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

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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.

 

Traveling Abroad: Berlin

On my third weekend traveling abroad, I visited Berlin, Germany with my roommates. None of us knew what to expect but we were nervous about the language barrier. None of us knew a lick of German, so we expected the weekend to be dysfunctional – which it was. However, it ended up being one of the most memorable weekends for all of us.

The first morning we went to an amazing brunch place called Chipps. None of us had eaten eggs for breakfast in quite some time (because a typical breakfast in Barcelona consists of pastries and jamón sandwiches) so we were excited when we found out Chipps was known for eggs. I ordered a delicious plate of toast, avocado, and eggs (pictured below).

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Chipps also has a delicious lunch menu and drinks. I would high recommend this restaurant to anyone who visits Berlin.

Berlin bobo bio #chezchips

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After brunch, we went to the Jewish Museum. This was an incredibly historic museum that displayed events which expressed the minority of the Jewish people in German-speaking countries. It was extremely interesting because the museum did not only focus on one time-period, but many different periods throughout the history of the Jews. I really enjoyed learning about this because I am Jewish and proud of my religion.

Later that day, we went to the Monkey Bar, a bar located on the 10th story of the building that overlooks the Berlin Zoo and the city itself. It was an incredible view with great vibes from the waiters.

 

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We ended our day visiting the spot where the terrorist attack in Berlin took place in December 2016. It was extremely sad looking at all the candles lit up for the victims. However, it was powerful knowing that those people are still being honored.

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The next day, we began our day on a historical tour of the city. The tour guide took us around to all the important places in Berlin. We saw the Berlin Wall, Memorial to the Murdered Jews, the spot where Hitler committed suicide, and much more. It was an incredible tour and our guide was amazing.

This video covers many parts of the tour.

Berlin Wall
Memorial of the Murdered Jews
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the tour, we walked to the Topography of Terror. This museum displayed events from the Nazi Regime from 1933-1945. It was very interesting to read about how the Nazis took control, but it was also extremely devastating to see how many Jews were affected during this time. Right after this museum, we went inside the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as a Holocaust Memorial. This was also extremely devastating to see, however I went inside anyway because I am always interested in learning about my religious background. It was definitely worth visiting.

On a lighter note, we ended our night at at a restaurant and biergarden called Hofbrauhaus. This was one of the coolest experiences. This place was filled with locals who were passionate about Berlin. There was live music, dancing, endless schnitzel, and of course, beer. The band sang well-known American songs in German (like Sweet Caroline) so we were able to sing along. img_1060

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The weekend was so much more fun than expected. We did have problems communicating with locals, but we made it out alive (barely). Berlin is one of the most historical and exciting cities I have traveled to. If you study abroad, I highly encourage you to visit Berlin!

Traveling Abroad: London

Studying abroad is one of the greatest experiences for a college student. Not only does it consist of studying in another country, it also consists of traveling to different countries every weekend. Traveling that often might seem a bit overwhelming, however, I have to say it is my favorite part about studying abroad. One of my favorite places I traveled to has to be London. The city is beautiful, the people are friendly, the history is unbelievable, and the shopping is unlike anything I have ever seen before. My roommates and I fell in love with London.

Our first day in London was amazing, yet exhausting. My flight was at 7 am so I got about 2 hours of sleep. I drank two cups of coffee to stay awake throughout the day. We took the hop-on hop-off bus tour around the city. Even though it was freezing outside, we decided to sit on the top of the double decker bus to have the full experience.img_0618

The bus tour took us around the entire city and included headphones that had a recording explain the history behind each building and monument. Below are some photos I took on the tour:

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We hopped off the bus at the Tower of London and also went inside the castle and learned about the history of the royal families in London. This was one of my favorite parts about London because it showed how different power is held in the United Kingdom than in America

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Later, we hopped back on the bus and went to Big Ben and the London Eye. These were incredible to see in person after seeing them in movies throughout the years.

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We ended our day at Harrods department store. This was the largest department store I had ever seen. Harrods literally, and I mean literally, has everything you could imagine. It has designer clothes, a gourmet food court, electronics (Apple Store), a candy story, a toy store, restaurants, vintage records, and so much more. My roommates and I were in awe because we are used to department stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, which are about 1/4 of the size and are mainly full of clothing lines.

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Not to mention, Harrods is beautifully lit up at night.

The next day we went to the Camden Market. Camden is a vintage-themed area that has a flee market, street food, and other vendors. We ate at Cereal Killer Cafe, a cafe that has over 100 different types of cereal from all over the world. We were able to choose our cereal, milk, and add sugary toppings. If you are a cereal-lover, Cereal Killer Cafe is a must-try in London!

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Later that day, we went to Abbey Road, the street The Beatles were photographed walking across, which became the title of their final album. It was also the street where their studio, Abbey Road Studios, was located.

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It was a cool experience walking across the same street that The Beatles did, however, I expected the street to be more exciting. It was very small and full of tourists. My roommates and I all agreed that this was the most overrated part of London.

Our last stop was at the Buckingham Palace. In my opinion, the palace was the most beautiful piece of architecture in London. We also went around the time the sun was setting, which made it even more beautiful.

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London was one of the most incredible cities I have ever visited. I was constantly entertained the entire weekend. All of the history, culture, food, shops, and site seeing helped me forget about how exhausted I was. Waking up at 4 am to catch a flight, sitting in uncomfortable plane seats, and dealing with layovers is definitely all worth traveling abroad.