Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Amsterdam & Rotterdam

Note to self: Don't visit Amsterdam alone ever again.

As a female I 110% did not feel safe staying in shared hostel accommodation on my own in Amsterdam.  When I was in London earlier in the year it was perfectly fine, but Amsterdam is an entirely different kettle of fish.  From a Belgian guy with a questionable understanding of English who asked me whether I was Christian, married and why I was so far from home, among other things, and then woke me up at 2am demanding I call an ambulance, to a lad from Latvia who insisted on sharing his life story with me and was insulted when I refused his invitation to go for a walk with him at 11pm. Oh Amsterdam...

Despite the chaos of my accommodation I managed to enjoy my daytime adventures.  On Saturday I took the train to Rotterdam.  The Rotterdam train station itself is modern and pretty fancy.  Outside the station is a sight you become accustomed to shortly after arriving in the Netherlands.  Bicycles.  Lots and lots of bicycles.

From the train station it is a short walk to the Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp).  I love animals.  And I love zoos.  This zoo in particular was pretty massive and had so many exhibits I spent hours there.  From polar bears to wolves, lions and otters, elephants and zebra, an aquarium and an amazon globe full of butterflies, Rotterdam Zoo has something for everyone. And also these cute inquisitive little guys.

I particularly enjoyed watching the elephants.  One little mischief maker was intent on annoying his much larger pals.

After a day of walking around the zoo I was absolutely exhausted so was understandably unimpressed by my less than courteous roommates.

On Sunday I went and joined the queue at the Anne Frank House bright and early so I could avoid the bulk of the crowds.  Compared to my experience at Auschwitz, the Anne Frank house left me feeling underwhelmed.  It was interesting to see where the Frank family and their friends went into hiding after reading Anne's published diary when I was at school.  However I found the lack of furnishings in the rooms meant it was difficult to truly appreciate 8 people living undetected in such a space.  The inclusion of a store and cafe as part of the museum commercialised the entire experience and made it seem as though nowadays Anne's hardship has turned into a money making venture, as opposed to education and the acknowledgement of the suffering of Jews during the war.  All in all I was pretty disappointed with my visit to a place I'd been wanting to see since I finished reading Anne's diary.

Following my visit to the Anne Frank house I walked to the Rijksmuseum.  This is the national museum of the Netherlands located at the museum square, close to the Van Gogh museum and the I Amsterdam sign.  This was a wonderful wet day activity as the museum is enormous so took a long time to walk around viewing the exhibits.

I concluded my Sunday by wandering around the shopping district and canals before heading to a burger bar for dinner.

Overall my experiences in Amsterdam were enjoyable.  I much preferred exploring the city with friends while on Topdeck than going it alone.  If any females are planning solo travel to Amsterdam, do your research into a safe hostel or splurge on your own suite in a hotel so you can guarantee a good nights rest.

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