Monday, April 22, 2013

Fried Food, Tulips, & The Red Light District

After years of hearing about The Netherlands from my Dutch friend Ronnie, who I met in Hawaii back in 2010, and desperately wanting to visit... I finally made it! 

The only downside... I picked the busiest weekend to be in Amsterdam. In case you weren't aware, April 20th or 4/20 the American let's smoke weed "Holiday". Because of the legalized marijuana this is obviously a very popular spot and the hostel prices were through the roof. My original travel plans fell through and I ended up going by myself, which might sound a bit scary, but with so many other people from my program going I knew there would plenty of people to hang around with. 

I took the quick flight, and then tried to find the bus that would take me to the center of the city. I walked outside and watched the bus which i'm supposed to get on turn the corner and run into a car. I start laughing because the bus doesn't even realize it and keeps driving. I mean it's funny... and no one but me thought that it was out of the ordinary which made it even funnier. 

A little while later, a different bus showed up and I made the 2 hour journey to the center of Amsterdam. I got there and had some time to myself to wander around until Ronnie got there. I met up with Ron Ron at the main train station, it was so good to see him after such a long time and on his home turf this time! We walked the streets, got plenty of fried food, and caught up. Although he had never really done the touristy things in Amsterdam it was nice to have a native dutch person to tell me what kinds of fried goodies to get out the wall.. Yep you can literally get fried food out of the wall, like a vending machine. I wouldn't go as far as saying that these were delicious but they were okay. About as good as you can expect after coming out of a wall. He had to catch an earlier train to get back to his hometown and it was a little sad saying goodbye. I'm not sure when i'll see him again but hopefully he will make the voyage to the states and decide to spend a little time in Utah.

They have some of the bittiest cars I have ever seen
Another insanely small truck, for being the tallest population
of people they have the smallest cars.
Parking garage for bikes
Classy Moulin Rouge in the red light district
French fries with mayonnaise for days!

Here is a compilation of photos that shows me trying to get a midair jump shot of Ron Ron in front of Centraal Station.

After walking Ronnie to the train station we said goodbye with the typical Dutch 3 cheek kisses and I headed back to meet up with some friends from my program at the bar under their hostel. I found it easily and spent the night bar hopping and walking through the red light district with the group that wasn't hitting up the coffee shops. I did have the chance to go into a few coffee shops and it was really interesting, because marijuana is legalized it really isn't a big deal, no bigger deal than someone buying a drink at the bar. 

We were lucky enough to have another Dutch local, Teun, who was friends with a girl in our group show us around for the rest of the night. We stopped at a square sat down at a pub to warm up. Teun needed to get some cash so he went to the ATM. 25 minutes later he shows up looking worried, and when we ask him if everything is okay after he took so long to go to the ATM he says he has a problem. I immediately think, "oh no, he got robbed". He then shows us a wad of cash and we are relieved that he didn't get robbed, he then says, "It's not my money". Apparently the man he was behind in line was on the phone and grabbed his card without grabbing the cash at the end of the transaction. Poor Teun grabbed the money and tried to find the guy after he realized he had left the money but with no luck. He felt really bad, but he knew if he turned the money over to the police they would just keep it. So, Teun ended up 250 euros richer by the end of the night. We walking around a bit more and by that time it was around midnight and I needed to catch the tram to get back to my hostel, Teun helped me grab the right tram and I headed back where I was in a room by myself with 5 other guys. I don't really find this awkward anymore, especially because I'm only there to drop my bag off and to sleep at night but I always get a little nervous about the odds of one of them snoring. I was so exhausted I fell right asleep and didn't notice and snoring. 

The next day I met up with the group again and we leisurely made our way to Anne Frank's house. It is simply amazing to see the stories of WWII in real life, in America I was always intrigued by the horrible things and stories but it becomes real when you visit museums like this. After Anne Frank's we stopped here and there and did a little souvenir shopping while eating more fried food in between  After, we made the jaunt down to the Van Gogh museum which unfortunately was closed but we were able to sit in the park, take pictures with the I Amsterdam sign, and see some tulips. We ended the day again with a walk through the red light district and then I jumped on the tram for a not so restful night of sleep. It must have been the exhaustion from the day before that enabled me to sleep through the snoring... but there was definitely snoring... and from more than one person. 

Line for the Anne Frank Museum
Mini hippie van
Holland shoe, boat
Brady Bunch Photo!
Rembrant Square

I ended up waking up around 7 the next morning because I couldn't sleep through the snoring any longer. I packed my bags, and didn't feel too guilty about the noise I was making after the racket they made all night long. I headed for the center of town, did some last minute shopping and had some french fries for breakfast. So much for dieting on vacation! I jumped on the bus and headed to the airport. The Dutch countryside is so quaint and adorable from the fields of pigs, Shetland ponies, and lambs I definitely want to revisit the Netherlands and see more of the countryside and smaller towns. 

Steepest stairs ever, daunting at any time of the day
Frenchies for breakfast!

After what feels like a billion and a half flights around Europe I've gotten pretty good at pulling out all my liquids, taking off shoes, belts, jackets, etc. and it still seems that I beep every time that I go through the security scanner. I got frisked... literally frisked, no part of my body was spared. Luckily by a lady but still.. awkward. They are really serious about security and especially about the transport of Marijuana from the Netherlands. Luckily, I passed the frisking test and was on my way back to Milan. 

I arrived to rain, which was a bummer and it's still raining today. However, tonight after I grabbed dinner at the school cafeteria it cleared up and was absolutely beautiful. Moments like this make me want to stay forever. I am excited to come home, but when the weather is good here it really makes me wish I could stay longer. There is nothing like a beautiful day in Italy. 

Needle at Cadorna station

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