I met Buttless for a weekend in Amsterdam on Friday afternoon. I took the twins to kindergarten as usual and then hopped on a train to Frankfurt. From there, I boarded another train to Amsterdam. 6.5 hours later, we pulled in.
The night before, Buttless informed me what she’d be wearing. Errol and I laughed, but knowing her outfit’s color wasn’t enough. We were supposed to meet at the station but couldn’t find each other. Finally, after trusting some shady wifi networks, we reunited. Then, our adventures began.
Sleeping in Amsterdam is expensive. It’s a reason I didn’t go there before. I had heard from other backpackers that you needed to book a hostel in advance, and they weren’t cheap. That wasn’t my style.
Now, I don’t mind the planning but am still annoyed by expensive. Buttless and I were taken aback by the prices of dorm beds in Amsterdam. When we were on our adventures 10+ years ago, we’d consider an 18€ bed a splurge. We began our search weeks ago, and the ones that weren’t already sold out were running 100€ a piece! It was looking like getting a twin hotel room would be about the same price.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I love hostels. I finally found one for us, for the “deal” price of 60€ a bed. The hostel was a temporary pop-up next to a campground. They sold sleeping spots in little tents, big tents, and tiny temporary cabins. I booked us beds in a cabin. The tents were cheaper, but I chose the 4-bed female cabin. Best decision ever. It had electricity and a little space heater. It rained a lot over our weekend, and several times we remarked how awful it would have been if we’d decided to rough it in a wet, cold tent.
On Friday we rode the free ferry from the station to Noord and then walked in the rain to our hostel. Along with sleeping bags, they handed us Heinekens at check-in. Buttless was thrilled. The walk from Central was farther than advertised, and we used the bus as soon as we picked up our transit passes.
We wandered a bit and found a great restaurant for supper. We left Cafe van Zuylen happy and full. As Buttless and I were ready to go to bed, everyone else was about to go out. Most of the people at the hostel were in Amsterdam for a techno festival. We didn’t even meet the two women we shared our cabin with until the following evening. They hadn’t returned from Friday night parties when we left Saturday morning.
Buttless advised to head to the Van Gogh Museum first thing Saturday. I was particularly excited for this museum because last spring I read a biography on the Van Gogh brothers called Vincent and Theo. I loved it and was looking forward to seeing so many of his pieces I read about.
The sun came out during our lunch at a street cafe, and we took a canal cruise through the city. I liked this a lot. It’s fun to see a place by boat. That afternoon we visited three more museums: the Diamond Museum, The Museum of Bags and Purses, and toured an old canal house called the Willet-Holthuysen Museum.
We ate at a Mediterranean place for supper and then went to a coffee shop for dessert. We walked to Dam Square and found a carnival. We passed food stands selling “spun sugar” (cotton candy) but noticed they hadn’t gone as far as American carnival food. No funnel cakes or fried oreos in sight.
We returned to our hostel to again find most of our fellow guests hadn’t gone out yet. We met our roommates: two friends who spoke English to one another, but one was French and the other German. We laughed about how we were on opposite schedules. They had slept all day while we were out.
They told us the big show of the night didn’t start until 2 a.m. They left the cabin at 12.45 to start their night. I saw them go, felt the cold air rush in with the open door, turned over, and fell back asleep to the rain. Sometimes it feels so good to be 33.