Today we woke up around 9am ready for our full day in Amsterdam. We were both really excited to start the day. Usually Harry's more excited than I am but today, I guess it was the Anne frank house being on the agenda that I was really looking forward to. I read her diary when I was about 9 so it's just always interested me a lot. So we headed down to breakfast, buffet breakfast, we both had huge expectations for it as we've been having mostly cereal for a long time due to bad breakfast selections at other hotels but this is the Hilton.. It was a really good breakfast, really good, edible scrambled eggs and pastries and best of all fresh orange juice
after breakfast we headed out to our first destination: the red light district. It was a really nice day, the sun was out and everything. Walking along it was strange to see people smoking marijuana just casually on the street. On the way to the red light district we stopped in a big gift shop. Harry bought a green mug that has a little marijuana leaf that turns, which he says he's going to use at the car park for work - the council will love that. Harry bought me a tulip pen, the closest thing to a real one as I was going to get - Amsterdam being known for its tulips. We also bought a sticker as we do from every destination to put in our scrapbook after the holiday.
We continued walking, I am a much better map navigator harry says so I took the reins with direction. We ended up finding Dam square - one of the main squares in the city. It was fairly busy, hot dog stands set up all around much to Harry's delight, there was a big statue on one side and across the tram tracks was the royal palace. It was huge and looked amazing but we decided to continue to the red light district and come back to the square afterwards. We found the district and walked down it along the canal. It was around lunchtime so it didn't seem that dodgy but walking along you saw these stairs leading down into basements or cellars, dodgy looking stores as well as cafes, coffeehouses and restaurants. It didn't feel particularly unsafe but I guess with its reputation you just were on guard a little more. But again, being broad daylight there were heaps of tourists walking up and down and yeah, not as bad as it probably would be at night. We spent another ten or fifteen minutes walking around there before heading to a cafe near the main square to get a coffee and look at our map for what next. We got the iPad out and looked at all the prices for everything we wanted to do and figured out that all the sightseeing alone would cost us 180 euros, which is what.. Over $200 AUD easy. Then there was the problem that a lot of things closed at 4pm or 5pm. So we decided just to play it by ear, and rushed off to the royal palace.
The palace was beautiful, it was huge so we spent a good 45 minutes wandering around. It had these huge beautiful ceilings with paintings and sculptures and at least a dozen rooms with these amazing paintings, chandeliers and just furniture in general. We were surprised to see plasma tvs located in the bedrooms of the palace however :p must have been very technologically advanced for its time! We had little audio guides that were included in the tour, it's always the same though..you make the effort to listen to them for the first half of the palace and then just listen to bits and pieces later as they just go on and on. Harry had an interesting technique though, he wanted to take photos as well as listen to the audio guide, so he didn't simply alternative between the two tasks, no, the audio guide had an orange loop on it so you could hang it around your neck then hold it to your ear when you wanted to listen, so Harry loops the orange string around his head a few times so it's tight and the tape is fixed on his ear so he can use his hands to take photos. Ridiculous. There's a photo of it below so you can see what I mean. I even saw the security guards laughing and looking at him so it was obviously a first for them.
After the palace we walked to Anne Frank's house. I was so excited for this. There was a big church just around the corner from the house and as we came closer to the church we see this line of people just waiting in line standing around. Harry asked whether we should go inside the church and I told him if that was the line for it then no way. I then thought about it and realized there was no way that there would be this massive line for that church. Then it hit me. The Anne frank house was around the corner. This wasn't a line for the church. It was the line for the Anne Frank house! As we turned the corner my heart sank as I saw the line was longer and longer and longer. We only had this one full day in amsterdam, I didn't want to spend most of it standing in line for one place. So we went to the entrance of the house to look at opening hours etc. and I remembered you could buy tickets online, so went to the online ticket door and asked the lady if we bought some online now did we need to print the tickets or could we just show her on the iPad. She said we could show her on the iPad but that it was booked out for today. So we quickly headed to the cafe next door to the house, got a beer and tea and tried to order tickets for tomorrow - we could just go early in the morning before our train to Cologne. But no go. It was booked out for the next day too, our last day in Amsterdam. I was actually devastated, I'd wanted to see the house so bad. So eventually we decided to get up early tomorrow and be there when it opens and hopefully beat some of the queue and just wait as long as it took. If necessary we could always catch the later train at 4:30pm instead of 12:30pm. At least we could still go.
