Saturday, April 16, 2016

Amsterdam

Hi, lovely reader!

Hope your week has been great! My apologies for not having updated you guys earlier, the reason to my absence is that I've been sick. Sicker than I can even remember being for years... But I survived, and I'm almost entirely well so all is good :) crazy how amazing it was to get back to work again, amazing what a period of "down-time" can do for your motivation and perspective.
My flu was also a signal that I have been working a bit too hard and not giving my body proper and sufficient rest, that it needs. Remember not to fall into the temptation of burning yourself out too much.. Work hard, play hard but also, rest hard. Haha. But in all seriousness, prolonged lack of sleep and/or stress does weaken your immune system and is devastating for your health. Life would be a lot easier if I was able to run on say, five hours of sleep a night.. But no, that's not the case for me so gotta just learn to work with that. :)

So from Thursday the 31st of March to Sunday the 3rd of April I was in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, Netherlands with my bestie Marianna. We were incredibly lucky with the weather. It was a little cloudy from time to time, but most of the time, the temperature rose to about + 15 degrees Celsius and the sun was shining. Perfect spring weather in other words!!


I didn't make too many plans ahead as of what to see or do. We booked a hotel with promising reviews about both the location and amazing staff who gave heaps of valuable information, tips and maps, and so we picked a couple of interesting "tourist attractions" we wanted to see, but the rest of the time all we did was explore. Just walking around without too much planned is my kind of traveling anyway, as usually the best experiences happen naturally when you're open to them and in the right mindset for allowing them to happen ;)
Amsterdam city center is easy to get around in on foot, which we chose to do as the weather allowed that so perfectly. The hotel we booked was fairly in the center, right next to Vondelpark, which is a gorgeous and huge park definitely worth a visit, anytime of the day (we felt safe walking there even late at night or really early as the sun rose, and it was even more beautiful without the masses of people everywhere). On a side note - hotels in Amsterdam are very expensive, especially in spring and summer. It's smart to rent an Airbnb instead, which is what we'll do, too, next time we'll visit. :)

Leidseplan was also just 500 m away from our hotel. It's a popular area with restaurants, clubs, shops and bars. Having centrally located accommodation during whilst in Amsterdam is something I definitely recommend. Trains and such from further away quickly get expensive. You can literally get around everywhere by foot, tram, canal boat or bike, if you dare, ha ha..! (we didn't :D).




A word of advice regarding transportation.. There are scooters and bikes more than there are cars, and traffic's very busy.. As in most bigger cities / capitals of the world. Amsterdam is a mix of trams, buses, cars, bikes and scooters with lots of pedestrians, too. You quickly get used to it though, but you need to watch your step, and look around before crossing streets etc, because chances are, there's some mean of transportation coming your way..! Also, be careful not to fall into a canal, ha ha. :D Because they're everywhere! What amazed me the most was that NOBODY uses a helmet, not even scooter / motorcycle drivers!! To me who has grown up seeing everyone wear one, this really surprised me. Sure, it's not the first country I've seen people do this (Thailand, I'm looking at you) but even in other European countries where they might drive like nutjobs, most people still always wear helmets while riding scooters.




selfie overload! LOL @ the last one, before posing for the pic we actually didn't notice right outside where we were standing (it was very bright and sunny!).. lmao laughed so hard after we took this picture and just had to include it because #ohtheirony (and nope - I did not get myself a burger from McDonald's)

This wasn't the only thing that surprised me about Amsterdam, and it's different, liberal attitude. The entire city, literally, smells like weed. Even though I was prepared to seeing some people use it here and there but for real - the smell is everywhere you walk, no matter the time of day or what day it was.. Coffee shops are obviously widely spread, but it seemed that many just casually smoke it in public.
 The Red Light District was quite an experience, too. We didn't stay too long, but had to see it with our own eyes, though not late at night, when I wouldn't recommend going there, as people kept telling me it's a bit unsafe.
The attitude to drugs and sex sure is something else than what I'm used to seeing elsewhere in Europe, safe to say.. You'll see what I mean when you're there yourself. So, if you're offended by or highly dislike any of these two things, know that you've been warned, hehe ;)

Was it easy to eat vegan, then? Fairly easy IMO. We didn't even look up any veggie restaurants in advance and I still never had to walk around hungry for long, haha. It's not even something I spend time worrying about anymore whilst traveling. (I've been eating a plant-based diet for over 3 years now). Sure, I buy snacks to keep with me in case I get ravenous but seriously, it was easy peasy. Nothing to worry about! We even fine dined totally ex tempore at a fancy 5-star Indian restaurant, which we just randomly picked and they had many vegan (and delicious!) options. The first night literally the only restaurant with a kitchen still open past 11 pm (at Leidseplein) kindly agreed to make a super yummy vegan pizza that they didn't even have on the menu. Just ask, most restaurant staff is helpful and understanding if you're brave enough to ask for it. A tip is to say that you're allergic to dairy, then at least the staff will take your request seriously. People speak great English everywhere in Amsterdam which is great.
I also indulged on some delish falafel-sandwiches, they had a delicious fast food chain place in several different spots. Can't remember the name, though, sorry..!

yummy lunch curry

I think Amsterdam has something to offer to people of all ages. Maybe not for the smallest children, but I highly recommend a visit to this vibrant and hip city to anyone over 18 of age. It's a must-see of Europe, which I kept hearing all this time, and after having seen it with my own eyes, I would have to agree!


x Mira

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