You know when everything is going right, you’re just anticipating something to go awfully, terribly wrong?

We stepped off the ferry to board a two-hour train to Amsterdam. Without fail, we caught all the right trains at all the right stations. When we got to Amsterdam Centraal (their main train station) we hopped on the right tram to take us to our first AirBNB stay. We turned down the right street and ended up at the right house with the right people. We both looked at each other and silently agreed not to say anything about our luck.

We stayed about 10 minutes outside of downtown right along another canal. After we dropped off our bags, we headed back downtown to grab dinner and drinks. Everyone in the service industry was so helpful and nice. The tram driver even announced over the intercom system, “Ladies! This is your stop!” Our waiter at dinner sat down with us to chat about his favorite bars and restaurants.

We enjoyed a vegetarian dish at dinner (asparagus, brie tempura and risotto terrine), with a couple of Amstel Lights (their main Holland beers are Amstel Light and Heineken—both breweries are in the city of Amsterdam) and finished it off with a slice of incredible apple pie.

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It was nice to splurge a little on a sit down dinner. We toasted to our amazing trip so far, and for being able to travel well together, even through the ups and downs of unexpected bumps in the road.

After dinner we went to see the Red Light District. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Women in windows beckoning you toward them. Men oogling them from the outside. It felt a little scandalous to watch the men open the doors/windows to pay a visit.

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There were erotic sex shops on every corner, live porno shows, and occasionally you could get a whiff of marijuana. But it was absolutely normal there, so it felt like just another night, not unsafe or scary in any way—just different. The people went about their evenings as usual, some making the late commute home from work still in business attire.

Amsterdam is breathtakingly gorgeous at night. The red lights reflect off the canal beautifully. It even started to rain a bit, which may seem like a disadvantage, but the windy streets and crooked houses over the rain-soaked streets made Amsterdam look like something out of a novel.

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We made it back to our place no trouble. The woman’s house we were staying at has small children, so we were being pretty quiet. Until Cori got a bloody nose. All over their white comforter. So between midnight and eight we spent all morning cleaning it. Needless to say, it all came out. Susie Homemakers over here!

That was about as close as we’ve gotten to avoiding any problems so far. And it’s only day six.

When we woke up in the morning, we borrowed some bikes from where we were staying. At first, we considered just following the tram line into town, not realizing that it goes underground, where the bike path doesn’t. These street names were outlandish (Zeeburgerdijk, Panamalaan, Whesperpleinstraat…a lot of double vowels). We navigated our way through town by memorizing the first five letters of streets.

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We also biked through Jordaan, the quaint art district just outside the main hub of streets and the Anne Frank House. It was considered a part of their old town, the streets were fairly empty and lined with flowers and bikes. The houses are all off-kilter and wonky. It’s very whimsical. Of course, we had to see the place with Jordan’s name 🙂

Amsterdam has more canals than Venice and about as many bikes as it does residents. Their bike culture is amazing. Bikes definitely outnumber cars, so it was fun to own the streets and cross wherever you’d like. They all knew where they were going so we had to do our best to fake it til we made it to our intended destinations. It was awesome to bike somewhere where the bike paths are just as important as the cars and people ring bells instead of honk at you if you’re in the way. Bikes lined the canal bridges, streets and roads. There was even a 4-story bike garage.

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The Dutch culture is pretty easy to loosely adopt. English was extremely common and there weren’t any crazy letters or signs we didn’t understand. Besides the ridiculously named streets. The Dutch people are also very beautiful. They were tall, healthy and always acted properly.

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Amsterdam is somewhere we truly wished we had more time to spend. No canal nor bike was like the other. You never know what’s around the corner.

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Always craving spontaneity,
C&J

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