My Birthday Weekend in Amsterdam!

Trip Start Sep 11, 2008
Trip End Dec 19, 2008

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hallo!!!! I am procrastinating some homework to write this blog about my amazing weekend in Amsterdam!!! The weekend began on Friday, which was my birthday!!! I got sung to in Dutch at lunch in the DH! It was pretty awesome! At 2:30 after my European Lit class, Vanessa, Chris, Audrey, and I left for Amsterdam. In order to get there, we had to take an hour long bus ride to Nijmegen and then get on a train for another hour and a half. We finally made it though. On our way to our hostel, we got lost (of course!) and wound up going 6 stops too far on the tram. So then we had to get off with our big backpacks and walk all the way back. We found our hostel though, and it was super classy. Like, if we weren't in an eight person room, it could have been a hotel. My travel group this weekend was me, Vanessa, Chris, Audrey, and then we met Anthony, Noel, Zach and Ben at the hostel once they got into Amsterdam.
The plan was to celebrate my birthday Friday night by going out dancing at a club which we had picked out from a travel guide earlier. So we all headed out that night to search. And search. And search. And we could not for the life of us find this club. We did, however, find the Red Light District in which we saw prostitutes for the first time. THAT was different!!! So, after searching for like 2 hours and asking for directions a million times we gave up looking for that specific club and went in any random club we found. Too bad we didn't realize we were in a gay area. As soon as we walked in the club, we were like "And its a gay club." In retrospect, we should have known. It was pretty obvious, but we were just really focused on that other club. But it was pretty hilarious, that the group of us, who for the first time in Emerson history were mostly straight, wound up in a gay club. The funniest part was that all three gay guys we were with left like 5 minutes after we got there without telling us, and so the straights were all hanging out in the gay club. So typical of my life. After the gay club, we sat at a bar across the street and got something to drink and hung out. Vanessa, Audrey, and I left not too long after so we could get some sleep before Sunday. All in all, my birthday was pretty memorable. I mean, who else can say that on their 19th birthday they saw prostitutes and went to a gay club in Amsterdam? On second thought, I don't want to know!
On Sunday, Vanessa and I got up before our sleepy roommates and headed out to explore Amsterdam. We literally walked the entire city!!! Seriously....Leidseplein, Museumplein, Remdrandtplein, the Red Light District, Nieuwmarkt, you name it we walked there. We discovered the city from top to bottom. And Amsterdam is a gorgeous city. We decided that the only places we had been that we could compare it to were Boston and Venice. If Boston and Venice had a child together, it would be Amsterdam. There are so many different layers and aspects to it, though, that even saying that doesn't really do it justice. We were literally walking down the street in the Red Light District and there were prostitutes in the windows, and then we turned a corner and we were in front of this unbelievable 17th century church. How crazy is that? I think exploring was the best way ever to see Amsterdam because we learned so much as we went and found so many things we wouldn't have seen on a tour. The people of Amsterdam were also all very friendly and more than willing to help us when we got lost...multiple times. We ate a picnic lunch we got from a tiny supermarket in front of the statue of Rembrandt in Rembrandtplein. We discovered all sorts of great monuments on our own, including the Dutch Nationaal Monument, The Palace in Dam Square, and De Waag (which is the oldest remaining building in Amsterdam).
At 3:30 we met Kara and Nicole at the Anne Frank House and went in with the tickets we had pre-ordered (Go me for thinking of that!!!). It was a very eerie and surreal experience to be standing where Anne wrote her diary. Knowing that the whole Frank family was hidden in that building for 3 years, and standing in their rooms was pretty strange. It felt similar to how I felt visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., only this time it was much more personal because it was focused on just Anne and her family who we all relate to through the diary. Anne's room has pictures and posters on the wall still, just like my room at home. It was very weird to know their story and be standing where it took place. After the Anne Frank House, we met back up with Zach, Chris and Ben, and all of us decided to go on a canal cruise. It was really peaceful and a nice way to see Amsterdam from a different perspective. Also, I was glad to sit down for awhile after 7 hours of nonstop walking.
After the tour, things began to go downhill for Vanessa and I. We were supposed to meet up with Noel, Audrey, and Anthony at 7 at the hostel. However, they stopped to eat and wound up being an hour and a half late. So the rest of us were all starving, and went out to find dinner once they got there. It took us forever to find a place we could afford, and by the time we did, Vanessa and I had to leave to meet up with Kara and Nicole again who we said we would go out with that night. So now, its 10:00 and we haven't eaten since noon. We get on the tram to go meet the girls, and when we get off, we got the first street-food we could find. We are still not sure what exactly it was that we ate, but it was delicious. It was some kind of chicken sandwich wrap thing with all kinds of vegetables and stuff in it too. We really didn't care what it was, we were so hungry. Then we waited for Kara and Nicole, who wound up never showing up. (Later we found out that they got lost on the way from their hostel and were really late.) So around 11, we called it quits and started to head back. We got waffles and ice cream to make ourselves feel better. Delicious!!! We wound up going to a really cool jazz club later that night and we had a lot of fun just chilling out there after our long day.
We woke up early on Sunday too in order to go to the Van Gogh Museum. It was really incredible. I could have easily spent all day there (we spent at least 4 hours there). Seeing all the artwork up close is like nothing else. You can feel his emotions in his paintings and its like you were there with him while he was painting them. The pictures and prints of them don't do them justice at all. At 4:00 we left and got some food at a supermarket. We all sat down in the park right by Museumplein and had a picnic while soaking up the last bits of Amsterdam. Then, we gathered our stuff and began the journey back to Well. I am really glad to be back at the castle and have a chance to relax again before next weekend. I already feel like this place is home, and I felt so happy walking up the walkway to the castle. That said, it is time to start planning next weekend! I am going on a field trip to Maastricht with my Art Professor and then Kara, Nicole, and I are going to Luxembourg! Can't wait!
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