Any other loners out there?
April 29, 2006 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Should I go to Amsterdam by myself? Do you have experience traveling by yourself? What do I need to know to prepare for this trip?

I'm in Paris. I want to go to Amsterdam, I have no one to go with. I've been there before, but only for a short time when I was 18. I'm 21, F, and will probably stay in a youth hostel. I want to just go for two nights (Thursday and Friday). I will want to do things like go see the Rembrandt Carvaggio exhibtion at the Rijks museum , smoke weed, and maybe bike around the city. I'm not scared to be alone, I just want to make sure I have a good time, and I don't want to be that creepy person by herself at bars and what not. Also, any reccomendations on what to do?
posted by Packy_1962 to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, The Netherlands (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Rembrandt Carvaggio exhibtion at the Van Gogh museum
posted by Packy_1962 at 2:52 AM on April 29, 2006

Having travelled to Amsterdam with family, I can attest to the fact that it is a superb place to go alone. It's Europe's city of sin, remember, home of more prostitutes, sex shops, coffeeshops and other things of dubious morality than anywhere else on the continent.

As for wanting to see art: don't go during the summer - the museums and galleries are always packed to the brim. And don't bother with the travel guides - most of the English travel guides I looked at were inaccurate compared to what could be found out by Googling, phoning or asking the hotel reception. This is especially true with some of the museums which have moved around in the last year (the Stedilijk modern art museum is undergoing renovation and most of the collection is in storage).

The public transport system is very convenient - but buy a "stripkarteen" to save money. I found that trams took me just about everywhere I wanted to go, and it's much quicker and cheaper than the Underground here in London (not difficult: the Underground is one of the most expensive systems in the world).
posted by tommorris at 3:24 AM on April 29, 2006

I love traveling alone. You do what YOU want and have a sort of spirtual experience, for me at least.
posted by k8t at 3:59 AM on April 29, 2006

You could get this card. Free entrance to all major museums, free transportation, a canal cruise, all for less than 50 Euros.

Amsterdam is full of people coming here from everywhere. I'd be extremely surprised if you'd stay alone for long.
posted by dhoe at 4:23 AM on April 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

... but buy a "stripkarteen" to save money.

Actually, it's called a "strippenkaart"; pronounce as strippencard and they will probably understand what you're after.
posted by koenie at 4:37 AM on April 29, 2006

In terms of traveling alone, two nights in Amsterdam is so not a big deal. The one thing you should realize in traveling alone is that at times you might feel alone or feel intimidated. Everybody does. You are after all alone in some new strange environment and you only have yourself to rely on. Going through these moments, while a bit tough, is a wonderful opportunity to grow and develop trust in yourself.

From a practical perspective, staying at a youth hostel is a very easy way to meet fellow travelers to hang out with if you want, many of whom are also traveling on their own and would welcome the company. Also, most people you meet traveling are actually happy to talk with you, tell you about themselves, and learn about you.. so the world is actually a friendlier place.
posted by blueyellow at 4:56 AM on April 29, 2006

Sorry koenie, my lack of Dutch and my shocking lack of long-term memory produced a rather mangled strippenkaart.
posted by tommorris at 4:58 AM on April 29, 2006

I hate travelling alone. However, one place I really enjoyed visiting alone was The Netherlands. Very friendly place. Watch out where you go alone at night in Amsterdam though. I think you would do well, especially being female, to avoid the sin districts at night. Your travel guide and others here might have more insight on that. Other than that one caveat, I think you would be hard pressed to find better places to travel alone, it is relatively safe, filled with many other lone travellers and the natives are an especially friendly lot.
posted by caddis at 5:11 AM on April 29, 2006

I've gone to Amstedam alone every year for the past 5 or so, for a 4 or 5 days. (It's a very cheap EasyJet hop from here in GB). It's perfect place for being alone, I'd say. I'm in my 50s, M, a college teacher and Amsterdam is a perfect place to get away from my job and family (with their blessng) for a few days to rediscover myself. And no, I'm not going to brothels -- and getting very, very stoned on GM weed is no longer my idea of fun.

