One of the first things that caught my eye once we arrived to Amsterdam was how much life there is on the streets. So many people! Tourists and locals. You hear people speaking Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese. You name it! Although I am Brazilian and it’s not uncommon to see people walking up and down the streets, I guess living in the U.S. has made me unaccustomed to this.
Public transportation in Amsterdam is pretty amazing. Although most there do bike to get to where they have to go. In fact, Amsterdam is pretty known for its bike culture. It’s pretty cool to see. A little intimidating from a pedestrian point of view, to be honest. You have to look 10 different ways before crossing the streets ;). They are so good at it though and one cannot help but wonder how they manage to make everything work: tons of bikes, car traffic, trams, and pedestrians. But somehow it does work.
JP and I made our way to the tram and off we went in the direction of our hotel. And now for my very first whoopsie embarrassing moment in Europe. Because you always need those moments in your life: getting off the tram. JP headed to one door to exit while I headed to a different one. I saw him getting down and I was swiping my card so the doors would open and I could follow. But that was not working and the doors were not opening…
Before I knew it, the tram was leaving and all I could do was stare at JP from inside and bid him adieu. Did I panic? Heck yeah! How would I find JP after? But luck was on my side and quite a few people in the tram came to my rescue. They let the driver know to stop once again and showed me how to get the doors to open.
Wanna know what was missing? Apparently to open the tram doors you need to push a button. The driver doesn’t just open all the doors on every stop. Surprise! Yes it was embarrassing, but all JP and I could do was laugh about the incident. And weeks later, here we are still joking about it. Damsel in distress much?
Tram incident behind us, we found our hotel: Hotel Larende. Here we were welcomed by the loveliest local managing the front desk. She checked us in, gave us some tips, and even made me a delicious hot chocolate while JP enjoyed his first beer of the trip. On the house. I really can’t recommend this hotel enough. It was within walking distance to everything. Our room was so clean and they offer the most delicious breakfast every morning.
We settled in our room and were ready for the adventures to begin. The first thing we like to do when we arrive to a new city is walk around and explore. Get a sense of where we are. Especially with no sleep, we wanted to kind of take it easy. We walked to a food hall close to the hotel and had our first meal in Amsterdam. JP loves hummus and we found this platter with a variety of different flavors of hummus, falafel, and pita bread. Everything was delicious and it gave me the boost I needed to start exploring.
For a first afternoon, we did walk quite a bit. We saw the beautiful canals, the unique houses everywhere you turn, Christmas decorations, and festive lights. Even though it’s winter time and the trees have lost most of its leaves, I was so surprised with how romantic it felt to walk down the streets of beautiful Amsterdam. It felt like walking into a movie set.
And if you’re wondering if we ventured into the Red Light District, the answer is yes. More so because I wanted to have my own opinion about it. One of the things that Amsterdam is really known for is the Red Light District along with the legalized use of marijuana. So I wanted to check it out myself with an open and neutral mindset.
When we walked around, it was still early (6PM) so it was just starting. The sun had already set, so it was night time. Although I find the entire concept interesting, I have to say it just wasn’t for me. Not the Red Light District itself. But the actual tourists you would see around. There was a certain creepy vibe about some that I didn’t particularly like. I am happy that we did check it out ourselves though. I guess it’s part of the Amsterdam experience.
We got back to our hotel at around 8PM with every intention to look for a place to have dinner. It was Friday night and our first night there after all. But JP and I quickly realized that all we wanted in our lives at that moment was to sleep. So to bed we went. To enjoy our first restful night of sleep in Europe. If the world had ended that night, I probably wouldn’t have noticed or woken up. I was so tired! But don’t you love those nights? When you’re so exhausted from the day that you immediately fall into deep and restful sleep. It had been a while since I slept so well.