Posts tagged ‘Amsterdam’

March 16, 2011

Amsterdam!


Amsterdam weekend was definitely one of the “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” moments you sometimes get in life.

We took a 4:30am EasyBus to London Stansted and our flight to Eindhoven was only about 45 minutes long. That’s about 5 minutes when you’ve fallen back asleep. After landing and going through customs we caught the bus (3 euro) to Eindhoven Centraal, the train station. We took a train, a little less than an hour and a half, to Amsterdam and once we got there we got started immediately. There’s an hour time difference so by the time we were out and about in the city it was around 11:30. We hadn’t eaten really so we found a place that had cheap burgers and breakfast. Long behold we walk in and were immediately hit with the strong smell of weed. We’re-not-in-Kansas moment #1. We stumbled into one of the thousands (probably) of coffeeshops scattered throughout the area. After we ate brunch we set off to find the Anne Frank house. The line was around the block but it moved pretty quickly, and we were in and exploring after only a few minutes. We had to carry our backpacks in the front and by the end of it my shoulders were absolutely killing me. The Anne Frank house was so interesting and an emotional thing to go through…seeing the Annex, where they actually hid, and just relearning history about the Holocaust was tough/hard to hear. In the bookstore I ended up buying a book, not her diary-I figured I could get that really anywhere-but about the last 7 months of Anne Frank’s life. The book is the accounts of 7 women who survived the concentration camps and who had seen the Frank family, or just the girls, along the way. I read it on the way home and it’s so good-willing to let anybody borrow it when I return to the states.

After the Anne Frank house we wandered around Amsterdam, into random little shops, until it was time to check into our hotel. Hotel Continental was in the busy part of the city and basically right next to the train station, making our lives very convenient. The inconvenient part of the hotel was that we booked a double room (because it was all that was left) and figured we would just squeeze. Too bad the room was less than half of the size of the room I’m sitting in right now and the beds could BARELY fit one person. To make our lives even more stressed, the sign in the lobby said, “No guests allowed in rooms.” Is this legal to put on here? Sorry, Hotel Continental, if you read this, but we fit 4 all weekend. We made-do with what we had and it actually wasn’t as bad as we expected. We didn’t really spend a lot of time in the room anyways…who comes to Amsterdam (or anywhere, for that matter) to sleep? Friday night we went on a tour of the red light district. We’re-not-in-Kansas moment #2. In case you haven’t heard anything about Amsterdam, prostitution is also legal there. Yup, it’s the city of sex and drugs. Our tour guide was really funny and nice and we got to see the district and learn about how it works today & the history of it in the city. Huge culture shock passing windows with prostitutes in them and actually seeing the coming and going of men into many of these windows. In class on Thursday, don’t know if you remember or not, but we talked about making rules to regulate prostitution. A+ for us for making all rules that already exist and are enforced. We brought up an alarm system in class, and sure enough, when in the actual red light district we witnessed one going off and the quick collection of police to take control of the situation. “The guy must’ve done something he wasn’t supposed to”, said our tour guide.

After our tour it was closer to 9pm so we followed directions to a place that was featured in Ocean’s Twelve. When we got there, they told us they didn’t serve food, so we ventured on to find a restaurant. We ended up eating at this delicious Italian place, and the couple next to us was American. Apparently, American and the nicest people in the world, because they gave us half of their bottle of wine and secretly paid for ours! Little things like that make me smile so big, and they made the rest of our night 🙂

Saturday we woke up and went on a canal cruise, and then headed over to the Heineken brewery, where we in fact spent close to three hours. “It’s like the Willy Wonka factory, but for adults!” is what we liked to say. If you ever go to Amsterdam, the brewery is highly recommended. At the end they give you two beers, but we chose to do the draft challenge and got a certificate for knowing how to properly pour a Heineken from tap. (We like to collect things for the scrapbook) We grabbed a late lunch after the factory and then went back to the hotel. Saturday night we just grabbed dinner at a nearby restaurant and went to a bar for a little bit.

