Monday, May 23, 2011

When you hear a bell, run like hell: Bicycle dodging in Amsterdam

So for Monday-Wednesday morning I had classes so I did that and Alyssa read...A LOT...and we just hung out and walked around a bit.  On Wednesday afternoon we left for...Amsterdam!! Yea, that's right, Alyssa and Sarah in Amsterdam, AND our friend from high school, Ali, who is studying in Scotland, met us there.  The first night our flight got in a little late so we just went straight to dinner, and Italian restaurant (Dutch food is not so good).  We were there for three hours just chatting and drinking wine.
Thursday: We started the day really early, met downstairs at 8 am so that we would have enough time to get breakfast and walk to the Anne Frank House.  We got there right before it opened so we were some of the first people in line and were, in fact, the only people in each room that we saw as we went through the museum.  We weren't allowed to take pictures, but I will never forget it.  The Secret Annex was a lot bigger than I had imagined, but I suppose spending 2 years enclosed anywhere would make it feel small.  I think what struck me most about it were all the quotes that had been painted on the wall from her diary.  Most specifically I was struck by the quote about her wanting to be a writer when she grew up since that is exactly what I wanted when I was her age.  (The picture is of the warehouse from the outside, across the river).  From there we went into a little cafe for coffee and lox & bagels (delicious!  My Jewish taste-buds were satiated).  From there we walked over the the Central Station for our 3 hour free walking tour.
The tour started with walking through the red light district, there were many more women in windows than I had anticipated for 11 am.  We also walked through the old Jewish Quarter, which is now an ugly street because they had to rebuild all the houses following the Winter of Starvation (local people took the wood from the furniture and supports out of the old Jewish houses after they had been deported so as to heat their own).  
The colorful building is from the old Jewish Quarter.  They decided to let architecture students in the 60s rebuild the houses...Silly idea.  The other building is an example of classic architecture, no I was not holding my camera oddly, the building was leaning.  All the buildings on the canals have their building foundations on pilons which are driven into the canal floor and the wood on this one must have been rotting.  No worries though, apparently they are checked every year.  Also, the buildings all used to be warehouses so the spices were stored in the top floor and in order to get them up there they had all the buildings leaning forward to avoid the boxes smashing in the windows...they could have made the cranes longer, but that would have been too easy.  From there we went back to the Dam Square and had a little break for lunch.  We then saw the Royal Palace

This is also from whence Louis Bonaparte uttered the immortal words, "Ik ben uw konijn" meaning I am your rabbit...he was going for koning which actually means king.  At this point we walked along the canals and back to the near the Anne Frank House.  From there we walked back to the Dam Square, got hot dogs for lunch and then went to the Sex Musuem for giggles.  From there we decided we needed a drink so we went to the Bols Cocktail and Genever Experience.  Basically they had a lot of different flavors of liquer and at the end you got to try some and got to print out the recipe for a special cocktail.  It was delicious.  From there we went back to the hostel and then out to dinner.  This time we had Chinese food.  
Friday: Alyssa and I went to the Van Gogh museum right as it opened, and as my father's daughter I made up lots of information about the various paintings.  After that we went on a Canal Cruise Tour in the morning.  And after the tour we walked over to the flower market.  Unfortunately none of the tulips were open so we just kind of walked up and down.  There was also a cheese store so we tried some delicious different types of cheese.  I ended up buying some delicious pesto goat cheese.  After that we found a Indonesian restaurant, which is supposed to be the best type of food in the Netherlands since Indonesia was part of the Dutch colonies.  After that we headed back to the hostel to grab our bags and on the way to the bus stop we passed the Diamond Museum and decided to go in, we got the I AMsterdam cards so the entrance was free.  After that short detour we finally got on the bus and off to the airport.  
This weekend we spent lazing around the apartment, watching movies and such things, and last night we had dinner with my family.  I think they wore Alyssa out with their constant talking and  WII Just Dance.  All in all it has been a good week.

Here are some pictures from Amsterdam that I took:

 bike parking garage
 the little old lady who lived in the shoe...

¡Hasta la semana que viene!

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