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Adventure in Amsterdam

For me, fall break was about taking a risk. My roommate was going to stay in Florence because she had a friend visiting from home. But I knew that if I stayed here with her, I would feel like I barely traveled during this semester outside of Italy and I didn’t want to lose that opportunity. 

Of course I can’t go traveling all over by myself, so I wanted to do a trip like the ones I had been on through student travel companies like Bus2Alps or Florence for Fun. I liked the trip with Bus2Alps that offered London, Paris, and Amsterdam, but the trip started in London so I would have to fly there by myself and then meet them. I know I can’t handle flying that much by myself, so I wanted a trip that was entirely round-trip by bus. 

Florence for Fun offered their European Explorer trip that traveled to Prague, Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona. I signed up for that one, but about a week before this trip was supposed to start I was notified that the trip was cancelled because not enough people signed up. I was really upset. But then I found that Bus2Alps had a trip very similar but going to Berlin instead of Barcelona. I signed up for that trip after receiving my refund from Florence for Fun. I’m still disappointed that I haven’t gone to Barcelona, but I’ll go at some point in my life!

It would take a very long time to write about my whole week in one blog post, so I’ll focus on just one of the cities: Amsterdam. Everyone keeps asking me what my favorite city was of the trip, and it really is hard to say. I was very surprised how much I liked Prague. It was gorgeous and I had a really good time. Paris started out not very fun because it rained cats and dogs, which just put me in a sour mood. But by the end of those days I really enjoyed that city as well. It also rained a lot in Berlin. It had its positives, but overall not my favorite.

Amsterdam was wonderful. I could’ve taken a picture of every street corner; they were all so beautiful. I had a great walking tour that lead us first through the Red Light District. If you didn’t know, prostitution is legal here and this area is where it is concentrated. Even at 10 o’clock in the morning when we walked past there were already girls standing in the windows as merchandise to be bought.

The tour talked about the iconic row houses of Amsterdam. Many of which are crooked, leaning on the other houses for support as the foundation sinks. But they don’t mind. We also had a taste of delicious Dutch goat cheese, and at the end of the tour our guide brought us to a restaurant for a traditional Dutch dish. I don’t remember the Dutch name but it had potatoes, carrots, and other   vegetables all mashed together, and it came with either a sausage or meatball. I don’t like sausage so I chose the meatball, which was closer to a meatloaf and completely delicious on the cold and rainy day. After lunch I went to the Van Gogh Museum, which I was really excited for. The line took awhile but I was not disappointed! Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists and I loved seeing so much of his work, especially through the progression of his life.

The second day in Amsterdam my friends (who I met on the trip) and I all woke up early to get to the   Anne Frank museum before it opened. The lines are ridiculous and that was the best way to get in without much waiting. Totally worth it! I’m so glad I was able to have that experience firsthand. It was heartbreaking right from the beginning, just so powerful and humbling. After we toured through there I was able to meet up with a family friend. She is an American from (close to) my hometown who was good friends with my mom, and I hadn’t seen here since she moved to Amsterdam nine years ago! We walked through the beautiful streets, shopped at a flea market, had a great lunch, and finally went on a canal tour. That was a lot of fun, to see the city from that new angle of the canals. It was so interesting to see the houseboats, too. I couldn’t imagine living like that! I had a fantastic time in such a beautiful city. I know I need to come back for a longer stay. This was only the beginning!

Samantha Wood is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior at Salve Regina University. 

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