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Amsterdam and the Tale of the Stolen Wallet

I've been putting off this post for a few days because there's so much to tell! 

This past weekend, Mary and I went on our first excursion! We decided on Amsterdam because its included in the Eurail pass we bought and some friends from ISA were also going. We packed a lot in to the weekend, so I'm going to separate my stories out day by day.

Day 1, Satuday:

Since I have class until 6:30 on Fridays, we decided to take the Train in Saturday morning. It would work out well because our other friends were taking the night bus Friday night and getting in Saturday morning. We didn't make concrete plans to meet up (mistake #1) but instead figured our phones would work (mistake #2) and that we would figure it out when we got there.

Our train Left at 8AM so we got up at 6:30, got croissants to eat on the train, and got cash out to use for our weekend. We each budgeted €250 and I had €85 that I purposely saved for Amsterdam from the previous week. I left my €150 food money for the next week in our apartment. When we got to the Train Station we had to activate our Eurail passes and then got on the train. 

The start of our first adventure!

Train selfies

Even though we paid over €300 for the pass, we still had to pay a reservation fee of €69 for seats on the train. We changed trains in Brussels, and that train didn't have a reservation fee for Eurail pass holders so we just found seats and sat down. Everything seemed fine until the next stop, when a man came over and told us that we were in his seat. It turns out that if you get on a train that doesn't do reservations then you have to hope someone without a Eurail pass didn't buy a normal ticket with the seat number you're sitting in. I ended up having to move seats twice and spent the last 40 minutes standing in front of the WC. Not awesome.  

Anyways, we got in to Amsterdam around 11:30 and the first thing we saw was Starbucks. FREE WIFI!! We ordered lattes, sat down and tried to figure out where our Hostel, Shelter City, was. 

Latte art at Starbucks!?

We finished our lattes and were about to leave the station when we saw Burger King. And they had curly fries. Obviously we had to get some and it was the best decision we had made that day. For those of you from USC, the fries are a perfect imitation of Chicken Finger Wednesday fries. 


How do you say BK lounge in Dutch?

We finally made it out of the train station and started walking to the hostel. 

Such a beautiful train station

On the way, we saw the I AMSTERDAM letters, a Chinese New Year Parade and an outdoor flea market. We stopped to take pictures with the letters, tried to catch up to the parade and bought a souvenir or two at the market. We then went and dropped our bags off a the hostel and tried to meet up with Julianne and Campbell, who we had persuaded into coming to Amsterdam with us last minute. Unfortunately, no one knew how to use our French phones while roaming so the whole weekend no one could get in contact with anyone else without wifi. 

I love markets!

I amsterdam

God Loves You!!

Our beds

We tried to meet Jules and Campbell at our hostel but they got lost and we got bored so we just started walking around outside and exploring. It turns out that Shelter City, a Christian hostel, is literally in the Red Light District. I guess I didn't fully understand what the Red Light District was, so imagine my surprise when we're walking down the side street that our hostel is on and I look to my left and see 3 almost naked girls standing inside glass doors! Then I remembered that prostitution is legal and was less shocked when we turned the corner and saw lots of RLD-esque shops. 

The red lit windows on our street

The rest of our self guided walking tour was less sex shows and more snow. It turned into a full on blizzard and Mary and I got covered in snow. 

The Nemo looming out of the fog

Yay we found Moes!

One of the many canal bridges

But seriously look at the snow flakes...

I may or may not have tried a "space cake" here

We decided to seek refuge and get coffee at a shop. We ordered, sat down and were enjoying our treat when a sketch couple sat between our table and the table next to us. They kept staring at us and being awkward so we left. We walked around some more and then decided we wanted a treat at a cafe. I was about to pay for my croissant when I realized my Wallet was gone... 

Mary and I then spent the next 2 hours frantically searching every street in Amsterdam for the shop we had just left. We finally found and I went in, hoping someone turned in my wallet or that it would still be sitting on the bench. No such luck. 

Scene of the crime

Devastated, we walked back to our hostel and met up with our other friends staying there, Meg, Nora, Haley and Danica. I cancelled my credit/debit cards and was planning on going home but I missed the last train so I decided I would leave the next morning. Mary and I went to get dinner and planned to meet up with the girls at 9. We got pizza near the place that I lost my wallet so I went back in to see if it had magically turned up in the last 2 hours. No such luck. Thankfully my mom was really helpful and told me not to let the thieves have the satisfaction of ruining my weekend. Mary generously offered to let me borrow money until I get a new debit card, and so me, Mary, Meg, Nora, Haley and Danica met up with Matt and hung out at the bar underneath his hostel, Durty Nellys. They (and my dad) convinced me to stay until Sunday night because I was already there and we still had a lot of fun things to do. 

