Amsterdam: day 3.

Day three in Amsterdam was a very informative one! We let ourselves sleep in a little, then had breakfast at this cute little cafe. Our plan after that was to go to the Van Gogh Museum, but we had to wait in line for over an hour before. We waited, and it was probably worth it just to say we've seen some of his more famous pieces. After the museum, we took the train out to Sloten, a little town that sits on the very edge of Amsterdam. There, we got to tour a working windmill! This was probably my favorite part of Amsterdam, because we learned basically why Amsterdam is the way that it is.

Quick story: when our plane landed in Amsterdam, Brandon looked at his phone, and it said we were sitting below sea level. We were really confused, but we figured the phone probably was too. 

Back at the windmill, we learned that Amsterdam really does sit below sea level! In fact, many parts of it, including the airport, used to be lakes. They built windmills to pump the water out of the lake so they could use the land. The canals were built to gradually transfer water from the city back out to the sea. From where we stood on the windmill, we could see that the canal itself below us (not its water level) was lower than the canal across the bridge. So each of the canals pump water out and up and up and up until it makes its way back to the sea. Pretty cool, huh? The lady at the windmill mentioned multiple times that the windmills are there to "keep their feet dry." If you ever find yourself in the Netherlands, I highly recommend touring a working windmill!

We stopped for a snack on our way back to the city, and I had a Dutch croquette! It was basically just a deep fried roll of chicken in breadcrumbs, but it was really good. That afternoon, we went to the Tulip Museum, and learned that tulips aren't actually native to Amsterdam. They originated in Turkey, and were later brought to Holland. It was a full day of learning! After the tulip museum, we took a canal cruise! It was neat to see Amsterdam from a different perspective, but I far prefer to look at Amsterdam alongside the canals, not in them. But we did learn that a lot of people have houseboats, and that they live in the canals, which I thought was interesting. We also saw a giant parking garage for bikes. It was three levels, and just full of bikes. So full that we couldn't even tell what the structure was until we were right next to it; it was just a giant glimmering...thing haha.

My favorite part of that day was touring the windmill, because we just learned so much about the history of Amsterdam. Even though it's kind of weird that they chose to build a city in a place full of water, the windmills and canals sure make it beautiful!


Amsterdam: day 1.

There's a chance I could fit a majority of our trip into one post, but to save you a little, I've decided to break it up. So here we go!

A few months ago, Brandon and I decided that we needed to go on a vacation. We had just been to Disneyland, but we wanted to go somewhere new over my spring break, and for some reason, Amsterdam stuck out in my head as the place to go. Fast forward a little while, and we were on our way!

The Thursday before we left, we got a text that our flight had been delayed, and then Friday morning, Brandon got an email that one of our hotels had closed, and would not be refunding us due their cancellation policy. Shout out to Citi Card for disputing the charge and refunding us anyway! I thought for sure that these were signs of how the whole trip was going to be, but besides those two things, it actually went off without a hitch. Anyway! After a l o n g plane ride, we got to Amsterdam at about 11:00 am. We dropped our luggage off at the hotel, then headed to the Jordaan (pronounced Yordaan) area to see the canals and find some lunch! You guys, I could not get enough of the canals. Every time we walked over one, I stopped to take a picture. I realized after about five pictures that they all basically looked the same. But I still don't care!! They are so pretty!!

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel to take a short nap. Brandon and I woke up before James and Candis, so we wandered through Oosterpark for a bit. Everything was so green, and the trees were already in bloom!  Once we met up with the other two, we made our way to the Anne Frank House. We hadn't purchased tickets in advance, so we had to wait in a huge line. They told us is would be an hour and a half wait, and the house closed in about two hours, so we were really hopeful that the line would move quickly and we would make it in. And we did! I'm so glad we were able to tour the house, because it really put into perspective just how little we actually know about life during the Holocaust. Sure, we can read about it, and we can visit museums and watch movies, but being in the small space where the families were confined, walking on the creaky floor that they had to silently move over...I can't even begin to imagine what their lives must have been like. The house didn't have any furniture in it, and the whole time I just kept thinking, how could they fit a bed in here? How could these parents sleep in the kitchen when there's barely any room for a table? It's so crazy. And humbling.

We finished there at ten, then walked around to find food. Fun fact about Amsterdam: every restaurant not in tourist central closes their kitchen down way early. I don't remember exactly what time, but it was before we go to each of them.  We wandered the streets near the Anne Frank House, in and out of restaurants, then did the same with restaurants by our hotel, only to be disappointed that most places were only serving drinks. So on our very first night in the mystical, magical land of Amsterdam, we had McDonalds for dinner. But Big Mac is the same in every language, so really, maybe it could have been worse.