Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hello Amsterdam

School is basically going to be my life for the next two months. I have found some time in between studying/working on projects to write this blog post so here we go...


Spring Break Part 2! (If you didn't see my last blog post on my trip to Belgium click here) After taking a train to Amsterdam, we settled into our hotel. We stayed at the Linden Hotel in Jordaan. I like to consider it the Brooklyn of New York City. Slightly away from the center, there are a lot of young inhabitants and swanky shops. I would definitely recommend staying in Jordaan; peaceful yet only a bus away from the city center.

Waking up the next day, our first task was to find a place to eat. This was a slight challenge because we couldn't find any place was open. We ended up going to a dried goods store, and by my mom's request buying some dried mangos. The store clerk informed us that Dutch people don't really go out for breakfast and that might be why many places were not open. We ended up stumbling into a coffee shop (excuse me... store that sells coffee) called Headfirst. I ordered a latte and a blueberry muffin on the side. One thing to be noted: the muffin was amazing! Without a doubt, the best blueberry muffin I have ever had in my life. Not too sweet, a warm inside, and the slightly crunchy exterior.

Walking toward the city center, I did not forget to miss a photo op. I straight away took out my camera and snapped some shots.

We didn't have anything planned for the first half of the day so we explored the city by foot. A store that caught our attention was Anna & Nina. The store is filled with cute knick-knacks. They sell jewelry, decorative items, cute and funny stationary, and so much more. I really wanted the small notebook, as I've been into journalling recently, but I needed to be money-savvy and only purchase things that were necessary.

If anyone knows me, they will know that I LOVE macaroons. This is why I had to take this picture. 

I'm not sure what attracted me to this but it has become one of my favorite pictures from Amsterdam (even though there is nothing that says it was taken in Amsterdam). It's funny because this piece was attached to the side of a sketchy building in a dark alleyway. I guess art is truly everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes open.

After walking for a while, we were getting really hungry. While exploring the city, we spotted a chicken place near the city center called Hendriks that looked good so we decided to head back. We ordered two chickens (Green Herbs and Spicy) and an Onion Soup. All three were delicious. Definitely craving the chicken as I type. The whole atmosphere was great. There weren't that many people (in fact it was us and a couple). The music was great, definitely my kinda music. The decor was also really great as well. The exposed brick, the accent wall, the wooden beams, and the brown and green colors all created a cool and relaxed vibe.

Delicious Green Herbs Chicken & presentation gets an A+

Love the decor!

Later in the afternoon, we decided to do some hardcore tourist stuff. First stop windmills. We traveled to this 'town' that had some windmills that we could explore. We should have known that it would be commercialized when we signed up for the tour. The whole 'town' just seemed fake. Walking in, there was a guy taking our picture, and right there I knew that upon leaving they would ask us to buy the photo. The little shops were all colorful, which was pretty, but it didn't seem authentic.

We went inside the windmill house to get a short tour. Someone probably should have given a warning or something. Peanuts are the number one allergy and it was shocking to know that they let people in without a warning. Shells and smells everywhere. Luckily my allergy to peanuts is only severe when I consume them. 

Can this photo get any more Netherlands themed? (maybe add some wooden clogs though)

We jumped back onto the bus and headed to a cheese factory. I don't want to sound like a Debbie-Downer but I thought it was going to be an actual factory that showed some in-depth steps. Instead it was a cheese shop upstairs and displays of cheese wheels and old-fashioned machinery downstairs. By the end of the short presentation, they pushed us to buy their cheese and some people definitely feel into that trap.

My family likes to explore cities for the true beauty of it. We tend to veer away from tourist attractions and large crowds. One of the best parts of the tour was not the attractions themselves, but the little stuff in between. We walked alongside the water on our way to the cheese factory. Even though it was a cloudy day, the sea smell and air was cool and invigorating. Staring at the water was truly inspiring (panorama shot needed). When people say that large bodies of water make you feel so small, they are absolutely right. Opposite the water were quaint little beach houses. My family loves design and we spent a couple of minutes slowly walking, pointing at cute little houses and imagining a peaceful life living in them. If it were up to us, we probably would have sat in those little benches facing the water taking everything in.

Another fav pic. Everything in the picture is very harbor like.

The final stop on the tour was a town whose income relies heavily on the mass production of clogs. Almost all of the citizens contribute to making the wooden shoes. It was slightly weird navigating our way to the building. It felt almost like we were infiltrating them. A large group was walking on small, narrow paths weaving in and out of houses and getting so close to their houses that we could look inside their windows. Passing by, I looked into one of the window and there was an old man reading the newspaper. I don't know how they do it. If I was in their position, I would feel uncomfortable if complete strangers could see right through into my home.

The factory was pretty cool. The guy showed us and demoed the machines that carved the outside and shaved the inside. They really know how to 'milk it.' Right after the demonstration, we were herded right to the gift shop. We didn't buy anything but just got back on the bus headed back to the city.

Like I said, my family doesn't like to do the typical touristy things and we all didn't really like the tour, but we did see what we paid to see: windmills, cheese, and clogs. One additional thing that I believe needs mentioning is that there were hardly any historical facts. The tour guide didn't really say anything or know anything about the places that we visited. And what irritated me the most was the fact that our tour guide was not Dutch. I mean I don't know if I should really take her word for it considering she's not from The Netherlands. It would have been much better if the tour guide was a native. Having grown up there and experienced the lifestyle, I would take her word over any foreigner.

After a long day, we grabbed some food on the way back to the hotel and crashed. Nine whole miles, much greater than my typical four mile average.


Stay tuned for Day 2 in Amsterdam. I know this was maybe slightly on the rant side but trust me, the next couple days were so much better and better pictures are to come!

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