Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Project: Amsterdam; a.k.a. Two Greeks, a Finn, and an American

And now to discuss my weekend in Amsterdam, Holland.

Friday, November 8: I forced myself to wake up at 6:30, though I had gone to bed at 2:00, in order to grab coffee and breakfast in my room while I dressed and organized my luggage one last time for the weekend trip to Amsterdam.  WOOO!  At around 7:40, I met my two Greek buddies, Nikos and Kostas, outside of the building, to head to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), at which we would meet the rest of the group of travelers before boarding the bus and embarking on our journey.  The bus left around 9:00-9:30, and we knew that the bus ride was to be about six hours.  Most of us slept, I, of course, having drunk a large amount of coffee, could not sleep in the bus (also due to the fact that I cannot typically sleep in vehicles).  But around 14:30-15:30, we arrived in Amsterdam!  We had chosen our roommates for the Jugendherberge (youth hostel) in the bus, so once we arrived at the hostel, we only had to wait about 30 minutes to get checked in, and then we were able to move into the room and relax a bit!

The room in our hostel was AMAZING!!!  So clean; four beds (two on the floor, two bunked), which are way more comfortable than the bed in my room in Frankfurt; a large, warm shower; a toilet and sink (naturally; and a lot of room to move around.  My roommates for the weekend included my Greeks, Nikos, Kostas, and Oskar, my friend from Finland.

After freshening up from the long bus ride, the whole group of internationals got together to head into the inner city of Amsterdam to visit the monuments, take a tour, and, of course, visit the Red Light District (I am going to abbreviate this: RLD).  The bus ride to the city was about 30-40 minutes, and after we arrived, it had been dark for a while, we noticed that the entire city was lit-up!  Continuing on into the RLD, it was a very interesting, new, and entirely different experience than anything I have known before.  I do not mean that just because there were women standing in almost all of the windows, which are street level, but I also mean the neon lights which lit-up not only the streets, but which also lit-up the canals which ran down the middle of most of the RLD.

We had finished touring the RLD and other parts of the inner city, when we broke for some late dinner, and returned to walk to another part of the city to go to a party/bar.  The bar we ended up at was an Australian bar, and since Amsterdam is full of tourists and other international people, almost everybody in the bar spoke either English or Australian English.  My three roommates and I stayed from about 21:00 until 23:30, and then we grabbed some food and water on the way home before catching the last tram to the central station, from which we would take a night bus about 45 minutes to get back to our hostel.  After a bit of discussing, we decided we would wake up the following morning at 9:00 in order to get to breakfast before everyone else and have time to relax in the morning.

Saturday: As I said above, we woke at 9:00 and were down to breakfast shortly after.  And WOW! the breakfast was really something.  We had so much food, juice, and, of course the most important part of a Zach Herriges breakfast, coffee!!!  After breakfast, we were to meet at 11:00 to head back into the inner city to take a led tour.  While waiting, Nikos and I took part in a game of giant chess (the pieces were about as tall as my knees), which I unfortunately lost, but not without attempting to take every last piece!!  But I still lost.

We took the bus into the city and met up with our tour guide around the same place we were walking the day before.  Which looked something like this!  This is Dam Square on a Saturday morning in November.
 We were then lead on a tour of the RLD, which was actually a lot different during the day.  There were still women working, not as many, of course, and there were many, many people walking around.  After the tour of the RLD and Dam Square, we took a break for lunch around 1:00, and then continued on into the part of the city called Jordaan, in which the Anne Frank Museum and a few other monuments are located.  At around 14:30, we parted ways with our guide, and a group of friends and I headed south to try to visit the Rijksmuseum, one of the largest art museums, if not the largest, in Amsterdam.  Our back up plan was to visit the Van Gogh Museum, which would have also been cool to see.  Unfortunately, by the time we got down there, which was later than expected due to a tram being disabled entirely and having had to walk for about 45 minutes, we did not have enough time to visit either museum, before they closed, with enough time to get our 15€-worth out of the trip.  We did, however, get some experience out of it, for we were able to take pictures in front of the "I AMSTERDAM" monument/sign/thing which stands in front of the Rijksmuseum!

