The Netherlands. The country that bikers have more rights than pedestrians. There are actually more bikes than people and seriously, I swear I almost died at least three times a day from getting hit by a bike. I couldn’t figure out which was the biking lane and which was the walking lane. If you missed the bike while crossing the street, you had a tram that could get you. And if you manage to miss both of those, you have cars that can still clip you! It was a modern day Frogger all weekend. I have never had anyone aggressively ring a bike bell at me before either. Just a “Ting!…Ting! Ting!…Ting! Ting! Ting! Ting!”
Anyway! The Netherlands is the most different country that I have been to hands down as far as the culture goes. I traveled with the original squad of Mycayla, Shannon, and Ashlen. We arrived late on Thursday and settled into our hotel. We got up the next morning and hit the city centre with a canal tour. It was really neat to float down the canals and get a tour of the city.
After the canal tour we waited for a good two hours in line to see the Anne Frank house. This wasn’t my favorite museum we went to but it was really interesting to see where the two families stayed in hiding and compare it to what I imagined it to be when I read the diary. It was certainly worth going to.
After that, we checked out the western part of the city centre seeing Westerkerk and the surrounding streets and moved into the middle of the city centre where we explored more. Everyday we were there, we walked roughly eight miles.
Every morning I had some of the best breakfast food I’ve every tasted. All throughout the day we would stop at these shops and buy more crepes and waffles because they were so good! I definitely ate like a king this trip.
Saturday, after a fantastic breakfast, we went to Albert Cuypmarkt, which is a flee market and it was bumping! I bought myself a new watch and enjoyed seeing all of the different venders selling their products which varied from furs to fruit and meals to coasters all the way to sunglasses.
After some haggling, we explored more of the city centre and headed to the ICEBAR. We received three tokens, two for in the ice bar and one for the bar outside of the freezer. We were given gloves and a jacket before we entered the ice bar.
Majority of our group left after ten minutes, but we stayed in there to get the full bang for our buck…which ended up being about 25 minutes before we couldn’t feel most of our fingers and toes.
Overall, it was worth going to once to check it out. We all got a delicious “Amsterdamned” drink once we left the freezer and it was just a good way to end it.
We hung out in the city centre some more and explored the Red Light District. I never felt threatened or unsafe at all in the district or anywhere in Amsterdam. The people weren’t as friendly as the Irish, but they are still nice. On the way back to the hotel, a large group of black guys was walking towards me and one of them had a boombox blasting some tunes and they all started to dance. So I threw my bag down and joined in some dance and was giving high fives out when we left with laughter in the air.
Sunday morning Shannon and I did the “Heineken Experience” which was pretty stellar. It was much more interactive than the Guinness Museum, but I’m not sure it was better because of it. They were both different from each other and I’m glad I got to do them both.
After drinking some beer, we met with the other two girls and went to the Van Gogh Museum. This was my favorite museum that we went to by far. Some of the works in that museum was just incredible. I had three favorite paintings in the museum. My favorite Van Gogh painting was Zeegezicht bij Les saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 1888. The painting that I was most entranced by was Apollo Verslaat Python by Eugène Delacroix, 1850. Lastly, the painting that spoke the most to me was De Boeddha by Odilon Redon, 1905.
I would have loved to have gone to the Rijksmuseum as well, but we just didn’t have the time. After the Van Gogh museum, we laid out in the warm sun for a solid two hours and then we went back into the city centre for our last museum, the Red Light Secrets. I didn’t really care for this one. I thought it was very short and not informative.
My favorite part about Amsterdam has to be the buildings though. Everything is so crammed together and there are some buildings that actually lean forward and have smaller windows the further up the building to make the illusion that it is bigger. Every building also has a scaffold that juts out so they can use a pulley system to move things on the higher floors.
Oh and the cheese. Seriously. It’s been awhile since I have been able to have some Wisconsin cheese, but damn, the Netherlands has some really really delicious cheese.
I really loved Amsterdam and I know that I will come back in the future.