Our adventure to Amsterdam began with an 11 hour bus ride… Not the classiest way to travel–with Megabus, you get what you pay for–but it got the job done. The two previous night bus trips I had taken (to and from Paris) went through the tunnel under the English Channel, but this one took the ferry, so we had to get off the bus and onto the ferry. Which was fun because we shared it with a giant group of screaming French middle schoolers (sarcasm).
We couldn’t get to Amsterdam fast enough, but finally we made it. After checking into the hotel, we found a cafe to eat at. Most of us had pancakes, which were delicious, and I had the tiniest little coffee you could imagine (no, not an espresso…). I can’t wait to be back in the States where you order a 2 dollar cup of coffee at a diner and they just keep filling it up. But the cafe had a cat, so that was pretty cool. After eating Mike, Hank, Jenna, and I went to a market to walk around before our reservation at the Van Gogh Museum (Mary had been to Amsterdam before, so she wanted to go visit her favorite church). On the walk there we found a cool park where Mike and Hank decided to do some “parkour.” They also insisted (the entire weekend) that I take “candid” photos of them. So here are a few of those beauties in slideshow form.
While we were at the market it started raining, so we quickly made our way through and stopped at the first restaurant/cafe we found–McDonald’s. We watched a homeless looking man (with a bucket of KFC…) get kicked out after the worker told him that he couldn’t drink beer in the restaurant. Right afterwards, Mike goes, “Well, I should probably put my shoes back on.” We are a classy bunch.
Eventually we met up with Mary at the Van Gogh Museum (but not before taking more “candids” with the famous Holland tulips). The museum was really cool (I love Van Gogh), but by the end of it I was so tired I could barely use the stairs. After finishing up in the museum we found a place to eat (an Italian restaurant). We then decided to head back to the hotel and basically go to bed (it was only like 8 pm, but we were so tired at that point we didn’t care). Mary and Jenna did leave once to go get us gelato. Fun story, we are all poor college students, so to cut down on prices we shoved five people into a two person hotel room. Mary, Jenna, and I slept on the (double) bed (sideways with our feet sticking off the side), and Mike and Hank got the honor of sleeping on the floor. It was arguably better than a night on the Megabus, but I don’t think any of us got much sleep the whole weekend.
We were up early the next morning to try to beat the line for the Anne Frank House. We showed up an hour before it opened, and lucky we did because once we arrived the line grew astronomically. It was worth the wait because it was probably one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. They didn’t actually have a lot of “stuff” but the few artifacts they did have, coupled with quotes from Anne’s diary, pictures, and video, was perfect. I definitely teared up a couple of times, most notably at the notches on the wall where the children were measured in the hiding place, and the picture of Otto Frank standing alone in the attic after the war (he was the sole survivor in the family). Seeing the actual house where they hid really makes me want to read her diary again.
After the Anne Frank House, we walked through the Red Light District (at about 10am on a Saturday morning, so not much was happening). There were just a few sad looking prostitutes in the windows, some smoking or checking their phones. It was just a sad, uncomfortable place to be, so we didn’t stay long. We walked around for awhile (wandering aimlessly was kind of a theme for the weekend), and eventually found our way to a park to sit in the sun for awhile. Eventually the boys got bored and tired and decided to throw rocks at pigeons (typical…). Then we decided to find food and sat at a crappy Asian food place for awhile listening to 90s R&B. More wandering with a break for Nutella and waffles.
After that we went back to the hotel to hang out somewhere with free coffee and wifi. We sat reading, talking, web browsing, and just hanging out in general. Mary drew us all, and the picture makes me happy. ❤
We set back out and did a giant loop of Amsterdam before ending up eating at Sara’s Pancake House, which was the best decision we made all weekend. It was a little pricey, but I got a chicken, cheese, and onion pancake that the waitress said I should put caramel syrup on . It was DELICIOUS. We finished off the meal with Bailey’s and hot chocolates all around.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel where Hank and Mike spent the evening looking forward to sleeping on the floor for another night, and their Megabus ride the next day. They took off early the next morning, and Mary soon followed. By 11 it was just Jenna and I, but we had a great time checking out the Jewish Quarter. We saw the Jewish History Museum and the Portuguese Synagogue (a nice break from the multitude of cathedrals in Europe).
Next we went to the Botannical Gardens and walked around looking at the flowers, butterflies, and plants. We found a rainforest greenhouse and a desert greenhouse and sat for awhile soaking up the heat (it’s been so cold… both in London and Amsterdam). It was nice to sit “outside” in a tshirt and be too warm. I can’t wait for summer.
After the gardens we found the most perfect little restaurant. It had FREE tap water (!!!!! Nowhere in Amsterdam had free tap water), wifi, a bathroom, and delicious food. Afterwards we poked around some shops, got gelato, and then headed toward the train station so I could catch my train. After saying goodbye, I caught my train to the bus station and psyked myself up for another Megabus ride. At first I thought I was going to be lucky and have a seat to myself… But I rejoiced too soon and was woken up in Rotterdam by a guy asking to sit with me. It made for an uncomfortable bus ride, but he was kind of attractive, and more importantly, silent, so I guess it could have been much worse.
The ride was mostly uneventful, except for when we were woken up at 2am by the bus driver blaring the horn and swerving away from people running out of the highway. They had apparently covered the road with tree branches (…???) so when we got to customs the bus driver apologized and said that someone would have to check the bus before we got out because of the “shenanigans of the immigrants.” ….. I’m still not entirely sure what happened but it was interesting.
I made it back to London half an hour later than scheduled (dang that Monday morning rush hour traffic) and rolled right into breakfast at 8:30, starving, exhausted, and ready to wash off 12 hours of Megabus grime.
All in all it was a great trip full of laughter and good friends. Well worth the two hellish bus rides and four nights of bad sleep.