I could have so easily fallen in love with Amsterdam. Like head-over-heels-I’m-not-getting-back-on-the-plane-but-daddy-I-love-him in love. Our Thursday flight got in late so by the time we were on the train into the city it was dark, and the city was alive with lights and colors as we passed through it. Amsterdam Central Station was huge and beautiful and walking out we made our way across the canal bridge, our first of probably a hundred over the weekend, to our friends hostel. The air was bitter cold and flakes of snow blew sharp into our faces, but I couldn’t have been happier. The city was crowded with different languages and races, all briskly walking throughout the cobblestone streets to grab falafel from a street stand or find a ‘coffee shop’ to spend a few hours in. We found the Amsterdam Central Hostel down an alleyway off a busy street filled with Nutella waffle stands, pizzerias and joints offering buckets of fries with mayonnaise, Amsterdam’s specialty.
Now if this all sounds so great, you’re probably wondering why I said I ‘could have’ fallen in love with Amsterdam. Well that’s next. When it was time to go home my group of 13 split up. The 3 staying in a hostel went to their way and the group staying in the air b&b with me divided into 2 groups; 1 that would stay in the city a few more hours and 1 that would go uber home (another thing to rejoice about! You don’t know how much we missed uber). I was apart of the set to go home first so, describing our location as ‘on a street with lots of lit up red and white balls stringing from one side to the other’ we called an uber and drove about 20 minutes outside of the city to the country. To be exact, it was a camping ground site with about 20 houses to the left of it. To describe this place as deserted is an understatement. I don’t know if you’ve ever done an airb&b before (I hadn’t) but you have to meet the ‘keyholder’ prior to getting in so he can take the security deposit, get you checked in and, obviously, give you the key. Well, since we wanted to stay in the city so long we had to have the keyholder put our key in a safe box that we assumed we would just pick up and go to our house. I refuse to revisit the events of that night because they were so stressful but about an hour, and a $100 uber, later we finally arrived in the little house near a canal. It was white, minimalist, and beautiful. There was a deck out back right on the canal that would have been perfect for warmer weather. Everyone eventually made it back home and all of us, deservedly, slept in the next day.
Friday morning we caught a bus into the city. And I really mean caught, we were basically running through the boonies to catch the 315 and he had to stop a little down the way for all of us to get on. We went to breakfast at this well known fantastic little place called Pancake Bakery. If you’re ever in the city you have to go. Nicole and I split a banana Nutella pancake (definitely more of a crepe) and a bacon-ham-and-cheese omelet. Did I also mention how much we missed breakfast food? Why do Greeks not do breakfast???
Anyway, from there we walked across the canal to the Cheese Museum, or better known as Heaven. I tried maybe 30 samples of different cheese. So much cheese! Next door to the Cheese Museum was the Tulip Museum. Mom, if you’re reading this, I was about to buy you a pack of beautiful purple somethings when the man working there said “if you’re going back to America with those you’re going to have to smuggle them in” If he hadn’t continued to talk about smuggling tulips for as long as he did I would have thought he was kidding. So, unfortunately, I decided against it. Either way, just know I was thinking about you in there!
Over the course of the day we visited various little shops and cafes and finally (were you waiting for this? Or maybe dreading it?) the Red Light District. And whoa is what I can say for that for that. Nicole and I visited the Museum of Prostitution which was about an hour walk through the lives of current prostitutes and the history of prostitution. It was equal parts sad, horrific, and interesting. I don’t have many family friendly facts I learned in there but I would recommend it, I really did learn a lot of things that you would never expect and it might change your judgment on a few things.
We got dinner in this weird little Chinese place where the tables were connected to the walls and you sat on little spinning stools and literally faced the wall while you ate. I sat next to a girl in my program and we shared spring rolls and dumplings.
Round 2 of stress with the airb&b: we tried to take the bus home only to result in every bus driver telling us that no bus goes to our area. Uber #2.
Saturday morning we woke up to a blizzard outside. Huge wet flakes fell on our walk to the bus station and by the time we sat on the bus all of our coats, purses and hats all looked like they had been used as shields in an intense snowball fight. Though it was below freezing and the tips of my fingertips and toes were burning, it did look so beautiful. I would even have to say prettier than Chicago after a heavy snow fall. We brunched at a small cafe near the Anne Frank Museum and sat in a booth by the window, watching the snow fall slowly on all the knit hats and umbrellas moving through the city.
Next was, bet you can guess, the Anne Frank Museum. We didn’t buy tickets in advance and they had sold out by the time we checked (you even told me to buy them earlier mom!! Ugh) but the wait wasn’t too bad. A few of our friends had hopped in line while we were on a canal ride so we only ended up waiting about 45 minutes. The Museum was absolutely mesmerizing. We got background information on all involved and we able to walk through the bedrooms, kitchen, the secret passageway, everything. They have even preserved the original posters and pictures Anne glued to her bedroom, it was very moving to be exactly where she stood.
And our last activity was very possibly my favorite. We did the Heineken Experience at 530 Saturday evening. It is absolutely nothing as you would expect! First we were showed the ingredients and the history(which we actually bypassed, shhh) and then sampled a mini glass of Heineken. So good. And THEN we walked down the staircase, expecting the brewery where we get our 2 complimentary beers, only to find a black light room with flashing lights, video games, photo booths and karaoke. They were playing top 40 and people were dancing on the dance floor and playing a PS4 soccer game and watching Heineken videos and taking pictures near a wall made of Heineken bottles. We were there for at least an hour and a half, drinking our beers, meeting other Heineken drinkers and entertaining ourselves with the games. 10/10 go to the Heineken experience, we had a blast.
We made our 8am flight the next morning by Home Alone-ing our way through the airport and just catching the gate before it closed.
Bye awful AirB&B!!! See you never ever ever!!
And bye Amsterdam, you couldn’t have been better, I promise I’ll be back for you.
PS. The entire time I have been typing this the man next to me on the plane as been watching video after video of his young son on his phone. It’s very sweet and making me miss all you guys at home. Talk to you soon!!