Well what seemed like forever to get here finally did and I was really excited for a few reasons.  First, I was going to Amsterdam for the first time.  Been wanting to do that for years and finally got the opportunity.  Second, I was going to make my trip up there by high speed rail.  And third, needed a break.

So the day comes to take my trip so off I go to the main train station in downtown Stuttgart.  I find my train, carriage and seat, located in first class of course, and sit down.  As it turned out, my carriage on the train was empty except for me so I had a nice, comfortable and enjoyable ride to the German/Netherlands border where I changed trains.  The first train was super clean, nice and had WI-fi on it so I could update things.  The second train, while nice, was missing the warmth and WI-fi and just seemed to be ok.  I know, I'm complaining about a first class train that had no WI-fi or stupid stuff like that.  I was on my way to Amsterdam.

I started seeing the lights of the city and was getting excited with each passing moment until we finally pulled into the station.  I got off the train and made my way out of the station only to find I had no idea where I was heading.  It was midnight and the place was crazy packed full of people on bikes, trams carrying people and cabs.  I made my way to the Metro and got on a train that took me near my hotel, where I walked a couple of blocks to it and checked in.  I got to my spacious room on the third floor of this very nice hotel and got cleaned up and went outside to explore. 

By this time it was almost 1 am and the streets were packed full of people drinking, smoking pot and waiting to get into clubs and also at walk up restaurants.  It was very much insane and after a while, reminded me of more like Spring Break than anything.  Everywhere I looked I saw people with beers in their hands and also joints.  The smell of pot in the air was almost overwhelming.  I made my rounds through the city and even stumbled across the famed Red Light District.  It wasn't what I was expecting but I'm not sure if I was expecting anything.  After having what seemed like every prostitute knock on her glass window for me to come in, I just shook my head and kept walking by, I found an Irish Pub where i was able to sit down and have a Guinness.  I also grabbed a few slices of pizza a few shops later and finally headed back to my room by 3 am.

I awoke to thunder and rain and looked out the window and saw gray skies.  I was hoping it would pass and stupid me left my jacket in Germany.  I ended up leaving the hotel around 10 am and walked out into a slight drizzle.  I was OK with that but after some touring by foot through the floating flower markets and other places, I got a Red Bus ticket and was going to catch a tour but that's when the floodgates opened and a torrential downpour ensued along with gale force winds that caused the entire city to shut down.  No buses, no boats, no trams, no trains throughout the day.  I ended up going back to my hotel and waited.  Not very happy about the weather as it said nothing about this when I looked.  Finally, about 3 hours later, near 8 pm, the weather cleared and I went out again to try to get some late tours throughout the city.  After also doing some night touring and getting some cool pics, I grabbed something to eat and called it a night around 1 am.

Sunday morning was beautiful.  But of course it was as I was leaving at 2:30 pm.  I got up early and was able to jump on a Red Bus Tour and saw some more interesting places of Amsterdam like Anne Franks house and learned why some of the houses appeared to be leaning.  I saw the last windmill located there and had a decent time.  If only I would have had more of it.  I wanted to take a canal boat tour but they were so crowded and my train was leaving before I could have made it back to the station so I didn't do that and hopped on my train.

This is where the trip got really fun.  The first train I was on got into the fist station late so I missed my connecting train.  I talked to the information guy and found a train heading to Cologne so I jumped on that and it too was late getting in so I found a train to Heidelberg and then jumped on a train to Mannheim.  On my way to Mannheim, I encountered my first train person who was asking for tickets and when I showed her mine, she said I didn't belong on that train.  I explained it was because of my first train being late that I missed my other ones so I was trying to get back to Stuttgart any way I could.  After a few minutes she finally relented and said good luck.  Once in Mannheim, I found a train to Tubingen and figured I could find a way back to Stuttgart from there since it was pretty close.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out the next stop was going to be Stuttgart Central so I made it back after only 8 hours and only 5 trains.  I took the train from the station to my stop and walked the half mile to my apartment.  What a day.

So I made it to Amsterdam and back so I can check that off.  While it is an interesting city, I don't think I'll be going back there.  There really wasn't anything that made me feel like I missed out while I was there so I think I'll just look forward to another adventure.

Until then...

Bill out