DAY 21: 25 January, 2014
Morning came quickly on Saturday and we were all excited to see beautiful Amsterdam in the daylight. ‘Daylight’ is a loose term because the weather was nothing above gloomy and I never truly saw the sun. Until this weekend I thought London was cold and was awoken by the colder Netherlands air. I really should not complain because this weather was NOTHING compared to the endless snowstorms my family and friends were living through back in New England.
When I think of a city with canals, Venice comes to mind instantly. Amsterdam has beautiful canals and boats everywhere (with a much more logical layout than Venice).
We ventured out into the area around Vondelpark (I’m really sad to say that despite staying literally right outside Vondelpark, I never went into it and explored) and hit up H&M for some clothes shopping. You may be shaking your head at that but I swear H&M in Europe is SO MUCH BETTER than in America. There’s actual organization within the store and the clothes appear to be of much better quality. Plus, in every city the clothes in H&M are different, which is always fun.
Around 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon we met up with the guys to go to the Heineken tour. This was my second favorite event of the entire weekend! It was so much fun. My friend’s dad was able to get us all free tickets and I am so grateful because it saved me about 18 euros. During the several hours of the Heineken Experience we learned historical facts about the beer, took a lot of pictures, officially taste tested a half pint and received two free pints at the end. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hit up the Heineken gift shop afterwards to buy one or two things…
After leaving Heineken we walked around the area in search of dinner. We ended up at Hard Rock Café. In retrospect I could have lived without eating here since I spent a whopping 30 euros on my meal and it’s not exactly native cuisine. Despite that, dinner with 15 people is always a fun time, especially when the entire table orders strawberry daiquiris. I ordered the phenomenal red, white and blue burger and actually finished it. That’s skill.
Dinner basically left me on the brink of collapse because of my full stomach. The entire group headed back to our hostel so that we could form evening plans. Everyone agreed on signing up for a Red Light Pub Crawl through the Red Light District. This is something we couldn’t not do.
Remember when I said that about 30 UConn students were in Amsterdam this weekend? Well, we all signed up for the pub crawl. About half of the group had already seen the Red Light District. I had not been there yet and knew I could not return home to tell the story of my trip to Amsterdam without having even caught a glimpse of the notorious Red Light District.
My thoughts on it? Dirty, gross, dirty, not clean and very dirty. This was the only pub crawl I have been on up to this date in my life and I kind of regret the way I chose to experience it. Before signing up about half the group was having doubts as to whether or not they wanted to do it or go out at all and I was the loud voice shouting YOLO (don’t hate me), YOAO (you only Amsterdam once), NO REGRETS!!!! Finally everyone agreed to it and I ended up being a little bit of a party pooper because I was not in a partying or money spending mood. At each new bar I was required to open my mouth while a stranger at the door poured in a mysterious liquor and I did not like this at all. I disliked not being in control of what I was drinking and how much, so this was not an enjoyable experience for me. Looking back, I’m really glad that I convinced my friends to go and have a good time but I wish I made more of an effort to enjoy it. Now, I have a t-shirt to remember the night and terrible images of scantily dressed ladies in windows of alleyways.
Unfortunately, I did not get any photos of Red Light District but perhaps that’s fortunate for you because it’s not a pretty sight.
America I miss you. Despite the fact that Amsterdam is one of the most relaxed capitals I have ever visited (for obvious reasons), I still love my red, white and blue free home. As a result of the news I read, what I have learned at my internship and the things I have witnessed, I am very grateful that I was lucky enough to be born in the suburbs of New England and not in Syria or Ukraine or another part of the world.