After chilling for a while back at East Seven hostel it was finally time to leave and get our train. We had stocked up on food for the journey to Amsterdam. However in the long wait at the hostel the majority of it got eaten. Including the worst burgers ever made, ever! They were microwavable and just horrid. Luckily I had purchased a nice Caesar salad which would clear my mouth of the horrid taste.
We heaved our huge rucksacks onto our backs and set off to get the metro three stops to Berlin Pankow train station. We were expecting it to be like most of the other train stations we had experienced, having various fast food outlets and places to relax. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t. It was like a ghost town. We had also arrived a good 90 minutes early for our train, so we were definitely in for quite a wait. Fortunately we met Thomas; he was from Norway and was also InterRailing, like us, although he was doing it by himself. Like us he was also heading for Amsterdam so we chatted to him for a while, sharing stories of our adventures so far.
We waited and waited but still no train. It was heavily delayed now, over thirty minutes late. It also had changed platforms resulting in chaos as people tried to work out where they were supposed to be in the absence of any train staff. Finally our train arrived. Everyone bustled on trying to find their compartments. Luckily we found our pretty fast. Even better it was completely empty. Which judging by the size of it was a good thing. The compartment was about six feet by five feet, very very small. Slowly we all managed to fit in, abandoning our bags; losing what little floor space there ever was. There were four of us though and some how someone had fitted six beds into this tiny cabin. In came the first of our roomies, a middle-aged woman who scaled the ladder quickly and in one swift movement mounted the top bed, lay down and fell asleep. This must not have been her first time. Slowly we all got accustomed to our tiny beds and then got ready for bed. It wasn’t until the next stop when we met our final roommate for the night. We were almost all in our beds. The four of us all skinny, stacked up on our tiny shelves or ‘beds’. He walked in and said “Oh my god, it’s like a bloody Japanese prisoner of war camp in here.” On this sudden realisation we all burst our laughing. It really was. That said the rocking of the train lulled me straight to sleep and I had the best sleep I had in days.
We all woke feeling very refreshed the next morning. The train was still steaming along and somewhere in the night we had bid farewell to our other roomies. Thomas was down the carriage and when we saw him it looked like he had had a very different experience, being in a very rowdy compartment it seemed they had been up shouting and drinking for most of the night. Finally though we pulled into Amsterdam, our final city.
Somehow we managed to navigate the station and find our way onto the correct metro which would take us to our hostel. We were not that optimistic about the hostel and when we arrived our fears were realised. It stank. There was mould everywhere; the shower was black from it. Also the hostel was on the first floor and only accessible by going up the steepest set of stair known to man. These steps were also lined with people smoking, not the best image for a hostel. However when we got shown to our room luckily the room did not smell of smoke or have any mould, thank god! It certainly seemed though that the ‘Amigo Budget Hostel’ certainly was budget, except really the price. However everywhere is expensive in Amsterdam, that’s just the price you pay for visiting this city.
After unpacking we all lay down and relaxed, it had been a lot of travelling. Our holiday was almost over, having just a few days left we decided to get up and energise ourselves. We then headed towards the centre to get our bearings and explore our new city. After crossing countless canal bridges, going past many coffee shops we finally ended up in a lovely Italian restaurant on the outskirts which compared to other places was pretty reasonably priced, the food wasn’t too bad either. However it definitely did not compare to our local Italian in Berlin. It had been a long day of travelling and walking. We all agreed that the amount of walking we had done was beginning to catch up on us. My legs felt more tired than they had the previous summer when Tom and I were cycling around Europe!
We rose early, today would be our museum day. We were aiming to visit as many of the museums as possible. As our hostel was only a 30 minute walk from the museum quarter we decided to stretch our legs. I wish. We were running low on money so couldn’t afford to take public transport. Oh how our lags paid the price. Soon using dumb luck more than sense of direction we found ourselves walking past the impressive Henry Moore sculptures and standing in the queue to go into the Rjiksmuseum. Fortunately we managed to convince them that we were under-18 and therefore were able to get in for free! We were all very happy about this. So we began, keen to see all the art by lunchtime. If you are interested in modern art this isn’t necessarily the museum for you, however I do think there is something for everyone at the Rjiksmuseum. One thing I do think was a let down was the lighting of the majority of the exhibits. Once you enter the museum there is no natural light. They have placed blinds on all the windows, I am assuming this is to protect the artwork. However it does detract from it slightly when the vast majority of paintings can only be seen properly from certain angles, avoiding glare from the artificial lights. All in all it was a good museum though and well worth a visit if you have time, the queue wasn’t too bad either.
Next we decided to go to the Van Gogh Museum, once again securing under-18 free tickets, this really was turning into being a very cheap day. Unfortunately the times of our tickets weren’t for a few hours we therefore decided to walk through the canal network up to Anne Frank’s House to see if we could pre-book some tickets. We had the forethought for Anne Frank because almost everyone we spoke to told us of the horrendous queues. We had also been told though that if you pre-book then, “you can just walk right on through.” Unfortunately there were no tickets to book in our timescale. We had one option and that was to queue. We decided we would come on our final day, get up early and wait it out.
Eventually we managed to get inside the Van Gogh Museum. It is fantastic. Really worth a visit and I preferred it to the Rjiksmuseum! The museum is set out in a way which takes you on a journey through Van Gogh’s life making is very clear how his art progressed throughout his years. The museum also contains a few pieces by other artists such as Monet. It’s not huge so doesn’t take you very long to go around but is very interesting and highly detailed. After the Van Gogh Museum closed we began the long walk back to our hostel. It had been yet another long day of walking.
On our final day travelling we rose early, as planned, to try and beat the queues to the Anne Frank Museum. It didn’t really work. By the time we got there we were already waiting in an hour long queue. However we could manage that because our flight back to Manchester wasn’t until the evening. In a nutshell the wait was long and pretty boring. However once we got inside it proved to be well worth the wait, and also the price to get in –yes we finally had to pay to get into a museum. I had read the entire guidebook on it in the queue so knew what to expect and what was in each room. Most of the rooms are bare, how they were left once the Nazi’s had ransacked the place. It is a very poignant place, filled with emotion. It is small but it is good, it serves as a great reminder about what happened and has been expertly converted into a museum.
After a bit more traipsing around Amsterdam, buying presents, taking photographs, eventually we meandered our way back to the Hostel to retrieve our bags. It was time to go home. Our taxi was booked, we had no option but to book through the Hostel and as a result we got extortionately ripped off. However we didn’t mind much. We were going home, it had been an amazing experience. We had seen a lot and been to many different places. In many ways it was totally different to travelling around by bicycle however when I finally got home I still had that buzz of adventure and some really tired legs.