Weekend in Amsterdam, Netherlands
22.01.2016 - 24.01.2016 40 °F
As promised, here is my second post, about my second journey. This post is titled "Dam, I Love Europe" because it is so incredibly true.
The fun started on the train to Amsterdam. After changing three times in Cologne, Venlo, and Eindhoven and finally aboard the final train into the city, it was pronounced "broken" and wouldn't be taking us all the way to its destination. It would be stopping halfway in a small city where we would be left to find our own way. Fortunately there were quite a lot of people heading to Amsterdam as well, and we were told by a helpful station worker to run towards platform 5 where we would catch a train to the next city, but have to switch again there. This new train was standing room only--there were so many people put out from our old train that we were packed in there like the West Campus bus on a Thursday afternoon. After having gone only two stops (technically only one, the train missed the first stop completely) the new train was pronounced defunct as well. After about 10 minutes of waiting in the train at the station hoping what was being said over the intercom wasn't important, a new train appeared out of nowhere that would take us to the next city. At this point, any movement in a forward direction was progress. This time we did not make the mistake of joining the first car we could. We ran all the way to the back of the train before anyone else got there, and were able to sit down for the first time in an hour. Thankfully this train did not break and we made it to the next city, Utrecht. From there we caught the final leg into the city, and only arrived about an hour and a half later than we were supposed to. All in all, not a huge disaster for being aboard two broken trains and missing one stop. What amazes me is how simple the whole process was: there was no ticket checking, rebooking, chaos, fees, wait time. They even conjured up a new train on command when the second one broke. Efficient mass transport is one reason why I love Europe.
Amsterdam was easily the coolest city I've ever been to. The fact that much of Western Netherlands was reclaimed from the sea with technology that is over 200 years old blows my mind. The city itself is beautiful, historical, and bustling. I've always loved cities where there's been a lot of large scale planning. With Amsterdam, the entire city is built around the still-functioning canals, with 3 prominent rings of waterways surrounding the city center. The Port of Amsterdam was the hub of the Dutch East India Trading Company during the 17th century, and the immense system of canals and locks no doubt built on the historical significance of the port. I definitely recommend taking a boat tour; they're cheap, in any language, and provided a good context for the city that I walked 35,000+ steps in. The Anne Frank house is as awing and eerie as I imagined, and the line was indeed huge. My squad of 10 made the trip together and this time slept in a 6 person bedroom rather than a 4 person--much more space! We toured the Heineken factory, which offered some amazing views (and beer) as one of the highest points in the city, and walked through the Red Light district. I also met up with my friend Mikki (a world-traveler this semester) and had some amazing Dutch Pancakes the size of a pizza. The city left a really good impression on me. It is a charming and historical city full of nice people, and I look forward to visiting again. Another reason why I love Europe.
And that's all I got.