Our school’s spring break was the last week in March. David, Daniel, and I traveled with 4 of our friends to the Netherlands and Belgium. We flew into Amsterdam Saturday night and spent 2 days there.
I was super impressed with how modern and clean Amsterdam was in comparison to Ankara. Europe is so efficient! When we looked up the weather, we saw it was going to be cold. We had no idea it was going to be freezing. I wore tights under my jeans, double layered socks, had a scarf, hat, and gloves, and was still cold most of the time! We road the tram a lot to escape the cold.
We shared a 9-person room with a private bathroom at Hotel Van Gogh. The hostel was very modern and provided clean sheets and towels every day. They had a fantastic €5 buffet breakfast. Some of the desk workers were rude, but we would recommend staying there because of the amenities and location.
We spent our first full day walking around and checking out shops. Holland is known for its cheese, and we sampled a lot.
We never really ate “traditional” Flemish food, aside from a croquette appetizer at one restaurant. However, we thoroughly enjoyed the Mexican, Thai, Italian, and English food! Another place to note was Bagels and Beans. I ordered their avocado, tomato, and lettus bagel sandwich. Their honey and walnut cream cheese rocked my world. I told my friends I wanted an ice cream cone filled with that cream cheese it was so good. (I also loved their branding – just take a look at their menu!)
We also visited the Van Gogh Museum, which was temporarily in the Hermitage. No pictures were allowed in the exhibit, but we saw many of his most famous works including Sunflowers and Almond Branches in Bloom.
Amsterdam has bikes, bikes, and more bikes! David read there is roughly an average of 1.5 bicycles per person in Amsterdam. We didn’t rent any because it was so cold, but would have liked to. I thought for certain I’d get hit by one, but luckily most of them had bells and let you know they were coming.
One of my favorite things we saw was the Anne Frank House. This was the annex in her father’s business building where they hid for 2 years. I was surprised how large it was – I had always imagined it as a small, cramped couple of rooms. I was also surprised it was in a row of buildings right beside a canal. It was a moving experience to walk through the house and experience a piece of history.
Before we started traveling, I purchased The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene. I heard good reviews about the book and several of our students read it this semester. I had no idea that part of the story took place in Amsterdam! It was really cool to read the part about the characters visiting the Anne Frank House after having seen it myself.
The canals were so picturesque:
The architecture was beautiful, too. This is Amsterdam’s Grand Central Station:
I was super disappointed the weather was so cold, because I was hoping to see the tulip fields and the windmills. I doubted the fields were in bloom, and it was really too cold to take the day trip outside the city. We did visit one windmill within the city:
And I did see a few tulips in the tulip market:
And the canals were especially beautiful at night:
After a few days in Amsterdam, we took a train to Bruges, Belgium. More to come on that soon!