4. November 2015

Travel: Amsterdam weekend trip

“.. the smell of canals and cigarette smoke, all the people sitting outside the cafés drinking beer, saying their r's and g's in a way I'd never learn. I missed the future. Obviously I knew even before this recurrance that I'd never grow old with Augustus Waters. But thinking about Lidewij and her boyfriend, I felt robbed. I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up you can't make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn't see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again. That is probably true even if you live to be ninety.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

As I live in Germany, the Nederlands shouldn´t seem so far away that I never made it across the border into this beautiful country. But now, as an Erasmus student I finally made it to the Nederlands. I know, being in the airport of Amsterdam doesn´t count, so I really had to see the city one day. This day (or weekend) had come and now a new city and country is tucked off my list. With the flixbus, the journey to Amsterdam takes only 2,5 to 3 hours and it´s not at all expensive. We struggled to find a cheap hostel in the city centre but in the end we found a place to stay in the Budget Hostel Princess, close to the Leidseplein. It wasn´t that cheap and without breakfast, but as it was really close to the Vondelpark, we were able to go for a sunday morning run in the foggy but beautiful parc. 

In Amsterdam, the best way to explore the city is walking around or renting a bike. We didn´t plan walk from sight to sight but we somehow managed to see all the "must sees" without looking for them. We had a wonderful coffee and cake in a cute café at the Oude Kerk after we got thrown out of a restaurant (that was way worse compared to what we found at the curch) because only one of us wanted to eat something. That has never happened to me before and it didn´t make Amsterdam a place where I would call people friendly. But sure, this was only one person and it was for the better. We also saw the palace accidentally and also the red light district was something we just stumbled into. The best about Amsterdam is the look of the houses and canals. So I really enjoyed walking around, looking at tha houses and the water. 

One point on my list was definetely the Anne Frank House. We had to stand in line for about one hour but it was absolutely worth it. The story of Anne Frank made me feel so sad and at the same time so happy about our life in freedom. I see Anne Frank´s story as a symbol and memorial for all the people who died in WWII and the need to remind ourselves what happened in the past and what we have to do and think in the future. 

I wasn´t really sure about the main food in the Nederlands but I think they are really proud of their Gouda cheese. I tasted the original one and I think it´s really nice. Besides from that, I recommend exploring Amsterdam without any plans, so you get to enjoy the small lanes, the cute shops and cafés.

And one or two words to the freedom of buying and smoking Cannabis in Holland: For me, drugs are something  I have ever and will forever stay away from. In Amsterdam, you can see and smell it everywhere. I would have liked the city way more without it, but in a way it belongs to the atmosphere of the city, too.

The Royal Palace - Koninklijk Paleis

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