Monday, April 22, 2013

Amsterdam: We Are Six

So a couple weeks ago, my friends and I decided to end Easter hols on a high note (no pun intended), by spending a week in Amsterdam. Roos lives there, so we were lucky enough to stay at her home. The six of us got some much needed time away from Oxford and work, and spent a lot of time together. This post will be mostly pictures, because that's the cool part, with some blurbs about what we did throughout.

I've got to say, I loved Amsterdam. It's unlike any city I've ever been to. It's busy but doesn't feel overcrowded - you can actually see the sky since buildings aren't over 4-5 stories. The canals prevent any "concrete jungle" feel like you get in London or New York. I really hope to go back again!

What good looking friends!

Our sleeping arrangment was one of the funniest parts of our trip - and definitely the cause of lots of bonding. Lindsay, Izzy, and I in the bed, Mike on a mattress next to us, Nick on an air mattress next to him, and Roos on her bed in the next room. Made for some funny moments, but also felt like a massive sleepover every night. #bonding.

Lots of bedtime giggles.
 Amsterdam is an amazing city! I knew everyone cycled, but it's pretty crazy to see in person. There are giant car parks for bicycles, and because there are so many bikes, people have to decorate their's in really unique ways to tell them apart. We even saw one with real bark, moss, and flowers. The architecture is a real stand-out as well. Most houses are 3-4 stories, and because they are so tall, the stairs are steep. STEEP. I had some trouble with that, especially in the Anne Frank house because I am terrified of stairs, but it all worked out in the end. Also, because you can't really move furniture or anything heavy up those stairs, most houses have a hook on the edge of the roof for that purpose. Old stores and warehouses are actually built tilted, so goods could be lifted without hitting the building. Fun fact for ya.

Besides going to the Anne Frank house, we also went to the Van Gogh Museum (mostly at my request). Both were incredible. We also went to the local market, supposedly "world famous," which was pretty much farmer's market meets flea market. Lots of cheese and juice, though.

But we were there for one reason...stroopwafels. These syrup-filled, thin waffels are delicious (but ridiculously sticky).

Action shot.
 Then we had a walk through the Red Light District. I didn't take pictures of the arguably more interesting parts of the Red Light District, but can google for yourself.

Also in the Red Light District, we visited "Our Lord in the Attic," a secret church built into a house when building Catholic churches was illegal in Amsterdam. It's literally just a normal house, until you come up a flight of stairs and see this...

Pretty amazing. And apparently time traveling me had already been there...

For our last night in Amsterdam, Lindsay and I decided to share an American feast of sorts, since we found an American food store while walking around. Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese (and lots of veggies on the side), and a heart-shaped funfetti cake. So American. Almost everyone felt sick afterwards, but I think they just weren't used to all that freedom. (JOKING!)

The Saturday was our last day in Amsterdam, but our flight wasn't until that evening, so we took a quick train out to the coast that morning. It was great to be on a beach and stand in the North Sea, even if it was freezing. 

Riding in trains with boys.

We returned to the city long enough to grab our bags and say goodbye to Roos' family before heading off to the airport. A quick flight and long bus ride later, I was back in Oxford and exhausted. But the good kind of exhausted. Mostly because I had such an amazing time with my friends. It was definitely a bonding trip for us all - I feel like our group dynamic got a lot closer, and I'm really happy we were all able to go together. I definitely fell in love with Amsterdam a bit while we were there. It's honestly one of the coolest, most unique cities I've ever seen. Fingers crossed I'll go back one day!

Jane xx

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