Tag Archives: Amsterdam

It’s a European Thing

A trip around Europe is a backpacker right of passage, especially if you’re an Aussie. Staying in hostels, bumping into the same people on same route and exploring the other side of the world.

Most enter through the gateway of Amsterdam, a city whose liberal attitude may appear shocking to most, intriguing to some and even normal to others.

I remember the flatness of Holland and the smallness of Belgium where you could pass through it and be in 3 countries in one day. There is the beauty of the canals of Bruges and the discovery of Italy, where every city is different.

There is the history of Rome and Pompeii, the craziness of Venice and the little gems you find along the way, like Verona. And then there are more ruins in Athens.

It’s the Asian culture of Istanbul that leaves you wanting more and the bleakness of Eastern Europe on the cusp of Russia. Closely followed by the opulence of Vienna.

Then there is the gothic wonderland of Prague, before finishing off with party time in Berlin.

My first trip to Europe still lives brightly in my memory, even though it was taken a lifetime ago. Each country had a different culture, language and even a different currency.

No matter how many times I go to Europe, there always seems to be more to see.

I have never been to Scandinavia, Liechtenstein or Poland. I missed Ghent in Belgium and countless other places in Italy.

Like Cinque Terre, Siena and the Amalfi coast. I never got to properly taste wine in Tuscany, see the fountains at Tivoli or go to the island of Sicily.

I missed out on visiting an island in Greece, I’m sure Eastern Europe is quite different now to what it was then; and the Cesky Kromlov seems to be the place to go now instead of Prague.

I know there is more to Germany than just Berlin, like Dresden, seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle and shopping at a Christmas market.

I can’t wait for my next magical European experience even if it is not in the near future, because a continent this diverse is definitely worth waiting for.

Related posts: It’s an English Thing, It’s a Spanish Thing, It’s a water thing, It’s a French Thing, Europe, 2006, Europe, 2003, England, 2002, Berlin, 1997, Part 2: To the East

Holland, 1997

Sarah and I travelled on the Stenaline Discovery from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.

We tripped over the hundreds of bikes out the front of Amsterdam Central Station and went to stay at the Globe hostel.

As everyone who visits Amsterdam does, we visited the red light district, saw a peep show and went to the Stone’s Café with handy menu’s showing the different forms in which marijuana could be consumed legally. Other cafes such as The Doors Café, the Grasshopper and the Greenhouse were all appropriately themed.

We visited the house where Anne Frank lived behind a bookshelf during the war and went on a tour of the Heineken Brewery. We went for a ride on the huge Ferris wheel in Dam Square and saw the famous Sunflowers painting at the Van Gogh museum.

Amsterdam is a city full of museums, so we also went to the hemp museum, the torture museum and the sex museum.

My favourite day was when we went on a canal boat tour of the Amstel River.

Nearby in Leiden, we visited a real windmill- the Molen De Valk, also known as the Falcon Windmill. Very cool.

We went to The Hague to see the Binnehof and the International Court of Justice.

In Zwaag, we visited some friends of my parents who owned The Great British Shop in Hoorn. They had kids, so we all went to Walibi World theme park in Flavoland for the day. It was strange seeing a big orange kangaroo (the theme park’s mascot) and not being in Australia.

I remember the Holland countryside being extremely flat and windy with dykes and three pronged white windmills.

Our first Euro rail ticket entry was to Station Blaak in Rotterdam.

The Erasmus suspension bridge reminded me of the Anzac bridge in Sydney.

We also saw the the Williems Brug bridge, the Euromast tower, and visited the old port area of Delfshaven before heading to the next country- Belgium.

Related posts: England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing