Traveling Abroad: Amsterdam

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of visiting the city of Amsterdam. Everything about it fascinated me – mainly the culture, history, landmarks, and entertainment. In mid-January, I booked my trip for the end of February. Those 6 weeks felt like a year. When the time finally came, I was so excited that I could not sleep the night before my flight.

About 10 minutes after stepping off the plane in Amsterdam, I was in love with the city. I was impressed by everything from the atmosphere and people to the food and landmarks. I am a very relaxed person so I appreciate relaxed environments – which was my first impression of Amsterdam. My roommates and I immediately took a cab to our hotel – The Marriott. We quickly checked in because we were anxious to begin our day.

Our first stop was at Iamsterdam. Iamsterdam is one of Amsterdam’s top landmark. These letters stand tall in the most convenient location – Museumplein, in the museum quarter. I did a lot of research before the trip and discovered that Iamsterdam has a Twitter account (@Iamsterdam).

I had planned (way in advance) to post a photo of myself on top of the “S” on Instagram. When I saw the “S” in person, I realized it was a lot taller than I anticipated. The climb up was a struggle and going down was even worse. I had to hang my arms from the top and drop down, which was risky, but I stuck the landing.

sky high

A post shared by skylarlowy (@skylarlowy) on

Later that day, we visited the Heineken Experience. This “experience” was much more educational than I expected. I learned a lot about Heineken beer, which was actually very interesting. I was unaware of how long it has been around for – established in Amsterdam in 1864.The tour guide showed us how, where, and how long it takes to brew their beer. The tour included two free Heineken beers, which were delicious! Before studying abroad in Europe, I was not very fond of beer, however, my opinion changed early on in the semester. In fact, Heineken is now my personal favorite.

After the Heineken Experience, we went back to the Marriott to get ready for our big night. We bought tickets to see The Weeknd in concert. The Weeknd is my absolute favorite music artist, so you could imagine my excitement. He performed at the Ziggo Dome, which was a very cool venue.

The Weeknd completely blew me away! It was the best concert I’ve ever been to, aside from music festivals. He is incredibly talented and did not take a single break during his hour and a half set. Unfortunately, the post-concert depression hit me as I was walking out of Ziggo Dome. I went to bed wishing I could relive the concert all over again.

The next morning, we were out of the hotel by 9:00 am. Our first activity was a visit to the Anne Frank Museum. I had been looking forward to this for some time. I am very interested in the history of the Holocaust, and Anne Frank’s Diary, containing notes from her experience when she was in hiding during the Holocaust. Exploring the museum in-person was completely different than reading about it. Physically observing what Jewish families, like hers, went through in order to survive made her experience feel real. It was an extremely heartbreaking, yet an incredible museum and I am happy that I was able to experience it.

On a lighter note, my roommates and I ate at The Pancake Bakery, which is a typical restaurant tourists try in Amsterdam. It is highly recommended by anyone who has visited the city.

It definitely lived up to its expectations. I ordered the pancakes with chocolate sauce, ice cream, and whipped cream.

It was delicious, although it was more of a crepe than a pancake. I too, would recommend the Pancake Bakery to anyone.

We took a walk around the city to burn off some of the calories. I observed the Amsterdam locals who seemed extremely peaceful and happy. We took in the city’s beauty as we walked along the canal.

16 Aug 2010, Amsterdam, Netherlands — Canal at night in Amsterdam — Image by © Jean-Pierre Lescourret/Corbis

We stumbled upon The BullDog, Amsterdam’s first coffeeshop, so we had to go in…for the history, of course. It was one of the coolest atmospheres I have ever immersed myself in. In America, marijuana has historically been perceived as a negative connotation, (although, some states are changing that reputation) so seeing it used in a public social setting was fascinating.

We ended our night in the Red Light District. I was not as uncomfortable as I predicted, but I also did not think I would feel so sad for the women. I imagined the Red Light District to have a humorous vibe, but it was very real – nothing funny about it. Although it is sad, it is normal culture for Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is currently at the top of my list of cities I visited abroad. I will be back for you soon, Amsterdam.

 

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