Thursday, April 1, 2010

I amsterdam: The land of the wooden shoes

When preparing for my trip to Amsterdam, everyone kept asking me the same question:

Are you going to buy clogs?

Well, to answer that pressing question, no, I didn't, though one of my flatmates indulged herself in this traditional dutch fashion. I did however, find a giant clog that served as a spectacular photo opportunity.

We arrived into Amsterdam late Friday night on a teeny 30 seater propeller jet. After a good nights sleep, we woke up early and journeyed into the city centre. As I was only going to be in Amsterdam one day, I needed to maximize my time as best as possible, and had three things I really wanted to do: see the Anne Frank Huis, the Van Gogh Museum, and tour the Heineken Brewery.

The first place we visited was the Anne Frank Huis. Having read her diary in elementary school and watched the movie, I was very interesed in actually seeing the place I had read about. It was an incredibly moving and beautifully put together experience. Each room had Anne's descriptions from her diary blown up on the wall, and reading her words describing the area in which I was standing was very emotional. Walking up the steps to the secret annex that were hidden behind a bookcase, and into the room where on the wall still remains pencil marks to note the children's growth during their years in hiding brought such a feeling of sadness over me that I began to cry.

My tears continued into the next room, Anne's room, where on the walls remained her photo collection that she put up to brighten the area. The most surreal experience was seeing the diary itself, and then looking at copies of the diary in almost every language imaginable, and realizing that one young girl's musings could have had such an effect on so many people, all over the world. Not owning a copy of the diary myself, i purchased it on the site that it was written, and it is one of my favorite souvenirs from my time in Europe.

After leaving the house, my guide book had recommended that I do something contemplative and reflect about the experience. As I do my best reflecting over a good meal, I knew it was time to call my friend Molly who is studying there, so she could lead us to the pannekoeken. After having delicious banana pannekoeken, we bid Molly goodbye and continued on to the Van Gogh Museum. I was really excited to see this, as Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. Unfortunately, the museum cost 14 euro, which compared to the free museums in London and the 9.50 you pay to get into the Lourve, was pretty pricey, and the museum had barely anything in it. And of course, we didn't realize until after we couldn't find the letters written by Vincent to his brother Theo were on loan to, where else, but London. After that disappointment, we knew it was time for a drink.

Or three drinks to be precise. At the Heineken Experience (yes, experience, not tour) you got to tour the brewery, ride a ride that put you in the place of the beer and "brewed" you, help make the beer, and of course, on top of many other activities, enjoy three free beers. While the beer made the experience, even without it, it would have been fun, and it is one of my favorite experiences abroad.

After leaving the brewery we were feeling a little, uh, lets say excited, and we decided to go see the Red Light District, which we promptly left two minutes later. We finished off the day eating frites in Dam Square, and then returned to the hotel since I had to wake up at 4:30 to catch my flight back to London.

I enjoyed Amsterdam even more than I was expecting. It is incredibly beautiful with the canals twisting through the city, and the people are very nice, which always makes a difference. I'm sad I only got to spend one day there, but glad I got to go, even if it was just for a bit. If anyone plans on going, I would say the Anne Frank Huis and Heineken Experience are must sees.

Now, usually I attempt to sign off my blog in the language of the country I just visited. Well, truth is, Dutch is most likely the strangest and most foreign language I've come across in my travels so I'll just say,



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