Last weekend’s puente (or long weekend, our first one!) was spent in my favorite place thus far, Amsterdam! While this is one of the few European cities I’ve already visited, I remembered loving it enough to make it a repeat trip. I’m thrilled to have done so because seeing it through the eyes of a legal drinker/semi-adult only added to the experience. I think this is the only city I’ve been to since August that I can actually see myself living in. The lifestyle here is laid back, but still efficient and it’s very traditional while still making way for multiculturalism. Plus I’m not in the 97th percentile for height amongst the country’s women. I’m predicting that when the time comes to learn a third language, I’ll have a very long and hard internal struggle of Dutch vs. Portuguese.
We stayed probably about 20 minutes from the city center by tram or bus (I wouldn’t know, we didn’t use public transportation besides getting to and from the airport). Walking it was about an hour and biking, maybe 30 minutes. While it wasn’t the most convenient place to stay, the area was beautiful, the people we stayed with and locals were friendly, the restaurants were delicious, and being near beautiful and iconic Vondelpark in the middle of fall was amazing. As students in Boston, we’re spoiled by how gorgeous the city gets during autumn and as new madrileños it’s been difficult living in a city where fall isn’t really a thing (the leaves seem to turn from green to brown overnight).
So here’s a quick photo/highlight summary of the trip:
- Bikes: biking is almost a necessity in Amsterdam. Not only does the number of bikes outnumber the number of cars, but it also outnumbers the amount of people in the city. We rented ours from StarBikes behind Centraal Station. I recommend this because 1. it was cheaper than MacBike or Yellow Bike and 2. it doesn’t have the tacky advertisements all over it that are a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist. While this was extremely stressful at times (Amsterdam bikers are about as aggressive and scary as New York drivers [somehow I kept my cool and only yelled at one clueless man, which I later felt remorse for]), it was an experience I wouldn’t trade! Bike lanes are much more efficient here and it’s a great way to see the city while getting from one place to another.
- Food: Since my mom is sort of, kind of Dutch (or is she? We’re all confused about it still) there are a bunch of foods that I knew I needed to eat while in the Netherlands. Starting of course with Droste chocolate. We used to eat these by the yard (no joke they used to have packages that must have been almost 3 feet long) until it became nearly impossible to find it in the US anymore. So I bought a variety pack in the airport and was in heaven. Obviously it’s all gone now since it’s been a week (who am I kidding the majority were gone in 48 hours), but it was delicious while it lasted! Next were patat frites with vlaamse mayo. I am definitely not a mayo person, but this had a garlicky taste and was actually magic in my mouth. The french fries were even better than Belgium (where I was this past weekend, post soon to come promise) so take advantage! Supposedly you can also get them with pinda sauce or peanut sauce, so I guess I’ll have to go back and try that. Of course there’s gouda cheese, my favorite, which I unfortunately didn’t eat at all this trip. We went to a cheese store and I was intimidated by the variety and my lack of cheese-knowledge so I walked out. Worst. Mistake. Ever. Eat all the cheese you can get your hands on. Last but not least are speculaas cookies. These are cinnamon-y gingerbread cookies that are just so crunchy and addicting. Before you know it half of the box you bought 2 hours ago will be in your now-pudgy belly. And you won’t regret a thing.
For fun, here’s a list of my ten word vocabulary in Dutch. Thanks mom! Somehow the ten words change daily, but I can never remember more than ten at a time. WEIRD. Yes I did google the spelling, no I’m not sorry.
- winkel– store
- pinda– peanut
- nee– no
- hallo– hello
- dank u– thank you
- engels– English
- kijk– look
- spreek je later– talk to you later
- kinderen– children
- bloem– flower
Strangely I can say no but not yes and peanut but not cashew, hmmmm.
That’s it for now! Hopefully I’ll have a short post about Brussels up this week for your viewing pleasure (yes that’s right, viewing not reading. You’ll see!). Anyways, hasta luego!