Amsterdam! – the city of sex, drugs and so much more

As Way2go, an organisation for exchange students at Maastricht, was organising a guided tour in Amsterdam in early September, we decided to sign up for it since the tickets were relatively cheap at 24 euros/pax. A train ticket to Amsterdam from Maastricht would have cost us 24.50 euros without the OV-student card discount, which I had yet to apply for at that time. The entire journey was by bus, which took us almost 3 hours in total. It was surprisingly not much slower than taking the train, and much more convenient too since taking the train required a transfer at Utrecht. Here, we could just sit in the bus all the way.

Having been cooped up in the warmth of the bus for 3 hours, I felt COLD when we eventually emerged from the bus after it dropped us off near the Amsterdam Centraal station. They provided sandwiches for breakfast which we didn’t eat initially, so we grabbed the leftovers for lunch when we got off the bus!

As it was supposed to be a guided tour, the way2go guides wanted to split up the very large group into smaller and manageable groups. The Singaporeans all wanted to stick together in the same group but the guide was determined to split us up because they said that each group should have some diversity, which was totally true and reasonable of them to want that. But somehow, after some combinations and further recombinations, all the Singaporeans eventually ended up in the same group! Which was really an LOL moment.

This was a massive group photo that was taken at the start outside Amsterdam Centraal, before we all split up. Most of the Singaporeans were clustered to the right of the photo.

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And so, we set off on a walking tour of Amsterdam! Amsterdam is a really beautiful city with an extensive canal network. It’s no wonder that it has been dubbed as ‘Venice of the North’. I think it would be great to wake up to the view of the serene canals everyday, with your boat anchored in the canal just outside your house! <3

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It was nearing the end of summer but we still got to see some lovely flowers by the roadside along the bridges. 🙂

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We walked past the red light district. It’s kind of deserted in the day but there were some girls already doing ‘business’ and standing in their windows. On no account should you take photos of the prostitutes! Otherwise you might get yourself into a very unpleasant situation. As for me, I had totally no intention of taking such photos, having read up a lot about the consequences online beforehand, but I had my camera hanging around my neck and I didn’t realise that we were walking into the red light district until it was too late. Luckily, nothing happened to me. I guess as long as you weren’t holding up your camera obviously to take photos, they wouldn’t go and chase after you.

Unfortunately, the guide that was assigned to our group wasn’t very good. He himself seemed unfamiliar with the places and frequently led us down the wrong paths. Furthermore, some of the Singaporeans in our group wanted to stop and buy food and other stuff along the way. Eventually, a representative proposed to the guide that we Singaporeans want to break off from the group and meet back at the bus at the stated time to go back to Maastricht. I think the guide was quite shocked and unsure about splitting up but the rep (can’t remember if it was C or Fi) was quite insistent and assured him that we would be fine.

After splitting up, we eventually agreed to all go to the Heineken Experience, which is basically an interactive museum about the history of Heineken, how beer is brewed and there was a beer-tasting and pouring activity too! We asked for a group discount at the counter and were each given a wristband with several buttons on them. One button entitled us to a door gift (which we never collected in the end, as the collection venue was somewhere else) while the other two entitled us to pour our own beer from the tap! We had to pry the buttons out from the wristband and hand them over to the staff in exchange for the beer. Throughout the whole tour, before the beer-pouring activity, I was rather paranoid about the buttons accidentally popping out from the wristband while I was unaware, and so I kept checking the wristband to ensure that they were still firmly attached.

One fun part was the 4D show about beer brewing. It was a stand-up show but there were special effects like vibrating of the floor and the spraying of water at the audience. Overall a fun experience, but don’t compare it to the pure excitement of the 4D shows at Universal Studios!

After the Heineken Experience, we walked to the I amsterdam sign. This is rather touristy but as tourists, we can’t not go and visit the sign! Some of us were daring enough to climb the letters and do cool poses, but I’m chicken so my feet stayed firmly planted on the ground. Haha.

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A panorama that I took. Incidentally most of the Singaporeans happened to be posing for their own photos at the same time. So it created quite a nice effect overall!

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We went to this place called Sports Unlimited for a spareribs buffet for dinner! I don’t really get how people could actually ask for seconds because I had LOTS of difficulty trying to finish the one on my plate! The portion served is really quite large so it was value-for-money at 10+ euros per person.

Finally, we wandered around the city centre at night to wait for the bus to depart. The way2go bus would only depart at 12.15am which in my opinion was far too late. There isn’t much to do in Amsterdam at night when the shops are closed, unless you are a pub crawler or person looking to shop at the red light district. But the night view of the canals are really pretty too!

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Overall, I really like the vibrant city life and serene canals (hmm those two seem to be contradicting each other though!) of Amsterdam. The only downside was the sickly sweet smell of weed wafting in the air at times, which I initially thought was the smell of stale urine. I do have plans to try it sometime though, but probably not smoke it since I really hate the smell! Amsterdam is too large to be covered in a mere day trip. So I definitely have plans to visit it again!