My First Solo Trip Abroad Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love To Travel




NETHERLANDS will always have a special place in my travel memories as It was the first country I solo traveled to. It was the stepping stone to my solo adventures. It took me one year to travel there since I first thought about traveling there. Thanks to my visa adventures which deserves a separate postMy Air France flight had a layover in Paris. From Paris i catch the KLM flight to Amsterdam. 
Amsterdam From Above

My Hostel Entrance
The moment I stepped out of Amsterdam airport, it felt like I entered in this big freezer. It was chillingly cold. If that is a phrase. I visited Netherlands during Jan-Feb and I experienced cold (or should i say dry windy cold) after more than a decade because I lived in a place where we don't get a winter season! Even in my hostel room or any indoor spaces I don't feel like removing my jacket. It was surreal. I saw a dude jogging around in vondelpark wearing shorts and half sleeve t-shirt. I thought "WOW! Here I'm wearing layers and layers (even I lost count) of clothes and still going burr. This dude must be a superhuman!" A person traveling solo for the first time outside his country in an unknown cold place. I know it sounds all gloomy and bleak but thankfully it was nothing like that! 


Vondelpark



I learnt how crucial is Internet when you solo travel! Since i didn't bought a local Sim card, I rely on open Wi-Fis and on the kindness of strangers for directions and suggestions. Luckily, Dutch people are one of the friendliest people I have ever met. After a while i start enjoying asking directions from dutch people and almost every time i met with genuine smile and helpful nature. This one dude even went up to his 3rd floor apartment just to get his phone and helped me with the directions! Most dutch people speak good English. In places like Amsterdam it gets really difficult to identify between a local and a tourist since the city is swarmed with tourists. Best way to identify locals is to always approach people with bicycles. Dutch people love to cycle. They even have a separate lane for cyclists! 



To begin with i hate hate gambling. Any form of gambling. Worst kind of addiction. But i wanted to experience the same once in my life. So i went to Holland Casino in Amsterdam. I bought a 5 euro (yep!) chip. The lady at the counter looked at me twice. I wanna try my hand at roulette (thanks to cool moves i saw in zillion movies). Before betting i closely watch other people since I was a complete beginner. After watching several rounds, I finally bet on red pocket since ball drops in red pocket on all the previous occasions. And on my turn it dropped on black pocket. Well, it's good I hate gambling and that was the end of my career as a gambler. Nearby, I enjoyed watching people playing a game of chess. 




I bought a Holland Pass at 75 Euros which enables me to visit below six attractions (chosen by me among many other options) without any extra cost:

View from Canal Cruise Ride

Canal Cruise Ride was soothing for eyes as well as for ears. It was relaxing and interesting to listen to the history of Amsterdam. We navigate through Amsterdam via famous landmarks. It was little over 1 hour ride and i enjoyed it. I recommend taking the ride at night.
Heineken Factory

Heineken experience: It was informative, fun and cool experience. I had a good time. I really liked how they tried to show/explain little to little details about the beer making process and the Heineken history.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum: Even though I'm not into museums, i went there to just have an experience. It is a huge museum. Even a day is less to explore the whole museum properly. So much history there. Vast and different types of paintings, sculptures, models, ancient pieces. I came out quite overwhelmed.
Boom Chicago

Boom ChicagoI'm a big fan of stand up comedy and was really looking forward to see the show. It is an English improv comedy by an American group. I wouldn't say I loved it but I'm glad I had this experience. I liked how the group keep the audiences engaged into the show.

Graffiti from Body Worlds Exhibition
Body Worlds Exhibition: Exhibition explores the question "what is true happiness?" For each individual meaning and scope of happiness varies. It is an interesting topic to explore but to be honest I was really tired at that time and didn't enjoyed the exhibition.

Amsterdam dungeon: It was supposed to be a fun scary show divided into 8 segments. Overall it was underwhelming for me. Best to visit with kids.


