Thursday, October 7th
After the long and stressful 2-day school week I had to get away ;)
After class on Thursday, Colin, Logan, and I boarded a plane and took the weekend to explore Amsterdam. There was a metro strike in Athens, so we had to take a cab to the airport. There also happened to be an airplane strike that day, so we freaked out that our flight might be cancelled. When we got to the counter to check-in, we found out our flight was not cancelled, but that it was pushed up for take-off because all planes would be grounded after 3pm. This meant we had about 15 minutes to get through security and to our gate for boarding. Logan and I had watched "Get Him to the Greek" the night before so we quickly repeated the stand out phrase- we have 35 minutes to catch an international flight.. no big deal, except we only had 15. We ran through the airport like in the movies, waited in the long security line with other panicked travelers, and finally made it to our gate! We had about 30 seconds to spare :)
The flight went really well. There was some minor turbulence, but nothing too bad. When we were flying over Amsterdam it was really funny to see all of the grow houses for their ever-so-popular coffeeshops.
We collected our luggage, and began to find some public transportation to our hotel. We navigated the local train schedule, hopped on the bullet train, and ended up at Central Station. From there we took a taxi to our hotel. Our taxi driver spoke a little Greek, so we had a broken Greek conversation with our driver until we got to the hotel.
After the long day of travel we got to our room, and plopped onto our beds. The beds were the most comfortable tempurpedic mattresses I have EVER slept on! I could not believe I was in Amersterdam!!!
Friday, October 8th
Today we woke up around 9am, and headed out to explore the city. We bought an Iamsterdam card. This card allows the holder free or discounted admission to just about every museum in the city. It also provides you with a free public transportation card that can work on every public transportation source in the city. We took out our maps, and our list of museums and hit just about every museum we could in the three days we had to explore the city.
We also went on a canal cruise of the city. We were able to see all of the Amsterdam from the waterways! All of the buildings were slanted and very old. The stairs in the buildings were very steep- so steep that furniture cannot be carried up the stairs. Instead there are large, removal windows in every building and a pulley system hanging from the every roof. When someone moves, or needs to bring something into the house, they open the windows and pulley the item into their house.
It was really cool to see the streets/bike lanes in Amsterdam. There was a bike lane, one car lane, and a lane for the tram. There were more bikes than cars in Amsterdam which was really cool to see. People used their bikes as the primary source of transportation, so they rode in the rain, sun, or after dark. There were baskets on the front for children to sit in, or to put bags in. Many people had a seat on the back of their bike for passengers. It was just so different than anything I had ever seen before and I really liked it :)
On Saturday we went to the Heineken Experience, which is a tour of the Heineken brewing company in Amsterdam. There was a museum in the beginning of the tour, and interactive booths throughout. We went on a ride, watched old commercials, and of course tasted the latest batch of beer.
After the tour, we walked to a bus stop, and took it over to the water. We found an hour long pancake cruise there, and waited for the next ferry to pull in. We sat on the top deck and were able to see all around us! During that hour, we ate sooo many pancakes. There were bacon pancakes, apple pancakes, sugar pancakes, jelly pancakes, and of course some plain ones. There was also a bar set up where you could choose from different kinds of fruit, jelly, sugar, sprinkles, chocolate, nuts, etc. to put on your pancakes. The only thing they didnt have was syrup. The boat and all of Amsterdam served powered sugar with their pancakes.
On Sunday we went to Madame Tussaud's wax museum. At the beginning of the museum was a section dedicated to the history of Amsterdam, with all of its historical figures. After we were able to see all of the Dutch celebrities in wax. Mr. Heineken was in the museum, along with Van Gogh. There were also many international celebrities in the museum. My favorite wax figure was Tiesto. He is from Holland, and I was able to see him a few weeks ago in Athens. Naturally I had to take a picture with him.
On Sunday we also went to the Anne Frank House. We waited in line to get in, and then were able to explore the whole house. We went through the bookcase door that kept her housing secluded, and were able to go through the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and to the attic where Anne used to hang out. There were diary entries written all over the walls talking about different places in the house where she used to write in her diary. It was so surreal to see the pictures and magazines cut-outs that Anne Frank herself had actually put on the wall only decades ago. It was a very educational experience, and I am very happy that I went.
The trip to Amsterdam was absolutely amazing, and so much fun! We were also able to go to some educational places during the trip as well. By the time we left Amsterdam we had been to the Tulip Museum, the Diamond Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, the Dutch Museum, Van Gogh Museum, the Purse Museum, Riijksmuseum, and Amsterdam's Historisch Museum. I loved Amsterdam so much and would love to go back there again someday. I might even want to live there- it left a great impression on me :)
As always hanging out, keepin it classy in Athens and beyond :)