Amsterdam. The last stop on our two month tag team journey. From here, I would go on to Germany while Ashley would fly back to the States. Boarding the bus almost didn’t feel real, like we couldn’t already be at this point.
We got off the bus into the chilly night air, and thankfully there were two guys also buying Metro tickets, so they helped us figure out where we needed to go. After getting off the Metro, realizing we were 100% lost and needed a cab, we found our way to the hostel. Ashley had booked Stay Okay Vondelpark on HostelWorld, and luckily it was easy to find. We ventured out on the town to find some food (it was already around 8:30pm) and found a cute little Indian restaurant. The food was good, but we’ve had better.
The next day, we woke up to rain and icy winds blowing against our window. We had breakfast at the hostel (which included fruits and vegetables!!!!) and tried to go out into the city, but it was just to gross out. We settled on seeing a movie and went to Pathe Tuschinsky to see Pan. The theater lobby was beautiful, like going back in time. The gold trim mixed with the red velvet all around us made us feel slightly less bad that we were stuck inside in Amsterdam. The movie was bizarre, but interesting, and it did it’s job of using up some of our time.
I know it sounds lame, but we spent the rest of the day hanging out at the hostel, going to their bar and restaurant for cheep food and beer, and resting. After seven weeks of travel, a little rest wasn’t so bad.
Our third day in Amsterdam was a little more productive. We woke up early, and headed into town determined to beat the lines for the Anne Frank House Museum. It was still a drizzly and gray morning, but I couldn’t leave without seeing it. We waited in line for about a half hour, and then were let in.
It’s hard to describe the experience of walking through the house. On one side, it is fascinating to read about the history and to be able to put a location and real faces to the story we’ve been told since we were children in school learning and reading about Anne Frank. On the other, it is a harrowing and humbling walk through the pain and perserverance of a family just trying to survive. Standing in Anne’s bedroom, seeing how trapped they must have felt, was something I couldn’t quite process while it was happening. After the walk through the house and the museum, there is a movie that plays about people’s reactions to Anne Frank’s story. At the end, Kate Blanchette speaks and says, “Her would-haves are our opportunities.” That statement could not be more true, now more than ever.
After visiting the Anne Frank House, we were cold and looking for somewhere to sit and warm up. We found a little cafe called Koffie Huis De Hoek and ordered two bacon and egg sandwiches, a fresh mint tea for Ashley, and a hot chocolate for me. The food was perfect and so reasonably priced. The atmosphere was so cozy, and it was the perfect place to warm up.
Ashley had looked up the museums in the city, and so when she said, “The Sex Museum is only 4 euro!” I knew we had to go. It was an experience like none I have ever had, that is for sure. If you’re curious, just go visit for yourself!
We again had dinner at the hostel but, you’ll be happy to know, we both ordered the “healthy salad.”
Feeling healthy from the previous night’s salads, we decided to skip hostel breakfast and celebrate Ashley’s last day with a pancake breakfast at Der Vier Pilaren. We ordered one classic pancake and a small order of poffertjes. The pancake was like a thick crepe, and we ordered it with strawberries and whipped cream on top. The poffertjes, which are like little mini pancakes but fluffier, were drenched in butter and powdered sugar, and thinking about them right now is almost painful. That’s how good they were. I can’t even describe these little bites of amazingness.
That rectangle on top of the pancakes is butter. I need it.
Post pancake feast, we walked off our food babies by going in and out of stores, souvenir shopping and finding ourselves at H&M like we always do. (Seriously, I think there are at least 3 H&Ms per European city). We did wander in and out of a coffee shop, which was like walking into an alternate universe where bars are for ordering fine weeds instead of fine wines. It was fun to see, but I couldn’t help feeling like I was somewhere I didn’t quite belong.
We were stuffed so lunch was unnecessary and we decided to explore Vondelpark, the area next to our hostel. Looking at it from the street, it looks like this cute little park with a few benches and some trees. Turns out, the park is actually huge and you can walk through it for a few hours without seeing the same thing twice. There are cafes, restaurants, and lots of beautiful areas to see. Finally, the sun came out, so we were able to really appreciate the scene around us.
I couldn’t believe it was our final night. Two months had flown by. It felt like yesterday that Ashley and I were boarding the plane to Iceland, with no idea how the next eight weeks would go. We couldn’t have guessed the number of people we would meet, places we would see, and things we would learn. We hadn’t even fought once!
You can’t go to Amsterdam without seeing the Red Light District, so we saved it for the end. Gotta go out with a bang! We walked down the road, seeing where all the action should be, but realized we were too early. Aparantly we are grandmas and 8:30 isn’t late to anyone but us, so we decided to grab some dinner and come back. We stumbled upon Hofje van Wijs, the christmas lights hung over the entrance to the little outdoor seating area pulling us in. We sat outside although the interior looked adorable, and ordered a cheeseplate and an order of bitterballen. We each had a beer while we waited for our food.The cheeseplate looked beautiful, and had a nice assortment of cheeses. Bitterballen, a traditional dutch snack that I heard described as “little balls of fried gravy,” were odd but tasty. The texture was like nothing I’ve ever had but they were served with a delicious coarse mustard that made up for anything negative I could have said. We sat, ate, drank, and reminisced about our past two months together.
After dinner, we ventured back out to the main street of the Red Light District, now seeing it in full swing. Pointing at a replica made of a certain female body part, I looked at Ashley and said, “gross!” A guy who had apparently been walking behind us yelled to me, “Gross, but fun!” as he walked into a building above us. I couldn’t help but laugh and appreciate the attitude of this city. Every vice is available if you want it, but you can’t take it too seriously. While the prostitution and drugs may be more showy, there is a whole vibrant city outside of those things, and people in Amsterdam welcome you to balance the two worlds however you choose.
I climbed into bed with a heavy heart, excited to head to Germany to see Hannah (who you’ll hear a lot more about in the coming weeks), but also sad that this leg of the adventure was over. In the morning, we said our goodbyes as Ashley left for the airport (and to reunite with her dogs which I am so jealous of) and I made my way to the train station.
So here goes! It’s time to explore some more of this world on my own. Cue “Ridin Solo” by Jason Derulo.