36 Hours in Amsterdam
As the days slowly came to an end along with my time in London, my friends and I decided to book a last minute weekend trip to the Netherlands.
I always wanted to visit Amsterdam but I'd be lying if I said that want didn't amplify when I read The Fault In Our Stars because it 100% did.
How did you get there?
My friends and I booked our bus ticket two weeks before our planned trip. If you know me, you know that I am an indecisive mess. My friends and I were back and forth between flying to Amsterdam or taking a ten hour bus to get there. In the end, we decided to sit in a moving vehicle for nearly a day with 40 other people. To be fair, we were all quite tired and didn't want the extra stress that usually comes with flying. Little did we know the stress that came with being on a bus for ten hours.
Amsterdam is 245 miles away from my flat in London.
When we decided to bus to Amsterdam, we chose the times that would better fit our schedule. Since Amsterdam was ten hours away, my friends and I chose to start our trip at 10 PM so we could sleep through the ride and arrive in Amsterdam in the morning. But sleeping did not come easy. Although the seats were comfortable, they were not my bed. The chances of sitting next to someone were also pretty high, which meant we could sit by ourselves and risk having a stranger sit next to us, or we could sit next to a friend and play it safe. I sat next to my friend and behind us sat the most annoying couple I have ever encountered. They argued the entire way to Dover where we boarded a ferry to Dunkirk in France. Aside from the annoying couple, the bus was okay.
If I could do it all over again, I would spend a couple of extra bucks and fly to Amsterdam instead.
Cost: £47.00 round trip | Time: 22 hours total | Transportation: Eurolines
It was very easy to travel to different cities throughout Europe while I studied abroad. My program was not as vigorous as other programs abroad so most of the students in my program traveled when we didn't have class, which was every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some of us didn't have classes on Mondays, which meant four day weekends and more trips. I had class on Mondays so I couldn't relate.
As the program came to an end, so did our travels but before we jumped on a twelve hour flight home, three of my friends and I decided to book a trip to Amsterdam. Most of us had already been to countries like Denmark and Spain but none of us visited The Netherlands.
I didn't know much about Amsterdam and didn't have a list of what to do or what to see when we were there. It's quite a funny thing. I love being organized. I like knowing what to do and when to do it and how to do it and what I'll need to get whatever it is done but while I lived in London and traveled, I never had a plan. I knew that having a list or plan would make things better in hindsight but I didn't want to and I think it was because I found a new sense of wonder and a new like in knowing that things were going to come as they did and I loved it.
So why Amsterdam? Why not.
What did you do?
There is so much to do and so much to see in Amsterdam. My favorite thing about the city was definitely its canals. You turned a corner and bammm a canal. You turned another corner and boooom another canal. There was literally a canal in front of my hostel. So if you find yourself in Amsterdam, please do love the canals. They won't be hard to find seeing that they're everywhere. Actually, Amsterdam has over 160 canals; 165 to be exact. Aside from the canal, we visited:
The Anne Frank House
Like many museums, the Anne Frank house did not allow photography or recording of any kind throughout the house. It wasn't a big deal for me, especially because as I walked throughout the house, I was so interested and enticed with everything I was reading and learning and seeing that taking pictures did not even grasp my mind. I learned about Anne Frank growing up and can vividly remember reading her diary when I was younger. Being in the house was an insane experience. As I climbed up the stairs (so many stairs by the way) I couldn't help but be overrun by hundreds of emotions. Just knowing that I was in the same house that Anne Frank was also in once was an emotionally draining experience but it was beautiful.
As explained on annefrank.org, "Anne Frank [was] a Jewish girl who [had] to go into hiding during World War Two to escape from the Nazis. Together with seven others she [hid] in the secret annex at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. After more than two years in hiding they [were] discovered and deported to concentration camps. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, [was] the only one of the eight people to survive. After her death Anne [became] world famous because of the diary she wrote while in hiding."
Location: Prinsengracht 263-267
Price: 9 euros per person
The Cheese Museum
When in Amsterdam, go cheese tasting for free. Not only can you get free cheese but while you stroll along the small museum that also serves as a store, you learn more about the history of cheese in Amsterdam. The Cheese Museum location is two stories, one full of cheese and the other full of history. You can also dress up as a traditional cheese farmer and take pictures that your family and friends will be so excited to see.