With all respect to the people above I'd forget about the Tram cards etc because it's actually easy to WALK to just about everywhere you'd want to be (or, yes, hire a bike) and walking is a real pleasure there - I take a camera and a notebook and there is constantly something wonderful to notice if you are moving slowly enough- reflections on the canals, crazily decorated bikes, cats in the windows of exquisitely decorated canal-side flats, surreal decorated graffiti and stickers, great record shops, art galleries etc. (There's some really good photographic galleries if that's what you're into).

Anyway, being alone is not a problem there. Everyone is very friendly and you certainly won't be the only single person in the bars or cafes - I've sat for hours reading or sketching or just watching the world go by.

God, I want to go again! It's probably best to avoid the red light areas and (*blush*) any large groups of young men from my country who will probably be drunk and obnoxious, sorry.
posted by peterbl at 5:24 AM on April 29, 2006

I'm glad I read this thread. People have made me feel weird for enjoying traveling alone; I'm glad to know I'm not alone ... in enjoying traveling alone.
posted by jayder at 7:39 AM on April 29, 2006

(self link) Travelling alone in Amsterdam - complete step-by-step instructions. Also, don't let the garbage can suckers freak you out - they are herbivorous and, so far as I can gather, benign.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:44 AM on April 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

When I travel alone, I often feel shy about eating dinner alone, and a little shy and concerned about safety when going to concerts, plays, etc., in the evening. So I often reverse my normal night person habits, and eat my nicest meal at lunch, which feels fine, and is often less expensive. For dinner, I go someplace that's very casual, and which may be friendlier. I've heard that Amsterdam is quite easy for those of us who don't speak Dutch, and do speak English. Go, have fun.
posted by theora55 at 7:53 AM on April 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Rookies was a pretty sweet coffee shop. They had a bunch of public bongs and a quality herb selection. There was karaoke at The Bulldog. Cafe de Koe on Marnixstraat has Scrabble. I'm sorry you have no one to go with :(
posted by ludwig_van at 7:58 AM on April 29, 2006

I've heard great things about the Flying Pig Hostel. Don't be scared about not knowing what to do: you'll meet loads of backpackers during your journey.
posted by koenie at 8:00 AM on April 29, 2006

I stayed at the Flying Pig Uptown. It was good and bad. It had free internet (with microphones and skype) and a cozy little bar where you could meet people and smoke weed. But we ended up in a room with 16 beds despite expecting one with 4. There was light and noise all night, and one day they were using a belt sander in the hall at 8 AM. The people that worked there were cool though.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:10 AM on April 29, 2006

I stayed at the Flying Pig and it was pretty nice. I felt like I was in a teen comedy when I showed up alone and they put me in a room with four beautiful South American girls. I was meeting a college friend who was staying in a real hotel, so I stayed with her most of the weekend, but the time I spent at the Flying Pig was enjoyable. They had a sort of community area near the front that was filled with pillows and bongs.

Also, I arrived very early in the morning and had to walk around for about 6 hours before the hostel opened up. I got way off track and felt scared a couple times, but that was my own fault. Other than that, I felt very safe.

Finally, I like traveling alone as well, so don't feel weird. I enjoy meeting strangers when I travel and also having personal experiences that are mine alone.
posted by Falconetti at 8:13 AM on April 29, 2006

I have heard good things about the Flying Pig as well. I'm really glad to see that you like to travel alone as well. One can definitely learn more about themselves by doing so. Kudos!
posted by thesiameseffect at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2006

If you go ahostelin' take a good padlock.
posted by trondant at 10:10 AM on April 29, 2006

I was there, alone, a few years ago for three days. I'd start by renting a bike, as it's by far the best and most fun way to get around.

