I arrived in Amsterdam on Friday around midday. I stopped before the main station (Central) as my hostel was located on the south east side part of the city. I had a nice stroll on my way there, walking along a canal. After checking-in, I took no time in going outside to grab lunch and then make my way to the center of the city. There was buses and trams going there but I wanted to take advantage of the weather so I walked all the way. Amsterdam is a really nice city, I really enjoy the canals running through the city, given it a sens of relaxing and close to nature place. As they are many bridges and more trees than the major European cities, or actually any big city in the world. After half an hour or more, I was finally reaching the center of it, with more bikes along the way and tourists also. This was a beautiful end of week so there was a great energy in the city, plus, Holland was playing their first football game tonight, against last World Cup winners: Spain, so the city was buzzing with excitement.
I spend my whole afternoon in the city, wandering around, getting lost in small lanes and taking pictures of the nice architecture. I eventually sat down at Rembrandt’s park to have a small break and realised this must be one of the best place to watch the game, as it was surrounded by pubs with orange pennant banners hanging out and all sorts of decoration (indicating the game was played at this establishment). I also managed to get free wi-fi and uploaded a picture, just to realise that Nicholas, my first Salsa teacher in Australia (from Rockdale, NSW, Sydney) was actually also in Amsterdam, spending his last week-end and he would return back home after a year overseas. So that was definitely time for me to catch-up with him. Eventually I got home, walking again, got changed, had dinner there too and then made my way back to the city just on time to see the game. Somehow I ended up in an Australian pub (Coco’s outback) and it was full of Dutch supporters, but most of them were English. The place, like most pubs that night, was choc-a-block. I could hardly move but the atmosphere was great. Netherland ended up giving a beating to Spain (5-1) which led to a huge celebration on Rembandt square. I later tried to contact Nicholas to catch-up with him but without any success.
Saturday was pretty much a repeat of the previous day. It was sunny and warm, I changed hostel and got closer to the city. Then I went to discover the rest of the city I didn’t see so far, to end up in the main place where a beachvolley tournament was happening. So I stayed there for most of the arvo, watching some semi-pro players exchanging the ball on the hot sand. Pretty sure I managed to get a tan after a couple of hours under that sun. In the meanwhile I got in touch with Jana, a friend of Enrico (met in Mexico, back in March), who was living here and we agreed to caught-up later this afternoon. Once I was done with the volley ball, I got home, changed and went to Vondelpark where I caught-up with Jana. Nicholas had something happening that night so we decided to caught-up on his last day, Sunday, right before leaving for Australia. That night there was a free gig happening in the park, a local rock band, so we sat close to it but far enough from the crowd and chilled with other people on the grass. Once the gig was done, we ended up in an underground pub, the only one opened until late, and we stayed there late, heading home not before 4am. Biking my way home, that early in the morning, and being far from sober, was something I will definitely remember.
The week-end ended up with a late start, waking up close to midday on Sunday with brunch nearby Vondelpark. The afternoon was dedicated to the traveller only chore: laundry. So it was a very chilled day, watching some more football game on TV (France was playing its first game if I remember well), and organising my evening with Nicholas. The plan was to firstly go to a salsa party happening at Kroon in Rembrandt square and then end up at a private corporate party next door at Escape nightclub. So we did and I finally got to catch-up with Nicholas, that I haven’t seen in a year and half, in a salsa/bachatta/zouk party on the other side of the world. Those moments are always special. We danced the night away and had heaps of fun at both places. Another night finishing early in the morning, he had to take a flight back home and I just walked back to the hostel to rest again…
My time in Amsterdam was coming to an end. I was planning to head to Germany, most of local friends, living near Munich and Stuttgart, but then got told I could not go to this country without checking Berlin. The issue is Berlin is located on the north east part of the country and it is not too close from my friends’ places. So I decided to go to Berlin first and then make my way south towards Munich. A relatively long bus ride from Amsterdam that I took on Monday. After so many years living in nearby France, it was finally time to go to Germany!