You can visit The Cheese Museum located at Prinsengracht 112, 1015 EA in Amsterdam.
Look at all the cheese. So gouda (wink wink).
The Fault In Our Stars Bench
I was a big fan of the John Green book as soon as it came out. I remember reading The Fault In Our Stars at least four-five times and I have no shame. As one would imagine, I freaked out when I found out that a movie adaptation of the book was going to be released. I freaked out ten times worse when I found out that Augustus Waters was going to be portrayed by Ansel Elgort. Being the big fan that I was, going to TFIOS bench was a must when I visited Amsterdam. Although it was basically just a bench, I was so so happy.
This location had two benches. The one to the right was the bench used in the film. The other, I honestly don't know. Both the benches had different words and names engraved onto them from people who came to visit the location. There was also a couple of locks on the bench. Love expressed through a lock; romantic. I didn't engrave my name or leave a lock because lets face it, I haven't found my Augustus Waters yet. I'm still waiting but until then, sitting on the bench and listening to the film soundtrack will do.
Also, once I left the bench and location, I realized that in the film the bench was shown from across the canal and not like my picture (lol).
Location: Leidsegracht #4
Times: open twenty four / seven
Bench Occupancy: for two, specifically Ana and Augustus... or Zayn
The Heineken Experience
I'm not much of a beer drinker but if I had to choose a favorite it would definitely be a Heineken. Heineken was created and born in Amsterdam in 1864 and has only grown since then. As the brand says, "born in Amsterdam and raised by the world". There are two breweries in the Netherlands and the one located in Amsterdam holds The Heineken Experience. The Heineken Experience gives people the chance to enter the brewery and learn more about the beers history, the way its made, the experience to learn how to properly drink the beer, and two free drinks that you can sip on while overlooking Amsterdam on the roof with a sick view that you will 100% miss when you leave.
Location: Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE Amsterdam
Price: €16.00 per adult but prices vary
You can't go to Amsterdam and not visit the I Amsterdam sign. The sign originally started as a marketing campaign for the city that quickly became an attraction after locals and visitors turned it into a collective phrase. The sign reads IAMSTERDAM but is read as I AM AMSTERDAM, meaning that you and me are Amsterdam, regardless of where we are from.
"It's ... the city's welcoming cheer. After all, Amsterdam is a city whose locals have been greeting travellers for centuries, and they don't mind sharing a sentiment they themselves hold so dear - that Amsterdam is for everyone." Beautiful.
What wasn't beautiful? The crowd. The sign was surrounded by hundreds of people throughout the day, as each tried to get a photograph next to their first initial or favorite letter. As I was getting my picture with the last A, after waiting ten minutes for people to get off of the letter, a family decided it would be a great idea to get a family picture on the M, that was next to the A, prompting my expression in the second image below. It's okay. It's a great story to tell now.
Location: Museumplein 1071 Amsterdam
Sign Occupancy: 18940184920592308293084324894023 people at once
WHAT DIDN'T YOU DO THAT YOU WISH YOU WOULD HAVE DONE?
I loved Amsterdam and wish I could've stayed longer. It's a city I can see myself living in. The people were kind and the streets were pretty.
Looking back at my trip, the thing I regret not doing the most is riding a bike throughout the city. Amsterdam is considered a bike city so as you walk along, you are passed by hundreds of people on bikes. My friends and I almost got run over just about four times. The people that we talked to were so kind but I also regret not talking to different locals. There were places in Europe that I visited and stayed with friends while I was there but we didn't visit or stay with a friend in Amsterdam, so we opted to stay in a hostel. Hostels are usually great places to meet other travels but the Hostel we stayed in wasn't as travel friendly. So if you do visit Amsterdam and whether you stay with a friend or not, talk to more locals. They tend to know more about the city and know great places to visit. Also, visit The Tulip Museum. Tulips have a big meaning in Holland (The Netherlands) and it's quite beautiful. The Tulip Museum is located next The Cheese Museum so I was able to snap this picture but unfortunately did not go inside.
Here's a little bit more about Tulips and Holland: www.holland.com/global/tourism/article/history-of-tulips-in-holland.htm
To Amsterdam: you were lovely. I miss you.
To you: visit Amsterdam.