Have I spent the whole day in my pajamas? Yes. Have I had two cups of cappuccino, gone no further than the kitchen, and left my hair in its non-showered state? Have I eaten cereal for dinner because cooking pasta was too much work and I ate the last of my cheese two days ago? Yes. But I HAVE finished a letter, completed my short-story's revision for publication (crossed fingers), organized my photos, listened to four of Coldplay's albums, replied to my emails, and started this new blog! I call that success. Maybe all I need in order to be productive is to be anti-productive! I have discovered the secret to life!!! On that positive note, I'm now attempting the daunting task of trying to blog about my trip into the world of windmills, wooden shoes, white cheese, watery Heineken, wispy blonde hair/blue eyes, and the wicked city of Amsterdam. In other words, I visited Emily!
Train trip from Aachen - Amsterdam = 3.5 hours. To me, that 3.5 hours sounded like a magical adventure where I would board the Hogwarts express and see the magical landscape of Holland passing me by, each turn of the tracks a new world to see through the windows.
REALITY. Three and a half hours includes a twenty minute connection in the most boring train station in Europe, only to sit in one of the backwards-facing seats in the top of a very full train where the windows are smaller, and there is no leg room. The seats are strategically placed so that your feet have nowhere to go, and just far enough away from the wall so that in order to lean your head against the glass you have to tilt it at a neck-cramping angle. Not to mention the fact that the only way you know you've reached your destination is by listening to the static (fast-food drive-thru like) voice telling me in Dutch which station I'm at. Oh, and that magical Dutch country side? Yeah, it looks just like Missouri. Farms, farms, and more farms. Did I mention farms? The only distinguishing difference between Missouri farms and Dutch farms are that there are small canals that serve as irrigation ditches, and they break up the monotony. Oh, also in Missouri, you won't find a bright yellow passenger train pelting through the middle of a farm, scaring cows off in either direction. I did see a big white swan perched in a field every once in a while, which was rather odd.
When I finally arrived in Amsterdam, just about anything would've seemed wonderful after that train ride, but I was completely blown away with how beautiful it was. My expectations of Amsterdam were not high... get it?...high? ...hahaha, bad pun. Anyway. I was thinking prostitutes, coffee shops, trashy tourist shops, etc, etc. But I might go out on a limb here and say Amsterdam might just be my favorite city so far (well, it's a tie with London at least).
#1.) The canals!! I was not expecting that! I mean, I knew Amsterdam had canals. I knew it was below sea level. But I didn't realize how integral they were to the atmosphere of the city. They were everywhere. So in a normal walk/bike ride, we'd cross several canals. There were hardly times when we weren't walking along one canal or another. And they are spanned by stunning bridges (some even light up at night). The peaceful canals just turned everything into a picturesque scene, even the Red Light District! *I sort of begged Emily to take me there so I could experience it. Not a place I'd want to have a picnic in. But the canals made it better!
#2.) The architecture! It was clearly different from that in Germany. I'm not an architecture buff, so I wouldn't know how to describe it, but just trust me when I say it was beautiful. Lots of really old buildings, and they almost reminded me of something that you might find in more Eastern Europe like Turkey or Slovakia. Lots of red brick with white accents, and intricate detail and molding. Combine that with the canals, and let's just say I was a happy camper.
I'm not ashamed to say I'm pretty jealous that Emily gets to go to school in Amsterdam. What was I thinking?? Just kidding.
We visited a really cute town just outside of Amsterdam. Only after getting on the wrong train out of town, going way past our destination, taking the train back, then washing, rinsing and repeating. We finally made it to Zaanse Schans after walking past a stinky cocoa factory that smelled like chocolate poop. But you turn the corner, and BAM. Water and windmills.
There was a cheese store with free samples (YES, I tried every single free sample, fighting with any little girl over the biggest piece in the jar), and a wooden shoe shop!
Emily was a great guide took me to a bunch of her favorite places, restaurants, and bars in the hip, non-touristy parts of Amsterdam, which all turned out to be really cool. I felt as if I walked into a living, breathing, Pinterest world.
I got to see the Bibliotheek (one of the top 25 libraries in the world!) and we had dinner at the top where we got to overlook Amsterdam. Interestingly enough, the actual book sections weren't very fun to be in. They were pretty plain. But everything else was cool!
|The Kid's section ^^|
|Eh, we're in a library. Why not feast??|
I saw a lot of the touristy things too, like Dam Square, the Palace, Anne Frank's house and got my picture with this sign (I really liked the Queens face plastered on the Rijksmuseum behind it, nice touch for Queensday!).
|Anne Frank's house ^|
And (in case you weren't aware), Amsterdam has a pretty tacky side as well. Ooooh shocking! (I already mentioned I made a pit stop in the Red Light District)
|Yes, yes, there is a condom shaped like a giraffe.|
|Oh, hey Britain. Fancy meeting you here!|
|That's whatcha call a Monopoly.|
|BEST. CONTRAPTION. EVER. It's a beer bike!! There's beer on tap at the table, and everyone pedals with one person steering!!!!!!!!!!!!|
I'm going to do a separate post about my Queensday festivities later! Otherwise, this would be the never-ending post. I suppose that would be fitting for Amsterdam, but I'll spare your eyes for now. :)
PS. I changed the background of all my posts from now on so that they're a bit easier to read. Leave me a comment about what you think!