't avoid them. you will one way or another end up being there. which is the Red Light District. i wont touch too much on that subject.

frankly i didnt visit many of the destinations and skipped a lot of them coz either they were too expensive to pay for or just plain far away. i really wanted to go to Madam Tussauds (21 euros per head) as well as the parks. but no worries. its nearby so i can travel anytime i want provided i have sufficient amounts :) language is not a problem at all. go to anywhere you want, english is widely spoken.

to be continued...

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