There are many things to be said about Amsterdam. It is a common destination for any European trip or euro trip movie. You hear many stories and rumors before ever entering the state. I’ll leave those to your imagination. You really have no idea what to expect. People did warn us to keep our stuff close at all times in Amsterdam, but I think that would be good advice no matter the city. Everywhere you go you should be on a look out. Considering a backpack was carrying all our belongings we had to be extra careful. One misstep could lead to a miserable trip. We arrived on train with no idea where to go. We looked for information and a place to stay. Luckily, Amsterdam was a city with many languages spoken. Sometimes Steve, Isaac, and myself would would have to ask a few people before finding the English speakers, but we eventually found them. Sometimes hand gestures were all we needed, unless the hand gestures were just telling us to go away.
We had been off the train for five minutes and my eyes were wandering around admiring everything about the city. With only a couple hours of sleep it may have been a mix of confusion and wonder in my eyes. Sleep was hard to come by at times. Our goal was to see as much as possible and the back of our eyelids was not a high priority. As I was walking, I began to see someone walking faster toward me. The lack of sleep may have led to some slight paranoia, but it was only because my backpack held everything I owned. It’s not safe to be trusting of everyone. As the person walked faster, I began walking slightly faster myself. As he got closer, he ran right past me and grabbed my backpack. He tugged it with my body jolting backwards. As I looked back, he continued walking while my bag was still attached to my back. As I turned my head slightly to me the right, I saw a trolley passing me and nearly missing me. The entire time the man saw the trolley coming and was only looking to push me out of the way. That was a close call and a kind deed by the stranger. It was easy to point out I was a tourist and I was unaware of the aggressive trollies in Amsterdam. Thanks to the man, everything was still attached to my body and the search for a place to stay continued. I had some pretty close calls with bikes also. There were more bikes than cars . Definitely good for the atmosphere, but it can lead to some dangerous walks around the city.
Finding a place always came down to sheer luck. We weren’t much for planning. We thought planning took away from the experience. Sometimes this led to difficult times, but we never regretted not planning. Well, not usually. It was time to see the city. The city had amazing architecture with many canals and bridges. You could simply walk around the city and enjoy the atmosphere. We never had a specific destination. We just attempted to meet people, see the city, and experience the culture. We made our way to the house of Anne Frank.
We had a chance to walk through the house where the families hid and seeing the life they lived during their time of hiding. It’s unimaginable what the families had to endure during hiding. We read the book and hear the horror stories, but to actually be in the house gave me new light into their situation. Throughout my trip, I was able to experience things from history rather than simply reading about them in a text book. Turning the words from books into reality was a surreal experience. It gave me a chill through my bones to experience the many places we read about in our history books.
All the cities we traveled to had interesting backgrounds with colorful histories. Amsterdam was known as one of the best planned cities in northern Europe with its interesting design of canals, dams, and bridges. It began as a fisherman’s city and became a large city for imports. There has always been a great deal of diversity and this continues today. People speak Dutch, but many can speak three or four languages. Amsterdam has a great deal of tourism and the Dutch people have risen to the challenge by learning many languages. You can walk down the street and hear up to ten different languages being spoken. Unfortunately, I only know one and a half languages. The half being French, but sometimes half doesn’t help. Luckily, English is a second language to most in Europe.
Amsterdam was another amazing experience and something I will never forget. The rest of Amsterdam I’ll leave up to your imagination. It’s truly a must see city because you can’t always believe everything you hear. It was off to Luxembourg next.
-Mike Minnock (Senior studying Integrated Marketing)