Adventuring in Amsterdam

This year, I swapped out a Halloween costume for a trip to Amsterdam. I was a bit sad to be missing Halloween in the USA, but Amsterdam has a naturally eerie feeling to it that I felt festive even without a costume. Our time in Amsterdam was limited, so my friends and I decided to take advantage of our time there by doing as many of the touristy attractions as possible.

TUESDAY // We arrived in Amsterdam early in the morning, and so we began our adventures  by searching for a place to eat–that turned out to be more difficult than we expected. We found a cute little Dutch cafe with fresh pastries. We all went for a tea and scone ensemble, which also included a slice of cake of your choice. Carrot cake for breakfast? A literal dream come true.

We then had a few drinks at Amsterdam’s Ice Bar. I was still in the midst of fighting off a cold while I was in Amsterdam, but a runny nose wasn’t going to stop me from sipping a Heineken (which comes from Amsterdam!) in a -9° C bar. Going to an ice bar has always been on my bucket list, which is why I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw it on the list of attractions.

Before you go in, you’re shown a scene showing a Dutch explorer on his journey to the Arctic in 1596. The scene is complete with Pirates of the Caribbean music and everything. It really sets the mood for the bar.

Everything in the bar is made of ice, including the seats on which you can sit. (Don’t worry, they’re covered by a fur-like material so you aren’t actually sitting on ice.) The cups and shot glass you drink from are also completely made of ice. Good thing you’re given a pair of gloves and a jacket before entering the ice cave.

Below is a photo of Sabrina and I, beer in hand. After my ice cold Heineken in a glass made of ice (and when I could no longer feel my hands), we had a shot of Vanilla Vodka together and headed out the door. I’m proud to say we were the last ones left in the bar. I think all those East Coast winters have made us more immune to the cold than we thought.

After the ice bar, we spent some time exploring and taking photos. We went to the Red Light Secrets Museum (museum of prostitution). The museum of prostitution is not something I’d normally decide to do on my own, but that’s why I’m glad I have friends who are interested in things that I think I’m not. The museum taught us so much regarding the history of Amsterdam’s Red Light District and the women who work there. It was a really eye-opening experience and something I’d recommend doing if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam.

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WEDNESDAY // Right after our breakfast, we went on a walk (for nice backdrops for our photos). Below are some of my favorites:

I knew that biking in Amsterdam was popular, but I was truly amazed by the amount of people on bikes. The bikes really dominate the street, and if you don’t look both ways, it is very easy to get run over by one of them. Going on a biking tour of Amsterdam is something we didn’t get to do (along with visiting the Anne Frank House), which means we’ll have to come back in the future.

I was also amazed by the architecture of the buildings that line the canal. They have a similarity to them, but are very different at the same time. I love that you can take a photo in front of them and everyone automatically knows the photo is from Amsterdam.

Sabrina and Karla, the true fans of The Fault in Our Stars that they are, sent us on a mission to find the famous bench from the saddest scene in the entire movie. They did their best Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters impersonations, and I snapped the photo from across the canal.

The actual scene in the movie is incredibly sad; I remember sobbing while watching it. Watching my friends try to be romantic with each other, however, was hilarious. The bench also has its own geo-tag on Instagram: The Fault in Our Stars Bench. That also served to get a laugh out of us.

Later that afternoon, we went to the Van Gogh Museum, an art museum dedicated to the works and life of Vincent Van Gogh,. The Van Gogh Museum is hands down the greatest museum I’ve ever been to. The museum combines art, history, and even science to show Van Gogh’s work in a new light. There is an incredibly detailed timeline showing the most pivotal moments of his life, as well as microscopes that you can use to get a more detailed view of his paintings, and the restorations made. We spent three hours in the museum and it still wasn’t enough time–I was completely mesmerized. (Perhaps because Van Gogh is one of, if not, my favorite painter). My only complaint is that the museum doesn’t have The Starry Night, which I would have loved to see.

Below is a photo I snapped of my favorite painting in the museum, Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, or what I like to call Cowboy Van Gogh. I have seen Van Gogh portraits before, but this was the first time I had seen this particular one. I loved the painting so much that I couldn’t resist buying a beautiful metal bookmark with a cut out of it and Van Gogh’s signature. The bookworm in me couldn’t think of a more perfect souvenir to remember the museum by.

We ended our last night in Amsterdam by going on a boat tour of the city. I didn’t take any photos because it was so dark, but seeing the city from on the canal grants you a completely new perspective. I recognized more of the city after the tour, so I would suggest doing the tour before doing anything else in the city. I also enjoyed hearing the history of Amsterdam as we glided across the water.

THURSDAY // Our last day in Amsterdam was spent walking through the charming city once more and avoiding getting run over by bikes. While Amsterdam isn’t as big as I had originally thought, there is plenty to do if you look for it. I can’t think of a better way to spend Halloween than exploring a new city with my lovely friends.

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