Spring Break Pt. 1: Amsterdam

I am sorry to say that I did not write about my adventures as soon as I would have like to, but it has been a crazy couple of weeks and I was busy doing laundry and running around Dublin. Better late than never though, right?

Right?

Without further ado, my adventures of Spring Break 2011.

17 April 2011
We were up by 3:30am to catch the 4:00am bus to the airport. The flight went smoothly and peacefully (it wasn’t Ryan Air), and arrived on time at about 8:45am local time in Amsterdam. We took a train to Central Station where we got our Holland Pass for sightseeing, our 72-hour transport passes, and booked a ticket for our train from Amsterdam to Berlin. The Holland Pass is a really nice deal that I would recommend. With the pass you get five tickets that get you into five sites or museums of your choice for free, and the pass gets you discounts to other sites and even restaurants. We checked into our hostel, the Hotel Annemarie, conveniently located just across the street from a tram stop and the park with the “I amsterdam” sign.

There was also a museum of some sort, but check out the sign!

We grabbed lunch at a highly-rated café from our guide book which wasn’t actually that good, then Anders, Danielle and Libby went to see the Anne Frank house, and Kelsey and I walked around and checked out the city.

18 April 2011
We started off the morning taking pictures with the “I amsterdam” sign because it wasn’t swarming with tourists at 8:00am. We walked to the Van Gogh Museum a few blocks away and waited for it to open (we may have had a deck of cards). None of us know a whole lot about art, and some of us don’t actually like art at all, but I thought it would be a really interesting exhibit, and Anders was very excited to see Starry Night. If you ever travel to Amsterdam and decide to go to the Van Gogh Museum, it should be mentioned that Starry Night is actually located in a museum in New York City. After exploring four floors of paintings of different periods, we took a tram to Sloate, a suburb of Amsterdam, to tour a windmill. Holland is known for it’s many windmills, and it was actually very cool.

And literally in the middle of a suburb.

We came back into Amsterdam to grab a quick lunch and then go to the House of Bols. If you travel to Amsterdam, this is an absolute must. Bols is the name of a liquor known as genever, which is only distilled in Holland. It’s a cousin of gin (the British actually invented gin trying to mimic genever), comes in a variety of flavors, and has an amazing interactive tour experience that envelopes all five of your senses. The end of the tour ends in the mirrored bar with a free cocktail and two free shots of your choice (some of the 36 flavors include apricot, amaretto, blood orange, butterscotch, espresso, kiwi, and vanilla just to name a few).

And they're pretty.

Sadly Bols is sold in very few places in the US, so seriously stop by if you’re ever in Amsterdam.

19 April 2011
For our last day in Amsterdam we started the morning with a boat tour of the canal. A lot of the sites were extremely interesting and the architecture is beautiful, but the tour itself was actually pretty disappointing. The “guide” was just a bad tape recording that drifted between three or four different languages which made it hard to get information or even pay attention. I did get some cool pictures though.


After the cruise, Danielle and Libby rented a paddle boat and had their own adventure navigating the canals (they got hopelessly lost for about four hours), while Anders, Kelsey, and I checked out the “Amsterdam Dungeon,” an indoor theme park of sorts that explores horrible history and the supernatural of the Middle Ages. It was sort of like an educational haunted house that ended with a roller coaster, and was accompanied by hysterical German teenagers who were awfully afraid of the dark.

Kelsey and I decided to do authentic cuisine for lunch and I got a Dutch omelet, which is a massive omelet served on a ciabatta roll and was the first and probably only meal I actually enjoyed in Amsterdam. After lunch we went to a canal house that was once home to an extremely wealthy and powerful family in Amsterdam in the early 1800s. It was a beautiful house with a great garden where I got to see my first tulips since arriving in Holland.

Fun Fact: It's illegal to pick them.

That evening we walked around the city for a little while to see some of the “night life” phenomenon, which were certainly much different than anything we were used to. We headed back to the hostel to pack up our things and get to bed so we could be up early for our train. Next stop, Berlin!

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