“One of the best experiences of your life”, “you can't miss it”, “it's something you won't regret”, “meeting people from other countries and traveling throughout Europe”, etc. We have all heard these or similar phrases more than once when we talk to someone who has gone on Erasmus or has had the opportunity to study abroad. And they are not misguided. Studying in another country for a semester or a year opens your mind and offers a range of possibilities that you cannot miss.
Since my stay in Groningen (Netherlands), I have had the opportunity to travel and learn about other travel models that are worth sharing. One of the most notable cities and it was my first destination is Amsterdam.
What to see
Built between canals, it gives the feeling of being a northern Venice covered in clouds and surrounded by flowers. The red light district, the royal palace, the flower market, the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house are the most emblematic places in the city. During the walk from one place to another you can find real gifts such as second-hand shops, artistic facades, galleries and, near the red light district, the “Condonerie”, with condoms of all shapes and colors.
The Dutch are characterized by their height and open mind. Open because it can be said that you are allowed to freely do what you want without being looked at strangely, as long as it does not affect the freedom of other people, or their bikes. In this small country, there are more bicycles – around 18 million – than people, around 16 million. However, the coexistence between this type of people and tourists is very well developed and you can even take guided tours in this vehicle.
Another characteristic of Dutch culture is the legality of soft drugs that can be purchased in coffee shops. Many of them allow smoking but you must consume at least something from the menu.
In the center of Amsterdam you can find many junkies who sell stronger drugs but they are prohibited and can even be sold under other names.
Last November, 3 young people died from using heroin thinking they had bought cocaine
The Netherlands is not known for its low prices and transport in this case is no exception. If you feel up to it, it is much more advisable to walk everywhere since Amsterdam is not very big compared to other big cities like Paris. In any case, if you prefer to take the tram or bus, the single ticket costs 2.80 euros per hour.
Another advisable means of transport is bicycles, renting a bike for the whole day costs 7-8 euros including insurance.
During my trip to Amsterdam I only stayed one night through couchsurfing. This is a travel model where globetrotters contact their hosts via the web and agree on the number of nights they will stay, free of charge. The philosophy of the project seeks the exchange of experiences and trust so it is not necessary to pay for it as it is enriched in friendships and stories. The time I stayed in Amsterdam I was able to share dinner with a Hungarian couple who had met in London and who had many curious stories to tell.