Amsterdam, Netherlands

To be quite honest, Amsterdam was never on my must see places when planning my trip to Barcelona this summer. The opportunity just kinda of fell in my lab when my group of friends decided they wanted to go, so I just kind of went for it. And I'm glad I did. 

Now getting there wasn't as easy as my other two experiences had been. The morning of my flight, 3/5 of my friends including myself had a midterm to complete before starting our vacation. We all rushed to finish our exams to make it into a taxi to the airport. But that wasn't the start of our marathon to Amsterdam. 

After boarding our aircraft, after a short while I noticed we had been on the ground for about an hour and had no sign of take off. Eventually the entire flight seemed to notice the delay and we had no idea what was happening. After about an hour and half of waiting, the pilot came on the intercom and notified us that the plane had a malfunction and we needed to exit to board a new craft. 

After squeezing everyone on and off the plan and dealing with luggage we were off, finally. I wish I could say that was the end of our travel nightmare but it wasn't. To our luck we finally touched down in Amsterdam in the middle of a rainstorm. Since there was lightning in the air we could not properly taxi to our gate and had to wait another hour in the ground in this airplane. An hour later we finally felt the craft moving towards our gate. Shocker the plane only needed to taxi another 10 ft and we would have made it to our gate without delays, oh how I love traveling. 

Unfortunately that delay set our plans back a whole day, and as student travelers we could only afford to travel on the weekends. That meant we had to pack all we wanted to see in one whole day in Amsterdam. No biggie 

After arriving at the hotel we sought out to find some dinner as all of us had gone all day without anything to munch on. With the help of google maps and yelp we found a restaurant within walking distance of our hotel. The vibe of the city was quite and gloomy almost like we were walking around a different dimension. I had never experienced such quite city life, and it all made sense why. Everyone in Amsterdam rides their bikes everywhere. Not a whole lot of cars fill the street to make noise, it was quite peaceful to be honest. We used the rest of the night to figure out what short adventures we could find and asking locals was the best way to discover the city. 

I was very surprised to discover the locals in Amsterdam were so nice and accommodating. They offered suggestions on where to go and how to get there. Never did I felt judged or out of place as a tourist. There were times where we decided to take the tram to get where we needed to and the locals helped guide us on which stop to get off at and how to purchase tickets. I am forever thankful for the kindest in these peoples hearts. 

Day 2 we had no other choice but to split our group up to accomplish everyones bucket list items. Before doing so we decided have brunch together before venturing into the city. I have tried some pretty amazing brunch locations, but this one was the best one yet. When walking in the decor was to vintage and simple, the ideal Sunday brunch location. Not only was the food to die for, this was the first place in Europe that offered us ICED COFFFE. A delicacy that we had been deprived of in Barcelona. 

Our first bucket list item included a trip to the Heineken Experience. And an experience it was. I am not much of a beer drinker but the tour was quite fun and interactive that I now have a soft spot in my heart for Mr. Heineken. I highly recommend the tour if you are headed to the Netherlands with a group of friends. The tour game with 2 beers and a cannel tour. We figured we killed two birds with one stone for the price of 25 euros. 

Again another detail that I failed to mention was how attractive all the men were in the city. Going through all the tours wasn't so bad when you had a nice view to look at. 

Besides the beer and the men, the Heineken cannel tour led us straight to Europes Tallest Swing. Of course we had to go. The swing sits on top of a giant building overlooking the city, and for only 5 euros you can experience one of the greatest highs the city had to offer. No pun intended. 

Navigating the city was easy once you figured out the tram system. From the swing we took a boat and tram ride back into the city center for a late lunch/early dinner. After finding a small restaurant we took two steps our and smelt the sweet smell of waffles. Of course we had to try some Belgium waffles while in the Netherlands. I ordered mine with Nutella and bananas, I can still taste the sweetness hundreds of miles away. After that we entered a state of food coma that was not easy to recover from. We went to the hotel to nap it off and recharge for our last night in Amsterdam.

With most of our bucket list items checked off, it was time for one last item on our list. The Red Light District. With doing very little research about Amsterdam we were simply directed to check it out at night having no idea why it was so famous. And we found out rather quickly why it was notoriously known. Plain and simple, I was shocked. 

The break the shock off of the district we still wanted to enjoy ourselves in Amsterdam. We found a few pups to drop in for a drink or two and found a hole in the wall pup. I didn't catch the name of the pup or even where it was located, but the bartenders for whatever reason decided to friend us. Here we were 4 Americans, in a Irish pup in the Netherlands. This concept of globalization is why I love traveling. 

Finally our night came to a close at 2:00 AM with our new bartender friends. We made our way back to the hotel, packed our bags and were on another early flight to Spain. It was finally time to go home and head back to Barcelona for another long week.

My biggest take away from the Netherlands was their great hospitality and friendliness. And to think that Amsterdam was not on my top places to visit, now its probably one of my favorite places I've visited. Hope to see you soon Amsterdam. 


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