[NETHERLANDS 2015] Amsterdam

I took advantage of the transit flight in Amsterdam to extend my stay there for 4 days, since my flight ticket was expensive anyway so might as well make the best of it! KLM was kind enough to accommodate with my many travel needs (such as changing my flights twice lol). 

After saying goodbye to Iceland, I made my way to Amsterdam.

I checked into Qbic Hotel, which is situated in the WTC area, about a 2-minute walk from the Amtersdam-Zuid Station. A pretty reasonably-priced hotel (with interesting "design" choices - such as the omission of a bath / toilet door), free wi-fi, super close to the train station which makes it easy to get to the Amsterdam city center, and the WTC buildings houses some restaurants which are worth looking at (there's a Wagamama chain here, which I didn't try, but many have recommended the restaurant).

That's right, there is no door separating the toilet and the bedroom. Not a problem for solo travellers like me, but a problem for couples probably :P For the price, I'm not complaining! And I've been told the hotel is supposedly looking into this issue.
My only complaint was that there was no water kettle. Otherwise this place is pretty awesome.
The first few days in Amsterdam was pretty gloomy - I was spoilt from the excellent Iceland weather I've had for the last three days, so my spirits were pretty dampened by the weather welcoming me in Amsterdam. Still, I was there, so I made the best of it.

On the first day there, I visited the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum - bought my tickets at the Visitor's Center outside of Centraal Station since I didn't want to line up outside the museums.

The Van Gogh Museum was truly worth the visit - I'm not a an art expert, merely an art lover, but I've always felt some sort of empathy for Van Gogh's story as well as his paintings. During the time I was there, there was also a Munch exhibition ongoing, and there was a parallel to their stories which was really interesting and somewhat sad - to think that such similar men with heartbreaking stories of their own and yet never had the chance to meet each other. The museum had most of Van Gogh's famous works there and more importantly his life story - probably one of the greater tributes to Van Gogh imho.

Had a light breakfast at the cafe in the museum - great ambience, not so great spinach juice (yeah, I know, my fault for picking spinach in the first place instead of normal orange juice, sue me)
My next stop was Rijksmuseum, which was really huge. I had no idea beforehand how huge this place was going to be - I think I only covered maybe 50% of the exhibits because I just didn't have the energy to continue on afterwards lol. Probably it would've been a better idea to have lunch before and dedicate 2-3 hours or even half a day to Rijksmuseum if you're planning to visit.

The rest of the day was spent just wandering around Amsterdam while trying to find Centraal Station by foot lol (you can call it getting lost, but it doesn't sound as nice).



Aaahh sinful waffles I miss you so
Somehow I've stumbled upon Chinatown - there was a temple around this area
o hai there Malaysian restaurant
I also booked myself a Free Walking Tour with Sandeman Tour - basically the guide will take you on a walking tour around Amsterdam's main attraction points while telling you all kinds of interesting histories (prostitution, marijuana laws, how the canals are built, etc.) and at the end of the 3-4 hours' tour, you're expected to give them tip based on how you like their tour. Tip generously if you really like your guide, as the commissions are basically their pay!

An advantage to joining these kind of tours when you're travelling solo is that you make friends along the way :) 

Our walking tour group
We learned that back in the day, Amsterdam people would be recognized by their trades - so these kind of wall carvings would indicate your profession and would be hanged outside of your house. If I had a house mine would be Nadirah the Travelling-Engineer or Engineering-Traveller or something along that line. Now that's a mouthful.

The narrowest house in existence - can you find it? Go ahead, I'll wait.
This was not what I had in mind when I ordered cheese pancake. I'm not complaining!
After the tour was finished, a few of us decided to grab something to eat at a nearby restaurant before we make our way to the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank House is one of the must-visit attractions - yes the lines can get extremely long but it will be worth it. We were lucky, since we went in the late evening and most of the crowd has thinned, so we only waited for 5 minutes. 

Visiting the Anne Frank House is sobering - there's a hushed silence that follows you when you walk around the house, where the walls have so many stories to tell. I think the thing that haunts me the most when you're there is realizing that this truly happened - it's not just an abstract concept, these people were truly killed because an idiot decided that he was judge, jury, and executioner. You learned about it in history books, yes, but I don't think the realization that it truly happened really hits you until you're there, standing in Anne Frank's previous room, reading about the horrors that happened to her and her family.

It's even sadder to think that these things are still happening, that Hitler's idea didn't die with him, that there are war-mongering idiots still living and breathing around us and planning wars in other countries in the name of "freedom".

With that sobering thought, I end the travelogue here.

Go to [Iceland 2015] Day 8 (Silfra Snorkeling & Aurora Hunt) | Go to [Netherlands 2015] Edam & Marken