New Years in Amsterdam!

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
Trip End Jul 02, 2012

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Saturday, December 31, 2011

I've been enjoying my break off from school and enjoying the holidays. Christmas was a little strange being away from my family for the first time. Luckily, Mom sent some of her famous Christmas cookies and I got to Skype with both sides of my family, so that helped make me feel a little closer to home. I had some friends over for a drink on Christmas Eve, so luckily I didn't have to spend the holidays alone.

On the 28th, I met up with Grace, a friend from WVU, who had a layover in Amsterdam on her way to Ghana. It was really spur of the moment and fun! I took her and the other people she was traveling with to Damrak, the Canal Belt, Anne Frank House, the Westerkerk, Dam Square, the Red Light District, the Old Church, and the Church of St Nicholas. I wish they would have had more time, but we saw a lot of stuff in the few hours we had and the weather was great for Amsterdam. It started raining right after they left for the airport. Luckily it held off till then.

I also purchased my first digital SLR camera (a Cannon EOS Rebel T3i)! I dropped my other point and shoot camera and the screen doesn't work, so I decided to use my Christmas money and go all in for an SLR. I've been walking around the city to test it out and I already love it! The random pictures at the end of the blog are from the day I tested it out in areas around my apartment and then in the city center. I'm excited to get to take more pictures with it when I travel to other countries.

On New Years Eve me and some friends bought some fireworks (that would be illegal in West Virginia) and had fun setting them off on Sarphatistraat. Afterwards, we walked up the Amstel to the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) to watch the fireworks set off at midnight. It was neat to see how another culture celebrates New Years. People were out in the streets drinking champaign from wineglasses and setting off fireworks. I'd have to say that Dutch people way outdo America with fireworks on New Years. All over the city, people were setting off the fireworks that shoot up high into the air and explode. Luckily Amsterdam is always really wet, otherwise I think the whole city would have gone up in smoke. It was a really cool sight to see so many fireworks going off all over the city. I took a video of the fireworks, but I can't upload it. This YouTube video can give you an idea of how many fireworks were going off, though.

After the midnight fireworks had died down, we set off the rest of our fireworks. A drunk guy told Will and Jason that you could hold the rockets by the stick and set them off. Let's just say that ended in failure. Somehow, Jason's ended up on the ground and exploded on them. They were okay for the most part, Will got a small burn on his hand, though. We also accidentally set off some fireworks over the river and hit a houseboat. Whoops! 

I'm going to try to do an Alps and Central Europe trip to Zurich, Vienna, Budapest, Auschwitz Concentration Camp and Prague at the end of the month. I have to turn in some papers and take two exams the next two weeks before the semester ends and then I have two weeks off to travel. I can't wait to see Prague! I heard it's a beautiful city.

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