On Friday it rained all day, which was unfortunate because I had already been to all the museums I wanted to go to, and was planning to walk through the Jordaan. I waited around in the morning to see if the rain would let up, but when it didn’t, I decided to go out anyway!
I walked past the Anne Frank House and walked through Westerkerk, Jordaan’s Renaissance-era Protestant church where Rembrandt is buried in a pauper’s grave.
I met a cat in a vintage store and I fell in love.
I think we both fell in love.
My destination was Winkel 43, which serves famously delicious apple tart, a Dutch specialty. It’s located on the Noordermarkt square, where an outdoor market is held every Monday. I ate my apple tart outside, under an awning, because it was much cooler there, but it started pouring as soon as I sat down. I huddled under the awning with four other people: a couple from North Carolina and two Amsterdammers. As we all enjoyed our tart, we talked about where we came from and the Amsterdammers gave us advice about places to see. They were so interested to hear about Bhutan!
As the rain let up a little, I walked toward Central Station to catch the free five-minute ferry that takes you to Amsterdam Noord, the northern part of the city, which is across the harbor. The EYE Museum, which specializes in film, is there. Unfortunately they were in between exhibits, so I walked around a bit and then took the ferry back.
I walked through the small streets of the center again and stumbled upon an Asian neighborhood, just to the east of the Red Light District. I say Asian, generally, because it had Chinese, Thai, Surinamese, Indonesian, and many other stores and restaurants. There was even a temple!
I walked past a tour on this street, and the tour guide was saying that this is the highest point in the Netherlands… 1.3 meters above sea level. I’m not sure whether he was kidding, but he seemed pretty serious about it…
I grabbed a pint in the southern part of the center, and then headed back to the hostel because I was soaked and tired. I had a quiet night, grabbing dinner at the hostel’s bar and doing some last minute preparations for today’s flight.
Today I fly to Bangkok.
I’m sitting in a cute, wood-paneled breakfast place that serves mint tea with real mint leaves! My flight is at 9:40pm Amsterdam time and I arrive in Bangkok tomorrow at 1:40pm Bangkok time. Then I’ll be with the other SFS students, and we fly to Paro, Bhutan at 6:50am on September 7th.
I won’t have much Internet from now on, so posts will be less frequent. But I promise to post photos and stories from Bhutan! Please reach out to me about my travels. I love hearing from people back home and even those who find my blog and are interested! Feel free to request topics.
I’ll end this post by trying to sum up these last five days in Amsterdam, even though obviously that’s impossible. I’m just a tourist who has been here for a short while, but I am grateful to this city because it has given me confidence. I now know I can navigate a complex city alone, and I enjoy being independent and trying to discover as much as possible about the actual city, not the touristy parts. To all the American students studying abroad in Amsterdam, have fun, but I am off to wilder places!
A few things I learned in Amsterdam:
- Tea is not served in opaque cups, but in clear glasses. A small but startling difference.
- There are lots of steakhouses and Argentinian restaurants, especially in the center.
- If you look remotely Dutch, people will speak to you in Dutch (nice) and/or glare at you and yell Dutch swear words when you are slightly in the way of their bike (not so nice, it happened to me).
- A lot of people walk their dogs without a leash in Vondelpark.
- It’s almost scarier to cross the street here than in New York because there are bicycles, pedestrians, trams, buses, and cars, and they each go in both directions on each path or section of street that is designated for them. Organized chaos.
- Go to the city center once, to explore the small streets, but no more than that.
- Eat apple tart, pancakes, and mashed potatoes, and drink a lot of beer!