Starting off a year of travel in Amsterdam, Giethoorn, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and the windmills of Zaanse Schans & Kinderdijk.
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The Netherlands wasn’t my intended first country on this gap year. Western Europe was actually completely out of the question. But since my girlfriend and I originally had plans to go anyway, it made more sense to combine the Europe trips in one trip. Three months in Eastern Europe and 3 weeks in the West. Not only save myself for too many long haul flights, but I save money and airmiles.
Amsterdam was my first city and it was a great start for this year of travel, especially traveling with a companion for a change. After all, she wanted to see Amsterdam and I couldn’t see it without her. The jetlag the first time in Europe was totally fine and I slept like a baby that first night. This time, I felt insane, and so did she. For starters we got lost and confused with public transport since the city was renovating the Centraal train station. I rarely get frustrated while traveling but the jet lag didn’t help with my patience. She was so exhausted that she couldn’t even get frustrated with me or the experience.
We however did arrived at our first Airbnb right outside the canal system got settled and made some time to walk around. We walked back to get groceries for our little kitchen and as expected, fell asleep at 8 pm with all of our clothes on. 12 hours later we reset our bodies and had a nice day walking around Amsterdam, ending our night off with a nice local brew at the IJ Brewery where we saw our first windmill.
Next morning we set off on a long train journey north to the little village of Giethoorn where we caught two trains and a bus, which was costly in my opinion ($25 train, $10 round trip bus, $25 to get back.) Pricey, but it was surely worth the trip as we were the only Americans with maybe 12 to 15 other Dutch tourists. Part of the town is only accesible by boat giving you a fairytale feel, but foreal. It was incredible taking a nice boatride around. In a race against time, and the sun, we made our way to the bus (another $10 RT) that takes you all the way up to Zaanse Schans, a well preserved windmill town. Our stop was the last out of 20 stops, traffic was bad, and I was geting anxious to beat the sun. Thankfully we did, and caught a gorgeous sunset with the windmills. To cheers our trip, we went to a local coffee shop and smoked, the dirty Dutch way. 😉
Next day we set off for the mini Amsterdam city of Utrecht. The rain that day really made our trip unpleasant as we booked a last minute stay at a hostel really far from the city center and waiting around for a couchsurfing host was going to make things harder. We still made do with going into the city despite freezing rain and strong wind. We were pretty miserable, but were happy to still do our bests to enjoy it.
Thanks to the help of my little companion, we found a bus from Utrect that could take us to Kinderdijk, another area with windmills but 10 times better. We beat the rain with all of our stuff and made the experience work so well. It’s efforts like this that pay off and make you just oh so happy. We saw the windmills in an hours time in time to catch the next bus into Rotterdam where we stayed at the infamous Cubehouse, one hell of a trippy experience I must say.
Rotterdam isn’t so mind blowing as it is much more modern despite the destruction Nazi Germany caused. But it is still a nice city to spend some time in with all the modern architecture and bridges. We managed to make our way to Schiedam to see some more windmills, went aboard the S.S. Rotterdam and grabbed a drink with a friend at Fenix Food Factory before ending our trip and making our way to Belgium. 🙂 …to be continued
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