This past weekend was my first time visiting a European country other than France (I mean, I guess Monaco counts, but not really). I completely fell in love with the architecture with its mix-n-matched appearance while still maintaining a fluid color combination throughout the whole city.
The most noticeable difference was in the language. As soon as our plane landed, I habitually found myself saying “merci” and “pardonne” to the people around me… then realizing that this was completely unnecessary - everyone spoke English! Waiters and business owners immediately greeted us with a “hello” and everywhere along the streets I overheard conversations that I could completely understand for once. Of course, there was a huge mix of languages around us, but English was certainly the standard. I realize that Amsterdam is an incredibly touristy city, but then.. so is Paris. Even in Parisian museums or areas that are solely known for their tourism, you will always be greeted with a “bonjour” and sent off with an “au revoir”. In Amsterdam, I rarely heard dutch and when I did it was quickly translated into English. I’m not sure whether I like this more or less, but it was a weird feeling to be in a completely new country and yet feeling slightly more comfortable speaking to anyone around me.
We walked from the train station to our hostel, taking the extremely scenic route. It didn’t take long to realize just how much the culture here is surrounded by biking. Bikes literally everywhere. Tons of bike lanes and stoplights specifically for bikers. The three of us rented some from Mikes Bike Tours and spent the next few hours biking around to Vondelpark, the city center around the canals, and the I AMsterdam sign. Its been a shamefully long time since I’ve ridden a bicycle and I had such an amazing time seeing the city this way. Honestly, if you’ve been to Amsterdam and you didn’t ride a bike.. you did it wrong.
We also made our way to Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market. I ended up buying a bag of tulip bulbs and a packet of sunflower seeds, which I’m pretty anxious to plant. I would love to revisit The Netherlands in spring to see Keukenhof, the giant tulip gardens.
We only spent two days here, but I really enjoyed walking around this beautiful city. We visited some museums, including the Anne Frank House, stopped in a few local bars, and checked out the red light district.. which was so different than anything I’ve experienced before. I would love to come back again at some point in my life.