So after going to Amsterdam last weekend I can proudly say my first trip out of Italy is officially under my belt and everything went smoothly! I now know how easy it is to buy a cheap flight, hop on a plane for a few hours, and land in a different country. Sorry about the delay of this post.
Amsterdam is a city known for its liberal outlooks, including the legal prostitution and the decriminalization of marijuana. If you ignore the smell of weed that flows out of every “Coffee Shop” and avoid the Red Light District, it honestly reminded me a bit of home.
The whole trip was kind of last minute but worked out…proving spontaneity is sometimes the way to go. Our flight started the trip off on the right track as I was seated next to a friendly Dutch woman. She has lived in Italy for the past 20 years but was returning home to a town near Amsterdam to visit her mother. We talked the whole two hours about everything…how her small italian town has lost all of its flaire because of the poor economy, America’s obesity problem, and how she doesn’t know where she will move in Europe once her daughter goes off to college. We had a farewell with kisses–awkwardly learned that the Dutch do three whereas the Italians do two.
Erica and I arrived around 5 and the cities energy was hard to ignore. Amsterdam had a different buzz than Italy. We easily found our hostel which was located on a street filled with restaurants and shops.
My travel companions were three other girls from UW-Madison. After a surprisingly good nights sleep (I swear to God after this whole study abroad thing I will be able to sleep on a cement floor) we woke up friday morning to start our adventures. In order to get acclimated with the city the first thing we did was a walking tour through the city. The abundant canals, bright colored homes, and sound of bike bells throughout the street made the city feel like something out of a disney movie.
The three hour outside tour left us a little more knowledgable, but also frozen to the bone. When people told us Amsterdam would be cold we brushed it off knowing it wouldn’t compare to Wisconsin. What I forgot was that my winter coat was left behind and I was stuck with nothing but a paper thin excuse of a jacket.
Throughout the rest of the weekend we went to the Van Gogh Museum, took a boat tour through the canals, checked out to the Anne Frank Museum, went to a few “coffee shops,” and of course ate a lot of good food. Thank god for Jacky–one of the girls on the trip–who turned out to be a direction guru who the rest of us just followed around the whole weekend (much more efficient than my normal strategy which consists of wandering until I give up and then asking someone who usually doesn’t speak english for directions).
The Anne Frank Museum was probably the most memorable of the trip. The museum is inside the actual “Secret Annex” where Anne Frank’s family was in hiding for two years during World War II. It was kind of crazy to me how they were able to preserve so much of it–the actual pictures Anne glued on the walls to decorate the place were still there, multiple pages of her original diary, and among other things used in while in annex.
“Amsterdam is Madison on steroids” -erica lurie
..couldn’t have said it better myself. One obvious reason I felt this was the english language. Almost everyone spoke english and all of the locals were SO nice. Different than italians–less warm but more peppy. Another obvious reminder of home was the snow. Regardless of the fact that we weren’t prepared for the elements it was still nice to see the streets covered in white.
Another reminder of home was the cuisine. It was nice to have a break from the pasta and wine. The dutch love their beer and the pubs were filled throughout the day with people sipping on their Heineken which originated in Amsterdam.
And lets not forget the dutch give Wisconsin some competition in the cheese market. During our walking tour our guide brought us to a cheese and wine place where we all got samples–she made an extra point to give all the leftovers to us sconnies. All biases aside, it put our cheddar to shame. Along with cheese and beer, we tried other local favorites including a famous pancake house, pea soup (Grandma U–it still didn’t compare to yours), and of course Dutch apple pie.
The most threatening part of Amsterdam were the bikers. Yes–walking around Madison I have had some close encounters with getting hit by bikers cruising down the street, but it is no comparison to Amsterdam. They don’t mess around with tourists. Despite the snow/rain/darkness/etc. the streets were filled with bikers, zooming by ringing their bells if you are in their path. We learned that every year over 10,000 bikes are dug out of the canal–karma’s a bitch.
Overall, it was a great first trip and it got me very excited for my future destinations!
Foto Del Giorno
Sorry I am falling behind! Time goes by so fast here and there is just so much to see. I’ll have another post up soon.