Wednesday, January 7, 2015

amsterdam

2015 was kicked off with a roadtrip to Amsterdam. Me, Matt, Bethany and her dad Carl took off early in the morning on the 1st to drive through Germany up to the Netherlands. On our first night there we also met up with Kyle, Lauren and their friends who had celebrated the New Year's Eve there and were already about to leave the next morning. Speaking of New Year's, arriving on the first did not help Amsterdam to make a good first impression. The streets and canals were covered in garbage from the celebration. Thankfully that was cleaned up pretty quick, so the next days were a lot better in that sense.
As for major sights, the first place we wanted to go was Anne Frank House. After seeing a huge line on the first day, we decided to get up at 7 the next day to avoid this. So we "only" ended up waiting for two hours in the cold wind and rain. Nevertheless, I think that the museum told the story behind it in a very touching way. Definately worth the wait as we weren't able to book tickets ahead. For future travellers visiting Amsterdam I'd recommend doing some planning ahead and booking museum visits ahead if possible. Also, for European students, get yourself an European Youth Card, which gets you discounts in a lot of places. I figured that out just a little bit too late, but better luck next time. Another place we visited was the Heineken brewery, which in my opinion was not really worth the price and time standing in the line. Probably because I had already been to other breweries and they are all (or at least the part that's presented to tourists) more or less the same. Other than that we just explored around the city, took the ferry to the northern part, visited the open library and drank FEBO milkshakes all day long.
Amsterdam as a city left me with mixed emotions a little bit, though. I was expecting some sort of a wow-effect, which didn't really happen. The best of the city is sometimes hidden behind cheap (and by that, I don't mean money-wise) entertainment. The city is of course amazing with it's architecture and all the canals and bridges, but I felt like it was a little bit hard to capture from behind all the New Year's dirt and hords of tourists. All the real things that make Amsterdam important and interesting are hard to access, especially for student travellers, as every museum has an average 3 hour waiting line and a 10-15 euro ticket. By all means, I also like the free and liberal (or however you'd like to call it) laws and mindset in the Netherlands. But obviously as long as the country is one of the few of that kind, it'll be a some sort of a weird symbol that makes 90% of the souvenirs related to weed or sex. But I suppose that's also interesting in it's own way.
Anyway, I didn't mean for this to be so critical, but then again it feels nice to have some more serious talk on this blog other than just flooding it with photos all the time. After all, we had a great time, Amsterdam is a beautiful city and definately worth a visit! I could probably walk around and admire those tiny houses for weeks and I bet it's even prettier when it's not January outside. :)

On our way back, we decided to take a different route through Belgium and Luxembourg. Our first stop was Liege, which according to a friend of mine is the second ugliest city in Belgium (sorry, I left my camera in the car while we were there). Having not seen other parts of Belgium, I can't really comment on that, but at first sight it did look pretty ghetto. :D
The second stop was Luxembourg, which I found pretty cool. It reminded me of Liechtenstein and Switzerland a lot, mainy because of the obvious wealthiness at every corner. Anyway, I really liked the city and would definately not mind living there for a while!

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