(Photo credit goes to my friend Adelaide, from whom I borrowed these pictures, since I did not take any of my own)

Since we were tired, hungry, cold, and were not able to go into any of the museums, we chose to head back into the city a bit, grab some warm, traditional.......New York-Style pizza (the second time in two days for me)!!  It was after dinner that we scampered through the rain, cold, and confusion of finding/asking for directions in a foreign city in order to find our way to the tram that would take us all the way back to our hostel.  We made it back, still wet and cold, but we then split up, once again to freshen up in our respective rooms, and to take some time to rest before the entire group met up at 22:00 to go out to another, much better party in the city.

Since I am hungry all the time, as most of you know, I spent the entire free-time time convincing my roommates to come down to the bar area to get some food.  Eventually we all went down at around 21:00.  At this time we ordered some Döner, and during our wait time, we played a game of Texas Hold'em Poker, using Jenga pieces as chips!  Our food was running late, and when we finally got it, we were disappointed.  Well, at least I was.  A Döner in Germany is practically an art-style, for which the Turkish-Germans pride themselves.  In Amsterdam, we were handed two slices of a pita bread-like roll which had been filled messily with practically tasteless chunks (yes, chunks, not thinly sliced deliciousness) of meat, which I assumed to be lamb; who knows.  We also were given some ridiculously sharp chili sauce, to add "flavor"/burning to said practically tasteless meat, along with some mild sauce, also adding flavor and eliminating the burning of the chili sauce.  I scarfed mine down, since they had come late, and then rushed up to my room (I took the stairs six floors up after eating a LOT of very greasy meat) to brush my teeth.  I thankfully did not vomit.  Moral of the story for anyone traveling to Amsterdam: a Döner in Amsterdam is not really a Döner.

We left the building around 22:30 to get to the party around 23:00.  After arriving, we had to wait outside, for the was some sort of mess up with the number of people we were bringing or something like that, but we were let in after about 20 minutes.  The party was on the second floor (or first floor if you are talking about European buildings), and we received glow stick glasses and/or ears!  It was a cool party; there was another floor above the floor in which we were dancing, and our group ended up there by the end of the night.  It was not until 2:00 that I realized what time it was, for we were having such a great time!!  But at that time, we decided to head outside to decide what to do next.  A few of the group went home by night bus, and a small group of friends and I went to a very delicious muffin shop (which was serving NORMAL muffins only, just to clarify).  From there we took a night bus to the central station, then another bus to our hostel.  It was roughly 4:00 when we arrived home.

Sunday: I know it has been a lot to read, but I am almost finished with the weekend!!  So my roommates and I woke again around 9:00-9:30 to head down to breakfast.  After breakfast, at around 11:00, we were to be all checked out of our rooms, store our luggage, and meet outside to go one last time into the city.  In the city, a group of friends and I went in the direction of Jordaan to attempt to gain entrance to the Anne Frank museum, which turned out to be an impossibility, due to the 300 people waiting in line.  We then decided to make an excursion of the area of Jordaan, known for some of its vintage shops and cafés.  It was during this time that we finally found a museum to visit: the Cheese museum!! haha Oh, well they had delicious cheese there anyways.  After that some of us went into a café to grab some coffee while the rest of the group went to purchase some souvenirs an see more of the city.  We met back up, took a group picture, seen below (one which I also borrowed from my friend Adelaide) in front of one of the many canals in Amsterdam, before taking the bus back to the hostel one last time to grab our luggage and head home.

The bus ride back took another six hours, which was spent reminiscing the weekend in a new city and talking as quietly as I could, so as not to wake the other 50 people on the bus, trying to sleep; I apparently have a voice which is deep and resonating; sleepy people do not like it.

When we finally arrived at the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, I had a strange feeling, as if I had just come home from being away from it for an extended period of time.  Huh, I guess I have become so accustomed to Frankfurt that it is becoming my new home, at least temporarily!   Do not worry, Mom and Dad, I will spend a few years in the US before contemplating my return trip!  :)

Well, if you are reading this hear, then you are really great for having read this entire post, considering its monstrosity!  Thank you once again, and I will make sure to keep up to date with any more interesting experiences I have!

1 comment:

  1. A cheese museum...once a Wisconsinite, always a Wisconsinite:)