"I AMsterdam" sign
After arriving first class on the train, we checked in to our hostel late Monday (10/22) afternoon and grabbed some food. Our first stop: the famous Amsterdam Red Light District. After a walk around the Red Light District, we found a carnival with rides, games, and fried dough in Dam Square and spent the night there.

Tuesday morning we boarded a bus tour of the city. On the tour we saw the Royal Palace, Dam Square, the Western Church, the Skinny Bridge, and Amsterdam's tallest windmill. We also stopped off at the famous Gassan Diamond factory where we learned about the different cuts and types of diamonds. Not quite my cup of tea, but the girls loved it.

After the bus tour, we headed over for a canal tour of the city. Amsterdam has a nickname of the "Venice of the North" because of its 60 plus miles of canals intertwined in the city. There are 90 islands and over 1,500 bridges connecting the streets. Due to a shortage of housing, many people live in house boats right on the canals. I wish I could say what we saw on the tour, but I was asleep for about 75% of it. Traveling is exhausting...

Seven bridges over the canals
After my nice boat nap, the group split up and I went to the Amsterdam Dungeon with a few other. The Dungeon is more or less a very impressive haunted house. They have actors that tell stories of Amsterdam's past while at the same time scarring the living day lights out of you for an hour and a half. That certainly woke me up.

After dinner at the hostel, we went back to the carnival. Some of us went on a ride called the "Ejection Seat" where you're strapped into a metal ball on the end of a sling shot and then shot way up into the air to fling and spin around. As if that wasn't enough, my friend Jeana and I went on another thrill ride that spins you around upside down and backwards (in front of the Ferris Wheel). We both regretting going on that one after the ride finished...
Ejection Seat
Never go on this ride...
Before our train to Berlin Wednesday at noon, we stopped by the "I amsterdam" statue around the corner from our hostel for the typical tourist photo. The letters are about 6 feet tall and we climbed all over them for the picture. We caught our train, only second class this time, and took off for Berlin!

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