With the house on tomorrows schedule, we saw it was 1pm already and places were closing really soon. The next place on our list was the Van Gogh museum which I thought would be good, but a dilemma came up. With things closing soon we could only make it to one of the two: the van Gogh museum or this Heineken Experience exhibition. Harry really wanted to go to the Heineken exhibition so we gave the museum a miss - we may not have enjoyed it anyway. So we caught a tram straight to the Heineken Experience place. The public transport system is so good everywhere we have been on this holiday. You get to a tram stop and literally every single time the most you have to wait is 6 minutes. They also have a good ticket system, you buy tickets like normal but you touch on and off like a myki. It just makes you wonder how melbourne can get it so wrong.
We got to the Heineken Exhibition, waited in a long line, was fairly pricey -36 euros for both of us. They gave us wrist bands that entitled us to two free beers at the end as well as a bottle opener. Then we had another line to scan our tickets. It was so busy which ruined it a little. The exhibition was good, Harry really enjoyed it, wasn't completely my thing but it wasn't too bad. We went through the brewery rooms, even where they kept some horses! We then found ourselves in a big line for a4D ride in which you were the beer. We waited in line for one hour, it was so slow moving and everyone was just fed up. We finally got on. It was pretty cool, you got heated up by heat lamps and sprayed with water and rocked around as though you were the beer in the fermentation process.
After the ride the rest of the exhibition was much less packed which made it so much more enjoyable. There were little games and interactive things along the way such as putting your name on a beer bottle or being in a music video. Harry had a go at perfecting the right technique for pouring the perfect beer and then there was a bar at the end where you could claim your free beers which was packed and that was the end of the exhibition.
We were exhausted after the exhibition, we ended up spending about an hour and a half to two hours there. We decided to go the really cool cinema they have in Amsterdam and see if there was anything good on in the main cinema. We'd seen photos and it looked awesome. So we caught a tram to the cinema and saw that the only movie being played in the big nice cinema was the hobbit. I liked the lord of the rings movies so I didn't mind seeing it, Harry on the other hand hates them but he decided we should anyway because the cinema looked good. So we only had ten minutes until it started, so I lined up for tickets while Harry went to subway across the road since we were starving and hadn't eaten lunch ( it was 4:10pm at this point). Subway was directly opposite the movies so as we both stood waiting in our own lines, we kept turning around looking at where the other person was at, to see if we could actually make this movie in time. We did, but without lunch since subway ran out of bread. So we bought some popcorn and rushed into the cinema. The cinema was really nice. It was like an opera theatre with two levels of balcony above where we were sitting on the ground floor. The screen was huge with a stage in front of it, the roof and walls had heaps of detail and it was just really cool.
The movie was pretty long, 3 hours I think, Harry seemed to have felt it going slow as he loudly said "thank god!" at the end of the movie whereas it went by pretty quick for me. afterwards we caught a tram back to the room, exhausted. It was a really good day and I liked Amsterdam, Harry says he thinks it's okay, nothing special. Coming back would be good, go to some museums, go see a windmill as Harry's mum suggested :p go for a bike ride, go on a canal ride. So much more we could have done! Anyways, Anne Frank tomorrow, can't wait!!
Here are some photos for you:
Coffee time, and planning where next
Harry's lovely fashion accessory
A quick lunch
The church we thought the long queue was for
The queue for Anne Frank's House!!
Trying free wifi to buy tickets online for Anne Frank
At the Heineken Experience Exhibition
Waiting in line for this ride took forever
(over an hour)
Harry trying his hand at pouring the perfect beer
the sporty section
Harry giving his after-game interview: see video when we get back for a laugh
The amazing theatre
The end of the Hobbit