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Weekend Trips: Amsterdam

March 25, 2019
by Caroline Skinner
Before going abroad, I made a list of cities I wanted to visit before my time living in Europe was over. Amsterdam, Netherlands was the first city that came to mind. After how highly my mom spoke of her experience visiting the city during her time backpacking after college, it was always at the top of my bucket list. Two of my friends from my program and I stayed at the most beautiful boutique hotel called Hotel Mercier in the Jordaan neighborhood. Though this was about a 25-minute walk from the middle of town, I enjoyed every second walking the cobblestone streets full of art galleries, unique coffee shops, and what felt like hundreds of pastel-colored bikes lining the canals.  

Day 1: 

Our first day was dedicated to wandering around the city with no specific plans in mind. We went to breakfast at Coffee + Coconuts, an antique cinema turned beach-inspired breakfast spot. After drinking the best latte in the world (who knew lavender belonged in coffee?) and finishing our breakfast, we went to the Albert Cuyp Market. This street market filled over five blocks, with tents selling everything from stroopwaffles and tulips to vintage clothes and jewelry. We clocked in at about 8 miles walked by the time we strolled through the Floating Flower Market, wandered throughout all the canals, and went back to Jordaan for dinner. 


Day 2: 

We woke up early to get breakfast at The Avocado Show before our busy day of tours. It seemed like 10 a.m. was the perfect time to get to this unique breakfast spot, since before we even got our (again, amazing) coffee, a line had formed out the door. We rushed next door to the Heineken Brewery, and began our Rock the City Heineken Tour. After we were walked through the history of Heineken, which honestly made me assume the whole tour would be guides giving us a history lesson, we were brought into a room with floor-to-ceiling screens that gave us the “experience of a Heineken bottle’s life.” We then went to a huge distillery room that even had horses. The whole place seemed more like a theme park than a distillery, and we got three Heinekens out of it! After the distillery, we got onto a boat with glass ceilings and walls, and we took the beautiful 30-minute ride to the A’Dam Lookout. We went up 20 stories to the rooftop bar with amazing views of the city.

After the tour, we went to dinner at Moeder’s near Jordaan, a classic Dutch restaurant whose name literally translates to “Mother’s,” with walls covered with, well... photos of people’s moms. After a ridiculously filling dinner, we walked to the nearby Anne Frank Huis. It’s hard to put into words the way you feel during and after visiting, and the most I can say is it was humbling and surreal. We were guided around by our handheld audio tour, which included personal accounts of Anne’s father and loved ones. As Otto Frank wished, the rooms of the Annex were left empty, with photos of the furnished rooms on the wall. This made the experience more powerful, because you could be reading a blurb on the wall and realize you were standing in the spot Anne and her family ate or slept. Seeing the wall of Anne’s room with the original posters and newspaper clipping she had put there was when it hit the hardest. Reading Anne’s diaries in middle school was obviously very impactful; however, visiting the house gave it a completely different dimension. After leaving, the streets of Amsterdam felt completely different.

Day 3: 

Before leaving for the airport, we went to Pancakes Amsterdam. Here, we had traditional Dutch pancakes that resembled crepes, and mini Dutch pancakes called poffertjes. As a big pancake girl, I can genuinely say I’ll never have any as amazing as these. After grabbing our clog keychain souvenirs on the way out, we called our Uber to the airport.  

Amsterdam ended up blowing away my already sky-high expectations. I couldn’t recommend it more -- especially with CEA's brand-new study abroad location there. To learn more about the programs they offer in Amsterdam, click here

Caroline Skinner is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Blogger in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at University of South Carolina Columbia.
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