Amsterdam!!! <3

So I came here thinking I would fall in love with France & actually ended up falling more in love with Amsterdam. It is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen with a magical atmosphere & the people are so nice. Also I must say the Dutch language fascinates me greatly – if I were to imagine what gibberish sounds like, I would probably hear Dutch. If you’re not paying attention, it sounds like English until you realize you don’t understand anything and it also looks nonsensical. I did learn some words though: danke = thank you, straat = street… that’s about all. I took megabus for the 1st time which was 2 hours delayed so probably won’t take that again, but we got to our extremely beautiful flat, the best airbnb I’ve ever stayed at (out of 2) but I feel like it was a 5 star hotel. We had a rooftop terrace with a view over all the buildings, & our host welcomed us with free champagne, eggs, and a weirdly addicting Dutch snack called nibbs. On Saturday, we explored the market which was huge and I saw things I have never seen before: entire stands just selling every type of olive, different types of mushrooms, build-your-own trail mix with dried fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and all different types of pasta just to name a few cool things. For breakfast, we stopped at a stall run by a culinary woman who made us sausage (braatworst) crepes. For lunch, we had a bratwurst & sauerkraut sandwich with split pea soup. For snacks, we had stroopwaffels (everyone’s favorite), truffel cheese, croissants filled with custard & covered in chocolate, and Dutch pancakes. I guess you can say we tried to conquer all Dutch cuisine in 1 weekend and were almost successful!

VERY IMPORTANT SIDENOTE: When you think of Amsterdam, you think of tulips. I saw every other flower imaginable, EXCEPT for tulips!!! Such a disappointment 😦

Now here is where my true courage came in; I have never been good at bike riding, always hated it & gotten injured multiple times. As you may know, Amsterdam is the land of the bikes so of course we had to bike around the town. This was the most fearful yet exhilarating experience in my life! We rented old bikes (because for some reason old worn down bikes are the fashion rather than new 1s that make you look like a tourist) and biked to the city center. I haven’t rode a bike since around elementary school, and here I am in Amsterdam biking to the city center in this rickety old bike with no front brakes or bell having no clue about any traffic rules & no GPS. I almost crashed quite a few times near the center since we were riding alongside cars, scooters, and pedestrians & my butt was extremely sore but WOW, was it amazing to see the city fly past with all the buildings, fresh flowers, and canals.

At night you know what we had to experience: the Red Light District of course! That was QUITE the experience and I think I’ll just leave it at that xD
Since this trip was very last minute, we didn’t get a chance to reserve tickets for the Anne Frank House or Van Gogh Museum in advance. We walked by both but the lines were all at least an hour long and we only had until 3:00pm before our train left for Lille, sadly. The only thing I must say I regret is missing a boat tour. We were supposed to go on a boat tour with brunch but missed the boat  Also sad, but I am going on a boat tour in Bruges, the Venice of Belgium, on Wednesday so that will make up for the missed 1 in Amsterdam!

More thoughts about Europe in general so far:
1. There’s a good chance I could get second smoke from all the cigarette and “non-cigarette” smoke in the air. You don’t realize how clear the air in the States is (at least Florida) until you’re surrounded in a smoke cloud 24/7.
2. Yes, it’s legal to drink here but no, drinks are not cheap (at bars/clubs at least).
3. So glad I invested in a pair of black flats from Aerosoles. They have brought me through all the miles on the cobblestone roads without making me look like the typical tourist with white tennis shoes. My cheap Florida sandals would have certainly failed me miserably here!