This past week has been filled with a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Well, really just one big low. But I’d rather focus on the highs first. Amsterdam was amazing. It was so different from Barcelona or anywhere I’ve been so far this summer and it was just the perfect change of pace that came at the perfect time right in the middle of my trip. We left early in the morning on Thursday and got there at around 2 p.m. because our flight was delayed a little, but none of us cared because we all slept from the second we boarded the plane until the second it landed. A huge group of UF students from Barcelona all went that weekend, and even though we didn’t get to stay together the entire weekend, it was nice knowing that there were familiar faces walking around the unfamiliar city struggling to dodge bikers just like we were. I stayed with four friends in an Airbnb meant for two people, but it wasn’t bad at all. We saved money and I actually think that man’s couch was more comfortable than my bed in Barcelona.
So the first day we basically just wandered around the city admiring the canals and discovering the joy of free cheese samples in about every store we passed. When we got tired of wandering and cheese tasting we stopped and got ice cream. Then of course ice cream wasn’t enough so I also got a waffle covered in melted chocolate. I seriously could have died right then and there and my life would have been complete; it was that good. That night we went to Leidseplein plaza and quickly realized that simply walking down the street gets you free or discounted drink offers from restaurant and bar employees desperate for business. After dinner (and discounted drinks) we took advantage of all the offers and bar hopped a little before settling at one toward the center of the plaza that advertised 10 jager shots for 10 euros. That was by far the best night of the trip. We made friends with a bunch of locals, stayed out late, and ubered home. It doesn’t sound that exciting when I say it like that but making friends with locals was kind of a big deal because we had actual English conversations with them. Everyone there speaks perfect English. And the uber. One of the only things I hate about Barcelona is their lack of Uber. So it was basically like a night out in America except we were in Amsterdam which obviously made it 100 times cooler.
The next day we did more exploring and more eating. We went to the Rijks Museum then the overcrowded I Amsterdam letters and spent at least 45 minutes trying to get a picture that didn’t look like random people were posing with us. Friday’s food finds were a restaurant called Pancake Bakery that literally put full meals on pancakes. We got one with two scoops of ice cream and stroopwaffle baked into it (stroopwaffle: two thin waffles with caramel in the middle; best thing you will ever have ever) and one with cheese, bacon, and apples, which was weirdly delicious. Later we got fries with mayonnaise and curry ketchup. I’m obsessed with European mayonnaise. To everyone who thinks I’m disgusting for using mayo as a topping for fries, there’s no way to explain myself other than to say it’s not like U.S. mayo. It’s just better, and you have to try to it understand. That night we got a bottle of wine and a blanket and went to sit in Vondelpark, which was beautiful just like the rest of the city. We had an earlier night Friday to prepare for our day of super tourism Saturday.
Saturday morning we went on a countryside bike tour and I could probably write a whole essay about how incredible it was so I’ll just stick to saying it was incredible. The grass was so green, the sheep were so fluffy, and all the little towns looked like something out of a Disney movie. After that we went straight to the Anne Frank museum, which was also incredible. It was surreal to walk through the actual rooms she and her family lived in and I thought it was even cooler because I’ve never read the book so I didn’t know her story that well. After Anne Frank we headed to our canal cruise, which was a relaxing break before the Heineken Experience tour. If I could recommend one touristy thing to do in Amsterdam (besides eating the mayonnaise and stroopwaffles) it would this tour. There were games and simulations and barley tastings and it was probably the least boring tour I’ve ever been on. Plus you get two free beers afterward so even if you go and hate the tour at least there’s a happy ending. Speaking of the free beer, while we were drinking it we noticed that all the employees were extremely attractive. It was almost like Heineken is the job you apply for after you get rejected from the male modeling industry. Or a part time job while you’re also a male model. Either way, we started talking to one of them and asking him for good places to go out and he told us about this bar right around the corner that apparently all the Heineken people go after work. So after dinner we were walking around trying to decide what to do when we ran into the bar he was talking about and decided to check it out because why not. Sure enough, as soon as we walked in we were greeted by the beautiful angelic faces of 10 Heineken models/employees. We hung out with them there for a while but went home kind of early because our flight was at 10 a.m. the next day.
Things I learned in Amsterdam:
- People get offended if you ask them if they speak English
- I still like Uber way better than taking cabs
- Stroopwaffles are a gift from heaven and mayonnaise can go on anything
- Drivers have literally no rules
- Dutch people really really like biking and really really don’t like it when you get in their way while they’re biking
- I want to go back
I got back to Barcelona around noon on Sunday so naturally I went straight to the beach and laid out until 5. It was the first day I’ve been able to have a real beach day since I’ve been here and it was so nice. And that pretty much sums up the highs so I guess I have to move on to what happened at dinner after the beach.
To top off my great weekend my roommates and I went to our favorite restaurant, Champanillos, and ordered our usual tapas and sangria. The place is such a random little hole in the wall restaurant that’s not in a busy area at all, so it’s the last place I expected to get everything of importance stolen from me. We were so excited to finally get an outside table, but I guess we didn’t realize how much more vulnerable that made us. I set my phone down on the table (bad idea) and went to talk to my friends at another table for maybe two minutes. When I came back my phone was gone and my roommates said a guy came up with a sign asking for money and put it on the table then left right after they said no. Since they didn’t know my phone was sitting there, they didn’t realize what was happening. The worst part is that I had a phone case that conveniently held my debit card, ID, and 50-ride metro card. So that happened. I guess it was inevitable for me or one of my friends to get their phone stolen at some point. Fortunately, I already received my new card in the mail, metro passes are easily replaceable, and my friend brought an extra old phone she’s letting me borrow, so it could be worse.
Lessons learned in Barcelona this week:
- Don’t leave your phone on a restaurant table ever
- Pickpocketers have no mercy for girls that have already gone through three phones this year