First two things that comes to any young mind when we talk about Amsterdam is Weed and Red Light District since both are legal in Amsterdam. Here's my Experiences:




Space Cakes: First thing I noticed after entering my hostel's room was someone's nicely placed weed and pipe. It was quite tempting and i would have smoked that thing right there if I don't hate smoking so much. Just hate it. So, the only alternative to taste the weed was Space Cakes! As soon as i get my hands on space cakes, i want to eat it as soon as possible. I finally ate it on my last day in Netherlands.





It was kinda tasteless. Even though it says it will have a effect only after 1-1.5 hrs but took more than that. When the effect of space cakes finally kicked in, I find it bit hard to concentrate. I bought some unnecessary items at the exhibition's store. I was feeling hungry so I ate half a kilo French fries with ketchup. Bought some more things from another store. Rest of the night I spent walking around the city being stoned while listening to music buzzing through my earphones. When I reached my room I was fast asleep without even changing my clothes.Thankfully I put on an alarm a day before since I had an early morning flight to catch tomorrow!



Red Light District-- De Wallen
Red Light District: While navigating through cosy lanes I stumbled upon red light district. It was not much crowded as it was relatively early. Few ladies were out in glass chambers. Whole street were illuminating with fluorescent lights. This one shop has a big crowd. So I went inside and saw many youngsters waiting to see a Live peep sex show. 2 minutes for 2 euros. I decided to give it a try myself and it was one of the most unsexiest things I have ever seen: An old man and a woman were having sex in such a mundane and mechanical manner. I left within a minute and with this my red light district adventure comes to an end.



MY FAVOURITE EXPERIENCES

Side view of Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House: 
I had an emotional and enriching experience while visiting the Anne Frank House. It's like watching a beautifully constructed well intentional inspiring film. It ends with the montages of famous people talking about their experiences of visiting Anne Frank House. Really inspiring. I wrote this comment in their guest book. I quoted Kubrick "However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

Stadsschouwburg

Stadsschouwburg: One of the things I really wanted to do in Amsterdam was watch a play. Luckily, there was a stage adaptation of Woody Allen's film "Husbands and wives" playing at Stadsschouwburg. It was in Dutch with English surtitles. But the only problem was ticket's too costly. So I went there to see if any discount is possible. I reached the ticket counter zigzagging through the high-end restaurant. At the cash counter i met a really nice lady named Myrthe. We talked about the play and Woody Allen's films. I asked for any possible discount and she gave me an awesome discount and a great seat. She was quite gentle and nice with me. I was very happy after proclaiming my ticket! At night i reached the theatre to catch the play. Stage was filled with furniture. Stage and Surtitles were clearly visible from my seat. From the moment play started I was completely absorbed by it. Sets, energy, performances, music, co-ordination were truly wonderful. It was an outstanding and exhilarating play. I had such a wonderful experience watching this play which I will cherish for long time.





Zaanse Schans: From Amsterdam Central Station I catch a bus to Zaanse Schans. It is a small quiet town. I get down at Zaanse Schans museum. The view was just breathtaking. There are many historic houses and windmills surrounded by water. I explored the neighbourhood and had a really good time while enjoying the nature. Peace of mind.


Film Eye Institute: View from the inside

Inside Bela Tarr Exhibition


Film Eye Institute: Spaceship-looking building

Film Eye Institute:  Since I'm a big Cinephile. A visit to Film Eye Institute was mandatory. After reaching Central station I took a ferry(free of charge) which took me to the other side of the IJ river. On the other side Film Eye institute building is situated. At that time they were showcasing Bela Tarr's films exhibition. I had only seen one of his films and was equally bored and fascinated by it. Inside exhibition, there was a huge tree mounted at the corner of the room with wind blowing and leaves flying all over the room representing one of the iconic scenes from his films. Followed with many dark rooms showcasing the clips from his iconic films. Scenes were quite moving and powerful. It was a fulfilling experience. I spent sometime at the restaurant which has the gorgeous view. 




