Yes, this past weekend I left my safe zone in Ireland and ventured out further into Europe. I visited the capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam! It was full of amazing food and amazing people, I can’t believe I had to leave. I saw so many things I never thought I would see in my life (i.e. legal weed and the Red Light district, although I think you may have known that). Here’s what went out during my weekend in De ‘Dam….
After taking a late flight into the enormous Amsterdam Airport, we checked into a tiny hostel outside city centre. Being it was almost 10 pm and I had not eaten anything at the Dublin Airport, we started wandering looking for food.
It took a few tries, but we managed to find a place open late that was still serving food. Our waiter talked us out of ordering the chicken nuggets and into trying these cool little things the Dutch call Bitterballen. They were delicious, I wish we could have ordered more! My diet will probably thank me in the long run we only got one order, for the fried little balls of meat paired with the mustard dipping sauce was surprisingly delicous. We wandered around a little longer, ducking out of the way of many bikers racing down the streets and then peeking into the different coffeehouses lighting up the alleyways before calling it a night.
We got up early on Friday and set out to see the sights. First up; an art exhibit featuring the eccentric work of Banksy and Salvador Dali. Banksy is an anonymous street artist originally from England. Most of his work is found on the street, but he also did some work on canvas which was on display at this exhibit. Other pieces were taken straight from the source: one was taken from the side of a building, one was a traffic cone, another was just cardboard. His work was so dark, yet so intriguing. I took a few pictures of the ones that stood out to me, for it amazed me he was able to portray these seemingly-innocent images with such dark messages about war or the government.
Dali’s work was much more abstract than Banksy’s. Some remained black and white with very thin but dramatic lines, other were full of different reds, blues, and greens. The different quotes lining the walls were very cool, my favorite was “the ‘earth’ without art is just ‘eh’.” While they didn’t have “The Persistence Of Memory” they had different little statues paying tribute to it. One of them showed a clock melting over a little tree, and it may have been my favorite piece from his section of the exhibit, the irony being it wasn’t done by him.
We then wandered back out onto the green to see the “I Amsterdam” sign in the distance. An impromptu photo-shoot then occurred, trying not to get in other tourists pictures during the process. I was shocked at the amount of people climbing on top of the letters, and opted just to lean against the ‘e’ in the middle (E standing for Erin, of course!)
Next stop was a little flea market, selling everything from fresh fish to clothes to shoes, and of course, food. We came for the food and we were not disappointed. Stroopwafels may be my new favorite dessert. These thin pastries are filled with a caramel-molasses kind of syrup and it made my taste buds tingle. I could eat them for days and never grow old of the sweet flaky pastry.
The streets of Amsterdam may have been my favorite part. We did some window shopping, but I was more amazed by the architecture from hundreds of years ago. The bricks were all different colors, somehow arranged to compliment the other side perfectly. The canals flowing in front of the stoops were a murky green, hiding the thousands of bikes resting on the bottom. Little boats and little houseboats rested against the canal walls, rising and falling with the wakes of the canal boat tours going through every few minutes.
That night was a fun one. I found out how cheap beer was in Amsterdam, and also had some great pizza. We peeked into a coffeehouse and found out they aren’t really known for serving coffee. We walked through the Red Light District and while it was cool to see the lights at night, I instantly wanted to shower. No disrespect to the women working, but that was not my cup o’ tea. We even found the Amsterdam Ice Bar, a bar completely made out of ice. Even the glasses were solid ice! After we spent our 3 drink tokens, we were back on the street, walking back to the tiny room in the tiny hostel.
The streets of Amsterdam were hazy that Saturday morning, but I was lucky enough to meet up with my aunt’s lovely cousins. They welcomed us into their home, and were kind enough to take us on their boat around the canals once more. We got a more in-depth tour than the day before, including some mimosas and adorable puppies. It was super cool learning tips from some true locals, and getting some really cool photos along the way. I couldn’t thank them enough for their hospitality and their delicious dutch food, so if you’re reading this now, thank you again!
I was sad to leave so soon, I wish I could’ve stayed one more night to enjoy all Amsterdam has to offer. I’m already dreaming of going back, but I’m still glad to be back in my little room here at Maynooth. Who knows where I’ll travel to next! (Although I may have a few ideas…)
Until then, Sláinte!