Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A solo traveler.

I almost forgot about my experience travelling alone in Amsterdam, Budapest and Edinburgh until one of my cousins brought up the story. All my uncles and aunties asked me all sorts of questions. For them, I'm always a fragile girl and can't do anything on my own. -.-' I told them some of my friends had traveled around Europe and South Africa alone. What I did was just a pinch of  it and one day I want to travel to North America alone. Then, one of my cousins said, "Dah laki kau nanti kau nak tinggal mana ?"  and that question was left hanging in the air. I can hear glass cracking sound effect in my head. heh.

Day 2 in Netherlands. ( a continuation from this post Day 1)

A day before I went to Amsterdam I googled 'things to do in Amsterdam'. I found one website showing 20 unconventional things to do and one of them was jogging along the canals in Amsterdam. I thought it's a good and healthy idea. So, I brought my trainers with me. After subuh, around 7.00 a.m I went out to run ( as expected, I ended up walking). It was so nice and apparently not so unconventional things to do  because many other travelers decided to run too. The road was so clear you can do gangnam style dance without getting hit by a car or tram.
See! No cars or bicycles and it was 7:30 a.m.

There are still 200 houseboats in Amsterdam. The waterlines here are filled with houseboats forcing the city council to adopt policy limiting the number of houseboats. There are many nice houseboats hotels around Amsterdam if you are up for it. 
This is the last canal before I ran back to my hotel because I was so hungry. If you look up, most of the buildings here have gables and hooks and they are not there just for decoration. Since the stairs are very steep in every building, people here use hooks to enable them bring in furniture or large items into the buildings. The church in the picture above is the oldest church in Amsterdam. I ran with a Dutch. He told me this stuff. I won't look up to see gables and hooks if he didn't ask me to. Seriously, who wants to look up while running with a good looking Dutch man? Heh.

Next, breakfast time. 

I went out again for a half-day tour to Zaanse-Schans, Marken and Volendam. I booked the tour online. It is easier and safer to book online because sometimes the tour bus could be fully booked and it is safer because you don't have to bring a lot of cash with you. Plus, you can plan your itinerary earlier. I can be a very hardcore planner. So, I booked all the tours online including hop-on and hop-off bus and cruise ticket. You know the places you want to go and things you want to do beforehand. For a solo traveler it is actually so much easier and safer to book everything online.

Anyway, Zaanse-Schans is a countryside and it is only 20 minutes away from Amsterdam. It is a small village along Zaan river and famous with its tidy green houses and working windmills. It is just 20 minutes away from Amsterdam but the landscape is totally different. I can smell Milo in the air because of the chocolate factories there. Swans and ducks in the river and pretty windmills along the river gave me the picture of what it must have been like. I'm not a big city person, so I fell in love with Zaanse-Schans instantly. Plus, the weather, Mashaallah, was so nice and sunny that day.

It used to be a working windmill and now it is a house! 
A family is actually living in this windmill. 

 Every house owns a boat. 
I had to tebalkan muka and asked a random people to take my photo.

Our tourist guide. She comes from Columbia and now married to a Dutch man. I'm a huge fan of Modern Family series. She reminded me of Gloria (Sofia Vergara) because of her accents.

The first supermarket in Amsterdam.

Just like those houses I used to draw when I was a kid in kindergarten.

Some of the houses here were literally moved from another places just to preserve Dutch architectural heritage. 

 All of the windmills here are industrial windmills which means they are not used to pump water or generate energy.

 It was so awkward because more than 10 people were watching me. Well, they were actually waiting to take my spot to take photo of themselves too. -.-'

Then, we headed to another village to see how wooden clogs are made. The Dutch have been wearing the wooden clogs or they call it klompen long time ago to protect their feet and keep them dry. 

Free clog making demonstration by this pakcik. 

Nothing much to see here other than the clogs. We spent less than one hour here before heading to Volendam where you could find all the Ducth cliches like wooden shoes (again), traditional costumes and my favorite, the cheese factory called Cheese Factory Volendam. One of the locals told me, if you come to Holland but you don't visit Volendam, your life is not complete. He just wanted to say that Volendam is a must visit place. over tau pakcik tu sampai hidup tak sempurna gitu. haha. 
 Volendam is a fisherman village which is best explored by walking. You can walk between the houses here that compete for a trophy for the best window decoration. I was told that they have that competition every year here. So cute! How I wish we could have windows like this in Malaysia. Thanks to ugly window grilles we have in Malaysia!

My favorite place of all. I can live in this cheese factory. I tried all kinds of cheese until I burped and it smelled like cheese. They have free demonstration on how they make cheese here. They said, making cheese is not just a process, but it is an art. Well, when you think again, it is an art. It starts as milk then, after a few processes it becomes a tasty slice on your bread.See,it is an art. Get it? No? Me too. 

I bought a few slices of cheese here and ate them while watching movies in my hotel room later that night. Some women prefer chocolate, I prefer cheese. 

A house here worth 1.5 millions euro. You know, in case, you want to buy a house here.

After that, I went back to Amsterdam and.... I'm too lazy to continue writing about it. Till then. Chow! 

P.s : While writing this, I'm eating buah durian belanda. I totally forgot what we call it in English, so I asked my dad and he said Dutch durian. Fair enough.  -.-' It's soursop!


Anonymous said...

I want more. I want more.

Anonymous said...

i would like to travel alone too but I don't like backpacking. I can see you were not 'backpacking' too. any tips?

NA said...

it depends on how you define backpacking. yes, i didn't carry a backpack because i just don't like it. but backpacking for me is a form of cheap,independent travel. you stay in a hostel,you bring your own food n you choose the cheapest mode of transportation. I did all of that but I didnt carry a backpack. I like the idea of backpacking but I dont like a backpack. haha. now i'm confusing you. tips? I only traveled alone to 3 cities in europe so far, so i dont think I'm the right person to give you tips. anyhow, choose a strategic and safe (and cheap) hotel or hostel to stay if you want to travel alone and plan your itinerary before you start your 'adventure'.