After Laura joined Aleks and Dominika in Cologne, we decided to go Amsterdam which happened to be one of the coolest cities we’ve visited during our trip. We’ve always dreamt about going there and we had the best timing ever: we could experience the city and at the same time, enjoy the Europride which was held at the time right there, in the capital of the Netherlands.
Getting to Amsterdam was very difficult for us. Although hitchhiking out of Cologne went quite well, we had to change our plans and take a different road; We started to have a lot of trouble near the Belgium-Netherlands border. It was getting late while we got stuck on a very, very small rest stop with one even smaller restaurant and no gas station in sight. There were almost no cars and even if we found some, there were usually going to Belgium, not to Amsterdam. We were starting to feel hopeless but there was one thing there, that helped to raise our spirits a little. We knew that Amsterdam is full of sex shops and sex workers but we never dreamt that we willl see some cocks even before arriving there. Just beside the restaurant, there were some benches and bushes from which we could hear a constant cock-a-doodle-doo’ing. At first, we were very confused, since we couldn’t really see any animals; We even began to think we were slowly going crazy, but under closer inspection, we noticed around 5 chickens and one rooster hidden in the branches. They were making noises all the time and that kept us smiling. After an hour of unsuccessful hitchhiking, we have reached the point where we were discussing which one of us will be sleeping on which bench. Fortunately, we met a nice guy going to Amsterdam who was willing to take us with him.
Getting from the centre of the city to our sleeping place was also challenging, since it was quite a long way from there. We had very heavy backpacks, were super tired and we couldn’t take any public transportation due to the cost of the tickets. Finally, we managed to get to our place which was one of the most amazing things we had the chance to experience in Amsterdam!
We had a chance to sleep in an amazing, small B&B called FireJuice. FireJuice is located in the North Amsterdam and was founded by a non-heteronormative couple that wanted to create a safe space for queer and like-minded people. You can rent two rooms in there: the Aqua Room and the Shroom Room- we had the chance to sleep in the first one. In both of those rooms, you can find mind-blowing, glow in the dark art on walls and ceiling which makes this place the prettiest hostel we’ve ever seen. There is also a big living room and kitchen were you can cook or eat delicious vegan meals prepared by hosts; and a small garden just beside a canal where you can put your feet into the water or borrow a canoe to paddle in. The atmosphere in there is very welcoming and the hosts treat you as a guest and a friend, and not just another customer that paid for the room.
Since our new place was quite far from the center, we borrowed the only two bikes that our hosts had and rode them everyday to a free ferry from where we could walk and enjoy the city. Riding the bikes was kind of scary, since there were three of us and one had to sit on the back of a bike but it was still such an amazing adventure that we featured it as one of our best experiences in a year summary. Every morning and evening we sang songs with wind in our hair and enjoyed the lesser known parts of Amsterdam.
The capital of the Netherlands is definitely one of the coolest places we’ve ever visited. There are a lot of young people living there and partying a lot. That’s why the city is so full of positive energy and you can feel very welcomed there. Everyone seems tolerant and you don’t need to worry about being queer. Especially when you’re there at a time of Pride and you get to see the whole city covered in rainbows.
The architecture of the city is amazing. A lot of small buildings, side by side, separated by canals. And from time to time you can find some majestic bigger builds, like Rijksmuseum or the Royal Palace. A lot of people there live in houseboats, which we all loved and Laura – who always dreamt of living off-the-grid or in a houseboat- was ecstatic about every single one of them.
Since every museum in Amsterdam is very expensive we weren’t able to see any of them, but we still had the chance to see a lot of other beautiful sights. We went to the Vondelpark where we rested and saw the I Amsterdam sign. Like probably every tourist there, we went to the Red Light District (it is difficult to miss, since it is quite big and in the center) and visited a few sex shops along the way. It was so nice to see all of them, proudly advertising themselves, not hiding as it is usually in most other cities. We walked through a charming Jordaan district and spent some time in Rembrandt Square. As usual, we got to see a few churches, such as the Westerkerk and the Church of Saint Nicholas. We even also got to experience some Asia as we went to the He Hua Temple! And we’ve visited not so popular place, but important for us – the Homomonument which was placed there in 1987 in the name of all LGBT+ people who have been subjected to persecution because of their queerness. There, we found a lot of candles and flowers surrounding a picture of a man, and met two gay men that were there to commemorate their friend’s death. That was very moving and we even shed some tears.
Beside that, we’ve tried busking. Amsterdam is a great city to earn some money on the road since there are a lot of people walking down the streets and a lot of tourists (you can read our guide about busking here).
Also -since we couldn’t really find any dumpsters to dumpster-dive from – we decided to go and visit one of the biggest farmer’s markets in the capital of the Netherlands. Around closing time, there is a BUNCH of free food there. You can find some other people there, waiting for sellers to leave; and some heron-like birds, pigeons and seagulls eating fish. We found massive amounts of food there and made some delicious tortillas!
Our stay in Amsterdam was an amazing success; like we said before – it was one of the coolest and nicest places we’ve visited. Beautiful architecture, open-minded and tolerant people, amazing canals and the best hostel ever. But, beside all that, we got to attend the Europride and the Canal Parade there which was definitely worth remembering. If you want to hear about that experience, wait for our next post which will be all about Pride in Amsterdam!