Today we leave the bustling city of Berlin and make our way to our next country and to the final overnight destination on the Topdeck Mega European Tour, Amsterdam located in the land of windmills, tulips and dikes, the Netherlands. I am really looking forward to this as my grandparents are originally from Amsterdam and now I can finally see why even to this day back at home I always get asked if I’m Dutch because I look like I am, apparently…
15 June, 2012 – Berlin to Amsterdam
This morning we leave the German capital of Berlin and make our way across the border into the Netherlands heading or our next city of Amsterdam, the traditional end point of most Topdeck tours, and the tours of other tour operators.
Our first stop was at a farm on the outskirts of Amsterdam where we were shown how wooden clogs were made by a very eccentric Dutchman, all I can say is ladies look out all you need is a pulse and you will be a target of his sexual innuendo. There is also a shop here to purchase any clogs or cheese and other small souvenirs, they will warn Australians on what type of wood will not be allowed through customs, although on arrival back through Sydney they didn’t even look at what I brought through so the choice is yours.
On arrival into the city we checked into our hotel called Hans Brinker which has consistently been rated as one of the worst, and they are proud of it as you can read on there website. The streets are too narrow for the coach to take us directly to the hotel so we had to carry our luggage around the block to check in. It wasn’t the best accommodation but it wasn’t that bad so I wouldn’t stress over it too much as we stayed in worse accommodation along the journey, the hotel in Istanbul wasn’t exactly fantastic and my bed in Metrora was made up of pool chair cushions. Although there were some reports of bed bugs, so keep an eye on that.
After checking in we then went on a walking tour of Amsterdam, we were taken to Dam Square which is the historical centre of Amsterdam and the location of one of the Royal Palaces, and we also checked out the National Monument. We then head over to the Red Light District where we are shown our meeting point for those who are going on tonights Topdeck optional extra activity, the Sex Show.
We were now left to go off on our own to organise some dinner, I only had one thing on my mind and that was FEBO! I have been told all the stories from my family regarding these machines and how they loved them, now I think I have found my one true love and I could have stayed in here for the rest of the night just eating pure crap. FEBO is a chain of fast food restaurants serving cheap food through an automatic vending machine type of concept called automats. They serve predominantly mini burgers and the main thing I was looking forward to, all different types of krokets. I WAS IN HEAVEN! Now I fully understood why I ate the type of food I did when growing up with a Dutch background and I was in the first country where I blended in with all the people being tall and having blue eyes.
After being reluctantly dragged out of FEBO (I WILL BE BACK) we headed over to the meeting point for the Sex Show, I really wasn’t looking forward to this and didn’t want to go, but I gave in as most people in the group were going along and I thought what the hell, I may never come back here again and it could be quite funny. Of course being part of a tour group there is bound to be someone called up onto stage, I made sure that person wasn’t me by sitting eight people deep up against a wall, two people in our group were called up which was quite hilarious.
After the show was over everyone went their separate ways, a small group of us went with our tour leaders to a bar for some quiet drinks before heading back and turning in for the night.
16 June, 2012 – Amsterdam
Day 48 our last full Topdeck tour day, a free day to explore Amsterdam but in the morning most of us opt for another Topdeck optional extra, a bike tour around the city which you couldn’t really pass up given Amsterdam and bikes go hand in hand. The bike tour started across the road from our hotel (how convenient) and was run by Mike’s Bike Tours, they also have a bike tour in Munich. Being the tall person and wearing a purple jumper today, I stood out the most and was asked to stay at the back of the group the whole time so if I was with the group they would know no-one was left behind.
Bikes have right of way everywhere in Amsterdam so you can cruise around on the streets without incident, a note for when you are a pedestrian, especially when you’re Australian and used to looking to the right first before crossing the road that it is important to look left here or you may get bowled over by a bike as I nearly did a few times. We were shown all the main sites around the city and navigated the various canals and were given tips on what things we should see with our free afternoon.
At the end of the tour for being at the back the whole time (I really hate being at the back of the group) I was given a sticker with the company logo, a lighter and also a package containing a condom saying “The safest ride in town”. Everyone thought that was pretty amusing.
From here a small group of us decided we would head to Anne Frank’s House knowing that there would be a massive queue, but we figured we would check it out and if it was short we would go in, if it was long we might come back later and go see other things. Of course the line was massive so we opted instead to head for the Heineken Brewery on the other side of the city.
We started to walk the streets and head for the brewery, along the way we stopped to grab a bite to eat and also tried a local delicacy, chips with mayonnaise , you really have to wonder why the locals are not fat, but then again with all the unhealthy stuff I eat I’m not fat either, this must be where my genes come from.
We made it to the brewery and looked around, you are given three tokens on a rubber bracelet, two are for beer and another is for your ‘free prize’ at the end of looking around. There are a lot of exhibits to see, nothing too amazing though a lot of light shows in the Heineken green colours and projections, a little about the history of the beer and how it is made. You can even create your own bottle of beer to take home that has your name on it, not really worth the trouble.
We consumed our included beers and headed outside, to get this ‘free gift’ you need to either walk or take a boat along the canal to the Heineken shop on the other side of the city, so we went on this pointless adventure, made it to get our prize which was a pair of Heineken sunglasses. Oh well we had a look around the shop and continued on.
We then headed back into central Amsterdam to do some shopping before heading back to the hotel. Tonight is our last night together so it is going to be a big night, we are all going out to dinner to an Asian restaurant by the harbour. We catch the tram from the hotel down to Centraal Station (not a typo that’s Central in Dutch) where we have our last dinner together as a group.
After dinner we all boarded a boat and explored the canals having a mini party/farewell drinks on board, this is also an optional extra, but you are going to be left out if you don’t do this and it is the last opportunity to be out with everyone as a group. When the trip on the canal was over we then headed out to a bar/club where most people spent the rest of the night partying it up.
On my way back to the hotel for the night I think I made a stop at two separate FEBO’s along the way, I just couldn’t help myself. Tomorrow some people are leaving us in Amsterdam, some are leaving us in Bruges in Belgium where we will stop tomorrow, then most are coming back to London for the end of our 49 Day Mega European Tour.
DOWNLOAD: Topdeck Amsterdam City Guide