Night Walks: Those night walks in Amsterdam are still reeling in my mind. Every night i used to walk back to my hostel which took anywhere between 15 to 35 minutes while listening to "Aazaadiyan" (Freedoms) song from the film "Udaan" (Flight) on a loop. Even today whenever i listen to this song, it reminded me of Amsterdam. 




Parting Thoughts: I experienced many things for the first time on this trip which made this trip even more memorable for me. I was touched by people's generosity. It's not like i met only good people. I came across few assholes too but there are more good people in the world than bad people. I always try to remember this. 
I discovered myself. Like someone said you don't just learn things about the place but about yourself too when you travel solo. 
I saw my own city with new perspective when i get back and realised how we under-appreciate the place we live in. 
Finally, I'm leaving you with one thought (pic below) which i read in Amsterdam and still trying to live my life by it.










If you have any questions, write them in the comments. I will answer them accordingly.

Comments

  1. No questions but one word AMAZING!

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  2. That was remarkable! The chess set was one of my absolute favorites. Was that just a fun thing to do outside or a part of the gambling experience from inside? Anne Frank experience must have been so powerful and moving. I love the quote you left for the guest book. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  3. I really enjoyed your post. I was so naive. Think Amsterdam was nothing but drugs and sex. Not being a smoker myself, and from California. I would like to visit Amsterdam now.
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  4. The Netherlands are wonderful. It’s definitely a place everyone should visit

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  5. Gorgeous photos you have. Well written post. well the birds and the road chess board looks amazing!

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  6. After reading this post...I am going to Netherlands

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  7. I like to read experiences like this :) (I have Netherlands on my plans btw) It reminds me the time I went abroad by myself the first time (before there were summer camps or voluntaries, but I'd had buddies). It was my stage in Ukraine. I exited the bus station very early in the morning. I had no smartphone, there was no public transportation schedule and mini buses used to go as they want :) I only could depend on random local people... But I've managed! I can imagine, how proud you were getting abroad just by yourself :) This satisfaction is amazing! You've definitely broadened your horizons :)

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  8. I am so glad you had such a wonderful experience in Amsterdam on your first solo trip. I vividly remember my first solo experience in Barcelona. Europe is so easy and great for your first solo experience.
    It is truly amazing how you learn how wonderful the majority of humans are when you travel. People often have a way of surprising you and showing love.
    As for what you did in Amsterdam, it looks like you had a wonderful adventure. I only went there for 8 hours and cant wait to return to explore the Heineken Factory and the Anne Frank Museum.

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  9. Amsterdam is endear to me equally for so many sweet memories I lived there. Love your pictorial post. In fact your pics say lot about this beautiful city.

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  10. reminds me of my travel in Japan, our first family trip abroad. Amsterdam is so beautiful and there are so many things this place can offer to solo traveler. I wanna be in this place soon.

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  11. Wow! Amsterdam, its beauty is such a rare one. If it's your first time solo abroad it must be terrying to be alone, but you surpassed it and had a great travel adventure. I have visited almost all of these places except the Zaanse Schanse that's a nice place.

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  12. That gigantic chess board is the first thing i noticed then went on to read the post. You really did have an fab time...Now i know where to go when i do visit Amsterdam...

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  13. That's an amazing experience. First solo trip will always remain etched in the memory and you have done a fantastic job to share it with the world! Here is to many more solo travels and adventures for you!

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  14. You have given such detailed account if Netltherland specially the capital city . An honest review will certainly help people planning to visit thete. An amazing city..
    God bless

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  15. You tried so many amazing things! Solo travel is always a little nervewracking at first, but now it's my favorite way to travel.

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  16. Oh! I love the details in your writing. The pictures are beautiful as well. I had so many thoughts as I was reading this post. I had never really wanted to go to the Netherlands until now. Nice!

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