My first somewhat independent adventure, and I feel like I’m on an episode of the Amazing Race! To be quite honest, I think it has been easier landing in Amsterdam than Paris. English helps a lot. I successfully managed to take the bus to my hostel, and I saved myself a lot of money by not taking an Uber or taxi. I still can’t believe that I bought my own ticket and navigated a new country by myself. Definitely a bucket list experience. On the bus ride I got a glimpse of the pretty houses along the river. I can’t wait to explore more!
The bikes! Watch out for the bikes! I thought there was some sort of bike tour, but it appears that hordes of people ride bikes here. There might even be more bike traffic than people traffic! Our boat tour guide said there are 2,000,000 bikes and more bikes than residents. It was a little tricky navigating maps and avoiding a collision with a bicyclist.
Our first day in Amsterdam we walked 12 miles throughout the city! We started at the Albert Cuyp Market and I think it was my favorite part of Amsterdam. We tried poffertjes, which are mini pancakes with Nutella and strawberries, along with stroop waffles dipped in chocolate. Stroop waffles are thin and crunchy waffles with gooey syrup in the middle and are delicious when served warm. If you go to Amsterdam, it is a must-try. We found lots of good souvenirs at the market, and I got a cozy knit sweater. After the market we walked to A’DAM Lookout where we could see the whole city. It was a great way to get oriented.
Day 2 we did a day trip to Bruges, Belgium, a medieval town about three hours away from Amsterdam. Our tour guide was fantastic and gave us lots of cool facts on the way. Schiphol is the lowest airport in the world at 4 meters below sea level. The Netherlands means “low lands” and the highest point in the country is only 323 meters above sea level. You can find beautiful tulips and great vegetables in the Netherlands. They grow flowers near the airport so that they can be shipped quickly and they are the #1 exporter of flowers and vegetables.
I was confused by the whole Dutch/Holland thing, but our guide did a good job explaining. Dutch people were the first inhabitants of the Netherlands, so they are often called “Dutch.” Holland is kind of like a nickname for the Netherlands. It isn’t the correct name, but it’s shorter and easier to say, so that’s what locals call it.
We arrived in Bruges and were on a mission to accomplish the big 5 in Belgium: chocolate, waffles, lace, fries, and brews. We accomplished everything and had some delicious food (although we did not actually buy any lace). Belgium was very interesting because there are three official languages, and I heard a different one in each shop. Bruges was beautiful and had many old buildings and squares. It was a nice change of pace from Amsterdam city life. I left wanting to go back again!
Our last day was in Amsterdam, and we did more exploring and eating. We tried amazing ham, cheese, and onion pancakes at the Pancake Bakery. They were almost like crêpes and we put a little bit of their syrup on top for the perfect sweet and savory touch. We finished our weekend getaway with a walk through Vondel Park and it was a great way to recharge for the week ahead!
Until next time, Amsterdam!
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<p>I love everything water! I was a swimmer and water polo player in high school, and now I am on the rowing team at my school. When I'm not at practice I can frequently be found at the beach, pool, or on a hike.</p>