The Van Gogh museum is a must-see, regardless of the time of year. There might be a line-up but it moves quickly.

Get a blanket and pack a lunch with some wine and a good book and spend a lazy afternoon in the Vondelpark. Great place for people watching, too.

I agree with the hostel suggestion. When travelling alone and want to go out I'll often sit in the hostel lobby around 6-7 pm and will invariably meet up with a few other solo people who want to go out, too. I'm shy with strangers but eating/drinking out alone makes me feel very self-conscious. I've had some great nights out in various European cities by simply introducing myself to people.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:44 AM on April 29, 2006

Is there a maximum age for staying in a Hostel?

I'm actually considering travelling to europe by myself too, and just turned 28 recently... Am I "too old" at this point and need to get a hotel?

[i don't wanna waste space on the frontpage of askme when my target audience is already reading this thread...]
posted by twiggy at 10:50 AM on April 29, 2006

I spent a week alone in Amsterdam when I was about your age. It's a very good city for that. The inner city is small and the channels go through in half-circles. Memorize their order and navigation becomes very easy.

And twiggy, 28 is not too old to stay at hostels. Most places don't have an age limit, it's more a question about whether you're comfortable. There is typically a crowd of 18-year-old Backpackers who consider themselves very alternative and say things like "Take only pictures, leave only footprints", and talk about why they'd be good as writers for the Lonely Planet. I find that a bit annoying, but you're likely to find people of all sorts, and a bunch who are older than you too.
posted by springload at 11:23 AM on April 29, 2006


I'm 30 and have stayed at hostels the last few years no problem whatsoever. Most people peg me as younger, however. TMMV. It's more how you act than how old you look. I've been in hostels with people in their 60s and 70s.

One thing I do, however (especially in 'party' towns) is reserve a bed in a smaller room, or even an individual room. I'm not too much of a stay-out-til-5 guy anymore.

You can usually get a single room for 30-40 euros in most places, which is about 1/3rd of what it would cost in a proper hotel. I don't mind sharing washrooms. It's great for getting good sleep.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:59 AM on April 29, 2006

Is there a maximum age for staying in a Hostel?

The Flying Pig is a youth hostel, so they do have an age limit, but as I recall it's 40, so you're ok... for now.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:01 PM on April 29, 2006

People by themselves in pubs are not creepy, just by themself. Eccentricity and solitude are not yet social crimes in Europe, like they are in certain other parts of the world. You really don't need anyone's approval to enjoy your own company.
posted by ori at 12:12 PM on April 29, 2006

Having traveled a lot by myself, the key to having a good time alone is.. being comfortable having a good time alone. Don't worry about what anyone thinks, don't feel scared to ask directions in whatever language you can, don't panic if you get lost, or if you eat every meal & go to every bar solo--let everything be part of the experience. The more confident you feel, the more people will respect you no matter what silly predicament you may (but, face it, probably won't!) get yourself in.

Also, if you're not really a partier, consider staying with someone from Hospitality Club or Global Freeloaders. You'll get a free place to stay & a much more personal, intimate view of the city.
posted by soviet sleepover at 1:36 PM on April 29, 2006

Of course you should go to Amsterdam, and you'll do fine even by yourself. Solo travel can be much easier than with a partner. However, I disagree with peterbl about walking everywhere. It's true, one can get by just walking, but the trams and the Metro (is its expansion still under construction?) speed things up, provide much-needed rest (if it's not rush hour, when you can't get a seat) and they're fun.
posted by Rash at 4:08 PM on April 29, 2006

I travelled by myself for six months and loved it. If you're staying in hostels, you're never really alone. I found myself hanging out with people from the hostel most of the time. And I even briefly travelled with someone I met in a hostel (but that didn't work out too well).

It's really easy to eat by yourself in cafes and pubs, and you're on your own schedule, which is nice.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:27 PM on April 29, 2006

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