Hellooooo to anyone who may be reading this!
Greetings from Amsterdam/ Amsterdam’s Airport/Barcelona’s Airport/Santiago!
Thank you to all of those who find my life interesting enough to want to read about it in a blog! I haven’t written in this baby since before I left the states, so I have a lot to catch you guys up on!
Sooooooo, last Saturday I flew out of Logan and met up with Nicole and Lindsay (I’ll be living with Nicole this year and Lindsay is her friend who is also living in Spain this year) at the Iceland airport and then we took a connecting flight to the city of sex and weed — AMSTERDAYUMMMM! We got in Sunday morning and checked into Hostel Slotania. Then we got the ball rolling and started exploring the city!
We started off in Dam Square, which is basically the heart of Amsterdam, where political demonstrations take place and where jugglers/human statues/puppeteers entertain people. From the square, we could see the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), the Royal Palace (formerly the City Hall before Napoleon invaded like a boss in 1808), and the National Monument/obilisque. Then, we used Lindsay’s handy dandy guidebook to go on a self-guided tour through Dam Square and the surrounding areas, including…
The RED LIGHT DISTRICT!
Don’t worry, Mom. I didn’t pay for any prostitutes. It was truly mind-boggling how many sex shops/weed paraphernalia stores/coffeeshops (aka bars where weed is sold) were all packed together onto all of the streets and alleys in the area! Apparently it’s illegal to advertise that you sell weed, but if you go into one of the “coffeeshops”, you just have to ask for the menu and then you can pick whatever weed you want and then smoke it either in the shop or take it to go.
It was also pretty crazy to be in the Red Light District after the sun started going down. I hadn’t really read anything about Amsterdam or that area, so I was surprised to see/learn that the place is centuries-old (like since the year 1200). There are over 400 display case windows in the District that prostitutes rent out so that they can attract customers. They are basically like any other entrepreneurs in the sense that they pay rent, pay taxes, and sometimes even pay union dues! So interesting. Slash, it’s kind of funny that all these prostitutes set up shop right by the Old Church (Oude Kerk) — the church marks the beginning of the District. Nicole, Lindsay, and I though it was pretty amusing in a weird way to watch men walk by the display windows, window shopping for prostitutes like they were in a mall or something. Bizarrroooo! Oh, and I learned that the lights outside the prostitutes’ spaces are red if the prostitute is a straight women and blue if she is transgender/a transsexual. Fun facts, huh?
Anyway, so we walked around a LOT and also tried to learn how to use the public tram system to get around. I suck at directions and got us lost a few times. Woops. Finding my way around, especially when announcements are made in a language I don’t know, is NOT one of my strong suits. But, even getting lost was good because we got to see more of the city and take more pictures 🙂 I also nearly got run over by bicyclists/people on mopeds on an hourly basis. Dem Dutch know how to bike fasttttt.
On day 2, we went to a pancake house that had a bajillion million minus a few million pancake options. DELISH. Then we walked around a bit and then got our stuff out of the hostel so we could move our stuff into the place we were staying for the next 2 nights. Afterwards, we went to see the Bloemenmarkt, which I THOUGHT was a bunch of flowers ON boats ON one of the canals. But, when we got there, I found out the flowers were just being sold in stalls NEXT TO the canal. Disappointing 😦 They were still pretty though.
Afterwards, we walked by the Heineken factory, and although we didn’t go on the tour and drink lots of beer and get drunk, Nicole and I could still PRETEND we were inebriated!
After getting super duper not-shitfaced, we made our way to the Rijksmuseum so we could take pictures in front of the “Iamsterdam” sign.
Afterwards, I think we went to Centraal Station where there are a SHIT-TON of bikes. Like, seriously. So. Many. Bikes. I’ve never seen a city with so many bikes.
What else? The apartment buildings in Amsterdam are gorgeoussssss. Just imagine living in one of those and overlooking a canal every morning. Cool fact is pretty much all of these tall buildings have hooks at the very top of them because the only way to get furniture in the house is to lift them up using a hook. So, overall, the places are gorgeous. Buttttt, we definitely saw quite a few apartments that appeared to be leaning which would scare the bejeezus out of me if I were living in one. For example,:
Okay, last thing because I’m getting tired of writing this post and I’m probably boring the crrrrap out of you with all this writing.
Soooooo, one more thing we did in Amsterdam was visit the Anne Frank house. I’ve never read her diary but now I really want to. No matter how many stories I hear about the Holocaust, I still always find myself in complete disbelief when I hear a story like that of the Frank family. It’s so hard to imagine that had my family been around at that time and place, we might be in the exact same situation as the Frank family simply because we are Jewish. Forced to go into hiding. Never allowed to go outside. Speaking in whispered voices to avoid being heard. Living in a “Secret Annexe” for 2 years and relying on others to bring us food and water. AND, after all of that, get caught and shipped off to concentration camps.
It’s so incredibly sad that out of the 8 people in hiding, only Anne’s father, Otto, survived the war and Anne died almost right before Bergen-Belson was liberated. I can’t imagine being in her dad’s position and going on with life after finding out everyone I loved was gone forever. Woof. Really heavy stuff. But, just as important as it is to do fun things while you travel, I also think it’s such an important thing to learn about the history of a place. I’m just so lucky to have had the opportunity to go on this short excursion to Amsterdam and see all the things I did! And trust me, the my quest for knowledge certainly is not coming to an end in Amsterdam! 🙂
Until next time! ❤
ALMOST FORGOT: My new favorite sweet comes from the Netherlands, and it’s called a “stroopwafels”, which are thin caramel-filled biscuits that are often brought out when you order coffee. YUM YUM YUM. I miss them so much!