This weekend I feel in love with Amsterdam. I left Wednesday night with six of my friends and flew from Rome to Amsterdam. I sat next to a really nice Italian man who would not quit talking to me in Italian even though I had no idea what was being said. I did a lot of awkward smiling and praying that time would go faster because I had no idea what to say. We finally landed and easily figured out where out hostel was. We didn’t realize we had booked a 20 person mixed dorm so it was a bit of a shock at first when we arrived. We got in fairly late but still wanted to see a bit of the city so we wandered around for about an hour before going to bed.
On Thursday morning we woke up and got ready to walk around the city some more. We were killing a little time by popping in random shops because we had another friend flying in that afternoon. Once she got there we walked until we found the “I Amsterdam” sign and took a few pictures. It’s a lot harder than you would think to take a picture with it because there are so many people photo bombing your pictures. I found a Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters while wandering around, which made my weekend. I think I have a shopping addiction. Well, actually I know I do. We stopped at a little restaurant to get some a late lunch then went back to our hostel for a Wi-Fi binge. After we rested for a while, we made our way to the Anne Frank House. Luckily we only had to wait for about 45 minutes compared to the two hours everyone said it would take. The Anne Frank House was an experience that I’m still trying to put into words. It was eye opening, heart breaking, and unreal. It’s amazing to me the impact one girl’s words has had on the world. I can’t even imagine what Anne, her family, and friends went through for the three years they spent in the tiny attic. We all know the story of Anne Frank but walking through their attic really opened my eyes to the reality that some people went through years ago. It was a lot bigger than I had imagined but I’m sure it felt a lot smaller with all the people who had lived in it. The museum was extremely informative and had many pictures from her childhood. We didn’t leave the museum until a little after 10 p.m. and afterwards went to a pub to hang out for the night.
On Friday we had three more friends fly in to meet us for the weekend. I swear this was the last group of friends to join us. We met at a local pancake shop to try some of Dutch pancakes. I had a Dutch pancake with cinnamon, apple crumbles, and ice cream. It was really good but I’d rather have a regular, American pancake because they are more filling and your girl likes to eat. After brunch we broke off into smaller groups to make seeing the city easier. I went to Vondel Park and walked around until we found an empty bench we could claim to people watch. We finally got sick of people watching and stopped in at the Van Gough Museum. I’m not an art lover but I actually enjoyed the museum. Florence’s artwork is primarily paintings of Jesus so it was refreshing to see something different. His work was actually interesting for me to look at. By the time we left the museum, it was dark out so we decided to go to the Red Light District. It was an interesting experience to say the least. It was sad to see the women in the window literally selling their bodies for money. I clearly looked like a total tourist and in disbelief because two people had asked if this was my first time visiting Amsterdam. The streets were packed with people literally window shopping and going into live sex shows. My eyes probably looked like they were about to pop out of my head.
Saturday was our last full day in Amsterdam so after brunch a small group of us decided to wander the more residential area of the city. I loved the different colored brick buildings, architecture, and canals. It reminded me of the town next to where I grew up that has a strong Dutch heritage. There were several really cute antique and clothing shops to look around in. I went back to the park to people watch and the Amsterdam sign for more pictures. It was relaxing to be able to spend my final day in the city wandering around instead of having to pack the day with all the “must do’s”. We went to a place called Salsa Shop that was very similar to Chipotle but still wasn’t the same. It did kill my American food craving though. We found an American food store that had all the junk food I’ve been missing. I don’t even like Oreo’s or Goldfish but I still bought and inhaled them. We weren’t ready to call it a night yet so we decided to go back to the Red Light District. I thought I would be a little less shocked since I had been to it the night before but I was wrong. I was still just as shocked and stared just as much. You’re not allowed to take pictures so unfortunately I don’t have any. One guy tried taking a picture of one of the girls and she started screaming at him and threw a comb at his head. I didn’t want to take my chances on that. We finally decided to head back to our hostel since we had an early flight in the morning. Amsterdam is a beautiful city that has so much more to offer than the stereotype surrounding it. I highly suggest going visiting later in the spring to better enjoy the weather and tulips.