The youth hostel I booked for my 20-year-old son, Jordan, and myself, is located in the heart of the red light district of Amsterdam.
What an experience walking through the streets at midnight, and seeing beautiful young women in minuscule bikinis, standing behind glass windows offering their services.
As a mother, I couldn’t help but think:
- How sad for young women to sell their bodies
- How sad for the mothers of these young women
- I hope they’re warm behind these windows. It’s freezing outside
It reeks of weed everywhere, especially in our hostel. The narrow, winding staircase, proved to be a major workout with my 50- pound suitcase, and a backpack. I asked for a quiet room, and was allocated one on the 3rd floor, with a shared toilet and shower.
It wasn’t quiet all night. I guess, I’m roughing it, as far as a middle-aged, western woman, however, I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have a twin bed and central heating.
We checked in the “Old Nickel” youth hostel at 4 p.m., after our 3-hour train ride from Paris to Amsterdam, on the comfortable, Thalys train from, Gare du Nord, Paris.
Amsterdam is quite the booming city, and our ten-minute walk from Central Station to the hostel–with suitcases and backpacks–proved to be quite a “gutsy” adventure, especially timing the crossing of the streets, attempting to avoid trams, bicyclists, cars, and people.
“Location, location: the Nickel will appeal to everyone looking for a simple place to crash after a red-light romp. Go up (and up and up) the steep stairs from the historic, well-stocked pub, and you’ll find clean no-nonsense rooms, all bathrooms shared. Rates include a big cooked breakfast and drop sharply during the week.”
Instead, I focused on the fact that the hostel is, supposedly, only a 3-minute walk from the Central Station of Amsterdam. I guess if you have no luggage, and know where you’re going, you can jog in 3-minutes.
One of the reasons I picked Amsterdam, was to meet my friend, Ubit. I have not seen Ubit since 1974 when we were at boarding school together in the UK.
Ubit hasn’t changed, and we reconnected instantly. She said a couple of things that made me happy, as I had forgotten what I was like in boarding school.
“Sonia, you were always the one who asked the teacher questions. None of us had the courage to ask the strict teachers what you asked.”
I took that as a compliment, and it reinforced the concept of being “gutsy,” even when I was seventeen.
Ubit took us to her friends who have a bike shop called, Starbikes rental. Dan from Australia, and his partner, Linda, from Holland, specialize in bike rentals, and even offer a way for people in wheelchairs to ride a bike.
We decided to take a bike rental tour of Amsterdam. I think this may be a fabulous way to see the city, as long as I follow the Dutch bike rules. At least we’re not in the U.K. where they ride on the left side of the street.
More news later….