I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.
I’ll start out with the worst part of Amsterdam, the cold. According to the weather website, it was supposed to be in the low 40s. However, we found that the weather was actually around the 30s. Furthermore, due to the fog, the air is quite humid, so it felt even colder than it actually was.
We arrived early afternoon on NYE and checked into Generator, our hostel. After grabbing a quick dinner at the hostel restaurant, we walked into the city to checkout De Wallen, or Red Light District as we know it. Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding that neighborhood, it is one of the most historic and iconic parts of the city. Regardless of your political stance on the issues, it’s worth checking out.
There were a few “city squares” there where many roads intersected. In these squares, people lit fireworks and fire crackers on their own. Apparently, there were no official NYE fireworks, so these local festivities were sought after instead. While the fireworks were exciting and pretty, it left the streets super smoky. Along with the fog, we could barely a few meters in from of us. However, on our walk to the district, we had seen a lot of the pretty bridges and canals. Also, walking in the fog is a different vibe. It made the city seem even more mysterious and intriguing.
The day after, we took a day trip to Old Holland, which I will cover in a different post. During our remaining in Amsterdam though, we visited the Albert Cuyp Market, a famous outdoor market open daily from 9am-5pm that is comparable to Borough Market in London. Market vendors sold everything from leather jackets to green juices to stroopwaffles. The waffles were certainly what you should go for. A lot of the booths had XXL waffles for 1.50 euros, and these waffles were the size of my head. I heard that the Original Stroopwaffle stall is where you should go, but it was still setting up when we were there. I’m sure the other places are delicious as well. If I did not have a big brunch right before, I would have eaten a giant one or two, easily.
If we had more time to spend in the city, we would have visited several museums. We were interested in the Anne Frank House, but unfortunately, the tickets were sold out. For that museum, tickets for 2 weeks from today are released. 80% of the tickets are sold online prior to the day, and the remaining 20% is sold on the day of at 9am. I tried queueing online for day of tickets, but ended up on the waitlist at position 320. Right when it got down to 14 people in the queue, we were kicked out of line as the tickets were completely sold out. Other notable museums include the Rembrandt house and the R* Museum. There’s a super cool “I Amsterdam” sign on the lawns of the R Museum that you have probably seen all over instagram. I wish I had gotten a photo myself, but it was out of my way.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!