My feet hurt!
20.05.2011 - 22.05.2011 68 °F
Entering a Train station in a non English speaking country with zero percent previous experience was terrifying to say the least, especially a group of 20 of us. We did not plan to definitely all travel together, it just worked out that way with the train options and boy did it help us all out! With out brains put together(yes we needed 20 to successfully get there) ,3 train stops, mad rushes to new platforms, and a long 9 hour traveling day we arrived out our desired destination; Amsterdam. Instantly as we got off the train we all generally split up in our groups, every 4 or so people had planned different hostels together and naturally they were all over the city, I was with Nathan, Bree, Lexi, and Elana. Amsterdam's beautiful weather was our first impression which I had a hunch that it normally isn’t as nice as we got this weekend but I didn’t mind! The train station was a towering old building at the edge of the main canal that looks towards the rest of the city and with in a 5 minute walk we had arrived at our Hostel, Aivengo. The Hostel was not a hotel but wasn’t terrible either, it had attempted an Indian theme with bright colors and glass marbles on the floor but had chipped away over the years and now just looked like it needed a clean coat and a redue (but that’s my judgment). With checking in to our 20 person dorm, finding a square box approximately 15in. X 15in. and sheets that had tears and stains (added to my check list to purchase sheets and a towel for over here now), we ventured to find some dinner. A guy with in our hostel was very friendly and after a half hour of chatting and discovering his story we invited him to dinner as well. He was traveling the world for 2 months, he had grown up in Florida, graduated from North Carolina and got his MBI in Australia, where he currently lives. He was in Amsterdam for the week before traveling to Taiwan and with us 5 plus two others from our group that was in a hostel around the corner and him, we made great conversation! We wandered around for at least an hour in shock at the prices of any restaurant, we finally got so desperate we spoke to some police officers for advice on a cheap place to eat and we ended up in a BBQ kind of place. I purchased just a plate of friends and it cost me 7 euro, but with out having any food for the day expect a sandwich at the station, I was desperate. After dinner our new friend really wanted us to attend this event and he was very good at making it sound appealing, but quickly we discovered he was an undercover promoter! Hired to find youths and convince them to come to the event, the event was harmless but still, eye opener not to trust strangers.
The next morning we forced out selves awake in desperation to reach the Ann Frank museum before the rumored massive lines began. Making it a half hour walk to Ann frank, we joined a half hour queue at 9:30 am. Being a museum and me a college student, It did not sound that appealing but having read the Ann Frank book and learning so much a bout it in high school we all agreed it would be great to at least go, and boy were we glad! After nearly being tackled by security for taking this simple photo, I was unable to document the rest of the museum but it was Ann Franks actual house with artifacts and how they left this place in 1942 when they were discovered by the Nazi army. Videos of her Dad, Otto and talking about Ann, the workers Peep and Melp that helped them while in hiding, and other videos were in each room with little artifacts that were mentioned with in her diaries. In the last room her actual diaries were laid out and we were all able see them and confirm she actually existed and actually wrote a diary ( in contrast to current beliefs that she is a fraud). Nathan had never read the book and after hour or so walk through of her home, he was also feeling connected to the story, so needless to say it is a very good museum that I suggest! Afterward we instantly ventured to the Heineken Factory which was heard to be a must see museum/ tour. After another half hour of walking we made it to a factory that was set by its self apart from other buildings, the original Factory. The Tour lasted at least 2 hours and it consisted of a variety of things. Their were video rooms, virtual experience rooms with a ride, beer tasting, ingredients room, the process room, and through out it all there was history of how the famous Heineken brand had begun. This museum was also very impressive and my view on museums just MIGHT be changing. The Heineken factory was at the other end of Amsterdam from the Train station and my group desired to do a canal tour, which was at the train station, so the walking began again and after a stop at the “I Amsterdam”, and a while of walking we made it to a place with dozens of canal tour options! Because we had only a day to explore Amsterdam we all agreed that a canal tour was a must so that we could really see everything, it was now just the problem of figuring out which tour was the cheapest. We discovered one hour long tour that was 13 euro and we jumped on. Here are the pictures from the tour while we enjoyed a glass of wine!
The clock was approaching 7pm by the time the tour was over and our stomachs were growling, we had to find a restaurant to eat at and with our struggle from the day previously, we weren’t excited. The police officers from the night before were persistent with advising us we had to get Indonesian with in the time we were in Amsterdam since it was the food of choice for locals here, and us wanting to experience the culture. We ventured until we found an Indonesian place. I was under the impression it would be similar to Indian food which naturally made me completely okay with this food choice but it was definitely more Chinese. I had tomato soup and some rice on the side ( since everything else was meat or the only vegetarian option was 20 euro. So with that, I do not think I will be seeking out Indonesian ever again!
Traveling home the next morning consisted of a train from Amsterdam to Brussels, Brussels to Luxembourg city, a train to Esche, and then a bus to Differdange and then a 10 minute walk home and with travel sickness, it was an unpleasant traveling day to say the least and 12 hours later I made it back to my host family with clean sheets and a towel set laid out for me from my host Mom!