Amsterdam is so pretty at night

Just playing with the swans

Group pic!


Day 2: Sunday

We started our morning by getting free pancakes/crepes at our hostel and then met up with Matt. Our first activity of the day was going to the Anne Frank House. I've always been extremely interested in the Holocaust so I was really excited to be able to see this part of history. The house is converted into a museum with replicas of how each room was furnished so you could get a real feel of what it was like to live there. The bookcase that hid the annex from the rest of the house is the original, and they had the real diaries that Anne kept. Interview with Otto Frank and other people who knew her played on tv screens and were exceptionally moving. 

Totally worth the €9

Snuck a pic of the location

After the tour of the house, we decided to visit the Grasshopper because it was recommended to Meg that we try it. We then walked to the Van Gough Museum. On our way we took pictures with the I AMSTERDAM letters, which was wicked cool. 

The famous Grasshopper

Posing with our treats

Nora, me and Mary


When we got to the museum and as we were standing in line, I was checking my email when I saw a message entitled: Wallet? I quickly clicked on it and freaked out when I read that someone had found my wallet! It was in a town 40 minutes away on a bench, probably discarded after the people who stole it got the cash out. I emailed her back right away asking how I can get it back. The next hour waiting for her reply was the longest hour of my life. I couldn't even concentrate on the Van Gough paintings because I was so anxious. She finally responded that she would be at the train station at 8AM the next morning. That was the best news I've had all semester. 

I almost cried in the Van Gough museum #embarassing

That night we got dinner at a cute Italian restaurant then went back to Durty Nellys for some dranks. The girls were leaving on the bus that night, but Matt, Mary and I were staying until Monday night. We said goodbye to Meg, Nora, Haley and Danica, then went back to the hostel.

Our last group picture

Day 3: Monday

Mary is a saint and got up at 7:30 to walk with me to the train station in 10 degree weather to get my wallet back. I was scared that it could be a scam (thanks, Pat), so I didn't want to go alone. It wasn't, thankfully, and the lady, Tanja, is seriously the nicest person ever. She saw my Carolina Card in my wallet and went out of her way to go to USC's online directory to look my email address so she could get my wallet back to me. There wasn't any money in it, obviously, but am glad to have my license, Carolina Card, insurance cards etc. back. I thankfully left that €150 in my apartment so at least I have that, but I'm anxiously awaiting my new cards in the mail so I can pay Mary back. 

When we got back to the hostel we ate french toast and checked out. We met Matt at Dam Square to do a free walking tour of Amsterdam. I wish we had done this at first because it was really informative and helps you see lots of Amsterdam besides the famed RLD. 

Snow makes everything prettier

Dam square 

A few highlights from the tour:

Almost all the houses have a hook at the top and a door instead of a window below the roof. This is so that the owners of the house are able to get big items like furniture to the upstairs rooms. The stairs in Amsterdam buildings are almost at a 90 degree angle with steps that are tiny. They would tie the furniture up and use the hook as a pulley system to hoist the item up to the top floor.

Two examples of the hook/door system

Since there are a lot of canals in Amsterdam, most of the houses aren't on a solid foundation so they lean. A lot of houses though, lean forward. This is also to do with the pulley system. If there was ever a big gust of wind, it would be very easy for the furniture to go smashing through a window. If you lean the house forward a little bit, though, the wind cant blow it through the window!

There was supposed to be a law passed starting January 1st of this year that said only permanent residents of Amsterdam could buy marijuana at coffee shops. There was a huge uproar against it by everyone, but especially the police(!). Their reasoning? It would greatly increase violence in the area. Since the coffee shops are primarily visited by tourists (less than 5% of locals regularly smoke MJ), they would go out of business and most likely turn into bars. As of right now, the RLD, which is where most shops are located, is one of the safest areas in the city. Stoned people don't want to start fights, they just want to be high and left alone. Putting bars in, however, would make the RLD dangerous because of all the drunken violence it would cause.

I would highly recommend the tour. Its free but they run on tips so you definitely should give a good one. After the tour, Matt, Mary and I went to the famous Pancake Bakery. Their pancakes are like crepes and they have all different types of fillings. I got apple and cheese and it was delicious! 

I could go for one of these right now

We then walked back to Dam Square and did a little shopping for souvenirs, a new scarf and some chocolate. 

Sniff cacao...

Doin' a line of chocolate

 Matt getting in on the action

Mary and I left around 7 on a nonstop train from Amsterdam to Paris (with reservations!!). It was a great experience in a great city and we definitely caught the travel bug: we're already planning our next trip!

This post first appeared on Paris, Je T'aime, please read the originial post: here

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Amsterdam and the Tale of the Stolen Wallet


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