On the evening of March 7th, two of my close friends and I arrived in Amsterdam, and though tired from an afternoon of travel, we were immediately captivated. A city resting on the canals, like Venice, but unlike Venice, a city that felt alive and with people, stores, and districts to shock you at every turn. Though I would now say Amsterdam is my favorite city I have visited thus far, the city and I began on the wrong foot. Travel connoisseur Anthony Bourdain said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay.” That was the spirit I tried to adopt when my friend and I arrived at our hostel Thursday night. Unlike the pictures we had seen, the hostel was dingy, carpet was peeling, and when we entered the room to drop off our bags we had to wade our way though a sea of wet clothing, towels, stray phone chargers, and suitcases. Travel certainly did not seem pretty as we used our backpacks as pillows and attempted to sleep in the stuffy room with twelve other men who snored, yelled, and occupied the one-person bathroom to do god knows what the entire night long.
Though we weathered the storm of the first night and abided by Bourdain’s mantra dutifully, the thought of two more nights in that hostel was infringing upon our ability to enjoy Amsterdam, so while the rest of our roommates were fast asleep from partying the night before, we packed our bags and began the search for another hotel. Two hours and one stop for French fries later, Amsterdam began to assume the amusing, beautiful, relaxed, and kind glow I now perceive it in. With the horrors of the hostel behind us, we took in wonder after wonder: the Van Gogh museum, a boat tour on the canals, night walks with the throngs of people wandering the Red Light District, live music at hidden bars, the owners of our hotel offering to hand-prepare us breakfast, flea markets, flower stands, and bikes, bikes, bikes. Amsterdam is a city that exudes quiet pride, and after my weekend there, I can understand why- I hope to be biking down its canals and feasting my eyes upon its masses of tulips whenever I get my next chance.
PS- now I know that you can’t ever quite trust the pictures on a hostel website.
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:.4pt; margin-right:15.35pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.5pt"><span style="line-height:103%">I became a Psychology major by accident at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and now I have never been more certain that becoming a private practice therapist is what I was called to do in life. I also love to write, and am working on getting a short story of mine published with my creative writing professor. When I'm not reading or writing I love to hike and be outdoors too- I'm from Seattle and wish Dallas had a bit more rain and mountains, but I make do in Dallas with the BBQ.</span></p>