Wow. I cannot believe how much time has flown by! Ever since returning from Amsterdam, I have been caught up in a whirlwind of getting back to the normal world, including a new class load, extracurriculars, and work. But after being home from Amsterdam for over a month, the experience is still fresh on my mind and I have been craving to go back ever since.
My adventure in Amsterdam was more incredible than I had dreamed. It was eye opening, breathtaking, and perfect in every way. We did, saw, and experienced so many things, and as I continue to get the question, “what was your favorite part?”, I have decided that I do not have an answer. Because of this, I have decided to make an Amsterdam Top Ten with my top ten favorite places, food, thoughts, experiences, etc., that came from my week in Europe. Enjoy!
1. The Food!
Okay, I am going to have to do a whole separate blog post just about the food in the Netherlands. I did not have one single meal that I did not love! I especially had fun trying the classic foods only found in the Netherlands, like Bitterballen, Stroopwaffels, Dutch fries, and more.
2. The Restaurants
Yes, this needs it’s own paragraph as well. What I loved about the restaurants in Amsterdam was the uniqueness of them all. There are hardly any chain restaurants in Amsterdam (except for the occasional McDonalds, which you can find anywhere- don’t worry, I did not visit one on my trip). The majority of the restaurants you will find in Amsterdam are cute mom & pop cafes and bars. And not a single restaurant disappointed me!
3. The Art
The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum were two of my favorite places we visited in Amsterdam. Being an art minor, I really loved being able to see The Night Watch, The Milkmaid, Sunflowers, and many more beautiful pieces these museums had to offer. Even if you aren’t interested in art as much as I am, these two museums were beautiful and worth the time!
4. The Culture
As many people may know, Amsterdam is a topic of controversy when it comes to certain things that are legal in Amsterdam. While I did not partake in any of these recreational, legal activities, I did have the opportunity to see how it impacts the culture in Amsterdam. And I have to say, I was surprised. Seeing how normal and safe these things were really changed my view. Everything in Amsterdam is regulated and monitored, so whatever activity you choose to partake in, it will be done safely. It just seems funny to me, because things like marijuana and prostitution in the US are illegal, yet we have so many issues with it. The culture in Amsterdam is so open and friendly, and I never once felt unsafe. Just something interesting to think about.
5. The Architecture
All of the buildings in Amsterdam are gorgeous. Most of the buildings in the city are original, dating back to 1300s. You will not find many new buildings in the city, just a lot of old buildings that are kept up with. The canal houses are skinny and tall. The churches are big and extravagant. There is so much history just in the architecture, and I love that there is nothing exactly like this anywhere else in the world.
7. The Coffee
8. The Street Markets
What fun places to shop! There are many street markets all over the city, we visited three of the main markets while we were there. You can find a market open any day of the week, and you can shop for anything from souvenirs, to tulip bulbs, to clothes, to bicycles, to food, and even wooden shoes! Most of these markets were a better deal and much more fun to shop at than many of the souvenir shops or local stores.
9. Navigating the City
This was so much easier than I expected. Our group learned how to navigate the city the hard way the first day when our teacher got separated from the group on the tram (ops). Funny story for another time… By walking and taking trams, I was basically able to figure out the layout of the city within the first few days! I never got lost (or too lost), and not to mention I felt completely safe the entire time I was there!
10. The Museums
Other than the art museums, we visited probably 15+ other museums and monuments while we were there! My favorites were Anne Frank, Willet Holthuysen, and Our Lord in the Attic. I am usually not a museum person, but I had a lot of fun! I learned so much about Amsterdam’s culture and history and I never once got bored.
After this trip, my travel bug has only become worse. I could not have asked for a better first trip to Europe, and I cannot wait to continue to follow my dreams of seeing the rest of what our world has to offer.
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