Sunday we woke up and were determined to get to the I Amsterdam sign, right next to the van Gogh museum. (We wanted to make it on Saturday, but by the time we left Heineken it was closer to 5:30 and the museum was closed. Reason to go back someday!!) We took the tram, trekked through the wind and rain, snapped our pictures and hopped right back on the tram to head to the train station. Our flight took off from Eindhoven at 2:30pm and landed in Stansted at 2:30pm. Reason to love the constant time differences I’m experiencing abroad! We took the EasyBus back from Stansted and unfortunately hit traffic…it took us about an hour to go 4 blocks, and the bus driver would not let us off, even though we lived less than 3 blocks away from where we were sitting in dead-stop traffic. Came home Sunday night and worked on our midterm papers!

More to come,

Cheers!

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February 24, 2011

Successful week


This week was one of the first that I felt completely normal and in my same old routine-mode probably since I got here. With everything that happened with me so far it was absolutely amazing to go to the gym, feel great at work, have great classes and get relatively normal amounts of sleep. Monday for politics we watched the Prime Minister’s questions video. Every Wednesday at noon David Cameron answers questions from Parliament when the House of Commons is sitting. It was actually really entertaining & informative…take a look:

For theatre this week we had an extra long class because the star of Vernon God Little, the play we saw the week before, Joseph Drake, came into our class! He was the main character, Vernon, and he talked to us about the play, about rehearsals leading up to the show, his life, and how he doesn’t read reviews. He was so funny and it was great to get to meet him. I got him to sign my journal 🙂 After class we grabbed dinner right by the theatre before the show, and then we saw Penelope at the Hampstead Theatre. It was about an hour and a half long with no intermission, and it was probably the most odd out of all the shows we’ve seen. Don’t want to spoil it for you in case you ever end up going there, but I’ll just tell you the set was in the bottom of a swimming pool the entire show, and Penelope, the girl the play is named after, did not have one line. Our teacher is trying to broaden our horizons to all types of theatre, and all types of theatre we are seeing.

Tuesday for Media & Society was really fun. We talked about the history of radio and TV broadcasting, and then we went out to East Finchley tube stop (a little out of the city) to London Greek Radio. LGR used to be a pirating station back before commercialized channels still hadn’t expanded. We got a tour of the studio and got to ask Vasilis Panayis, the big cheese at the station, who’s been in broadcast for 25 years. I also got him to sign my journal 🙂 Work at Wriglesworth this week was great, I was constantly busy, well-rested and learned a lot. I helped with some press releases, surveyed people over the phone and did a lot of desk research. Wednesday after work we had a group outing to the British Library concerning their exhibition on the Evolution of English. Three professors came in to talk about the different dialects among all regions in the UK. After the British Library we went to O’Neils for Liz’s 21st birthday. Liz’s mom and godmother came to visit her for this long weekend, so we’ve seen them a lot and it is so much fun having moms/parents around! They’re staying at a hotel/apartment literally two doors down, which is so convenient. We got the tour of their flat and it’s a hundred times nicer than ours, but what are ya gonna do. We got the live band to give Liz a shout out at O’Neils and call her up to the stage! So far, birthdays in London are a major success.

Today I worked in the morning, I love when I come in for mornings because Wriglesworth provides cereal for all the staff 🙂 Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. I didn’t even need a jacket, and the sky was blue. We must be extremely lucky people because we’ve seriously only had about 2 rainy days, and they weren’t even that bad. Crossing my fingers that this luck doesn’t change when spring officially comes! For Pop Culture today we talked about a book named Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, which is a directory of prostitutes in the Victorian Era, and then we played a game where we had to act as members of parliament and pass/veto rules to regulate prostitution in order to control it. After class we went to the Museum of London where we saw the history of London from when it was just land to Roman times to modern day.

Tonight is yet another Thursday night before a weekend of travels. We’re headed off to Amsterdam this weekend, waking up at 3:30am to make our 6:55 flight. Thank you Ryanair.

Have a great weekend and I’ll give stories about Amsterdam Sunday/Monday!

Cheers 🙂