This past weekend I went to Amsterdam! It was one of the best weekends so far. I left Thursday afternoon taking Aer Lingus and arriving into Schiphol, the main airport in Amsterdam. I met my Richmond friends studying in Edinburgh at the airport and we took a train to the central station downtown. Our hotel, the Crowne Plaza was a really short walk from the train station. Once we arrived, we mentioned to the person checking us in that we planned on going to the Anne Frank House (where she lived a part of her life). Luckily, he recommended that we go late during the day and since it was around 5, we headed out there (this was a good decision because there was no line!). It was a pretty small attraction but it was a really interesting historical site to see. We then had dinner, where I tried bitterballen (a Dutch snack that is fried dough with meat inside) and then walked around afterwards, looking at the many scenic canals as well as the infamous Red Light District.
On Friday, we saw so many pieces of art. First, we went to the Rijksmuseum, a humongous art museum (and the most popular in the Netherlands) dedicated to many different types of art. The collection of the museum includes more than 2,000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age from famous painters such as Rembrandt (The Night Watch is a famous painting at the museum) and Johannes Vermeer. Afterwards, we went to the Van Gogh Museum, right across a beautiful green from the Rijksmuseum. The Van Gogh Museum contained a variety of his paintings, such as The Yellow House, Bedroom in Arles, and Almond Blossoms. Both of these museums are great and highly recommended for anyone even remotely interested in art. The rest of the day was spent exploring more of Amsterdam and admiring its most unique sights, the canals. That night, we went out to a square and enjoyed the atmosphere of night-time Amsterdam.
The next day, we decided to rent bikes. This was such a great idea because Amsterdam is probably the most bike-friendly city in the world and everyone uses them. There are basically bike paths alongside every street. We decided to discover the whole Amsterdam area. At first, we went up near the zoo area on the northeast side of the city, and went through some parks as well. We then went south towards the museum district area. We had a great lunch (my goat cheese sandwich was awesome) and then went through the old town area, where canals dominate the landscape. After this, we went up to the northwest area called Jordaan, which was very scenic. Also, we biked up to the riverfront north of the city near the train station on the Amstel River, another very scenic body of water. After going through some more parks and squares, we finally returned our bikes after a tough five hours of biking. We decided to then get souvenirs and rest in the hotel room after our long day (it was really nice having a much more comfortable bed than at UCD). We decided to go out for dinner with really no idea of what we wanted so naturally we got Mexican food while in Amsterdam. The fajitas were surprisingly tasty. For this last night, we just decided to walk around the city again and experience the great atmosphere of Amsterdam one last time.
Sunday, we woke up early to get catch our planes back to our host countries. I had a pretty uneventful plane ride and arrived in Dublin around 1:30 in the afternoon. I already miss Amsterdam because it was such a beautiful city but I look forward to future trips to other great European cities!