Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Holland

I am finally back in Nottingham after three consecutive weekends of traveling, I am exhausted and crabby and stressed but so happy to be home! It’ll be the first time that I’ll be in Nottingham for 10+ days in a while, so it’s nice to have time to relax. LOL just kidding I have to write a 10-page essay that’s worth half my grade by next Wednesday, so it’s crunch time. I also need to seriously start figuring out my spring break plans, since as of today we leave in a month and I have absolutely nothing booked. All this on top of the fact that on Friday we find out our exam dates, so not only do I have to buy my plane ticket home to the great 612 (which will also determine when I start work this summer), I also need to figure out everything for my Russia trip, aka mainly figuring out how to get my travel visa and everything.

So I’m pretty stressed out right now, and I should be writing my essay but instead I thought I’d procrastinate a bit more.

I had an awesome trip to Holland this past week! I flew out of London Stansted to Amsterdam on Wednesday, which was fine except that Stansted is about a 5-hour bus ride for me from Nottingham. So I was at the bus station by 7:00am and, of course, obscenely early for my 15:10 flight. My first time flying EasyJet was a success, I was worried they’d try to make me cram my backpack into the little crate thing but they didn’t. My flight was only 40 minutes, which was awesome! It was a bit confusing getting on the right train from the airport to Amsterdam Central station, all the trains seemed to leave from different platforms and I kept missing them. But it was a short train ride and I made it in the end!

There are three things Amsterdam is proud of: its beer, its weed, and its prostitutes. I walked out of the train station and BOOM all of a sudden I got hit with this wave of weed smell. My hostel was super close to the train station so I didn’t have far to walk. I had a really nice time walking around the city that night, just exploring and seeing what Amsterdam was like! I really have no idea where all I walked, Amsterdam is super curvy and after a while all the canals looked the same. I also ended up in the Red Light District, I didn’t realize that’s where I was until I looked over and there was a prostitute in the doorway. Oops.

Thursday I set off early in the morning to see the Anne Frank House, one of the main things I wanted to do in Amsterdam. The queue is notoriously long, but it took me less than 20 minutes to get in. It honestly was really emotional and very depressing being there. You walk through the whole house, through the moving bookcase and through the empty rooms in the Secret Annexe (Otto Frank wanted the rooms left empty of furnishings). At the end, the tour goes through the stories of the people hiding in the Secret Annexe—all of them died except Otto Frank, Anne’s father. It was really, really sad. Anne Frank’s actual diary is on display, as well as certain pages from all her notebooks. I cried a lot. I first read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was in 6th grade, and it was pretty astounding to see how one girl’s story could captivate the entire world. 

  
After I finished crying, I set off to see more of Amsterdam. I walked to the Rijksmuseum, which is in a magnificent building, with a park on the other end. It was 15 euro and the queues were horrendous, so I decided not to go in. I walked around Vondelpark, which is simply huge and really pretty. It was really relaxing being there, by this point I think I had managed to learn how not to get hit by bicyclists. I have literally never seen so many bikes in my life. Everyone bikes. It’s crazy.

 
Outside the Rijksmuseum with the I amsterdam sign!
My next stop was the other main thing I wanted to see in Amsterdam: the Heineken Brewery. The tour is really expensive (18 euro) but definitely worth it. First, the tour takes you through a history of the company and its founders, and through the brewing process on this cart thing that moves (kind of like a ride). After that, you get your first tasting session, and thanks to answering the guy’s questions right (Q: What does it smell like? A: Hops. Q: How does that taste? A: Good.), I got extra beers! What what?!?! Then you can lie down and watch Heineken commercials from 1955, and at the end finally you get your beer. I chose to pour my own pint, so I’m now an officially certified Heineken pourer! The certificate will go with my Jameson one :)

Happy 150th Birthday, Heineken!
I walked around some more, saw a guy doing head spinning as part of street dancing, then headed back to my hostel and had a great resting period and a shower. I met this kid who had just dropped out of uni in Nottingham (Trent), and he and I went to a coffeeshop and smoked and drank and then got kebabs. He was a pretty cool guy, probably stoned the entire time I was around him, but nice.

On Friday, I checked out of my hostel and headed to the top floor of the public library of Amsterdam for a really nice view of the city (thanks for the tip, Makoto!). I really didn’t have too much else I really wanted to do, but I saw the flower market, then got some amazing waffles at this other market, and sat in Remembrandtplein watching tourists take pictures with the statues. I saw the theatre that was formally the place of deportation for the Jews in Amsterdam in WWII and the Newmarket, and then headed to the hostel to get my bag and headed to the train station to catch my train to Eindhoven.

I was in Eindhoven to meet up with two of my friends, Nick and Rens, and I had such a blast with them! I met them when I was in Latvia and they invited me to hang out with them if I get to Holland. Friday night was awesome, for anyone who cares I would definitely recommend partying in Eindhoven. All the bars and clubs are conveniently located on the same street, and none of them have a cover charge! We had such an awesome time and didn’t get back until 4 in the morning, but it was definitely worth it.

Saturday we were all tired and feeling lazy, so we ate breakfast late and then went to a park and laid in the grass. The weather was literally AMAZING. I wore jeans and a tank top and I was totally fine. The sun was shining, there were flowers blooming, it was spring and I was loving it. Sucks to suck, everyone who’s in Minnesota right now! I left Sunday early afternoon from the airport in Eindhoven, Nick and Rens dropped me off at the airport and after waiting for 1. My delayed plane and 2. My bus that was late, I made it back to Notts safe and sound but totally exhausted!

I also have great news, one of my best friends from school, Vanya (real name not Russian name: Evan) is going to be coming to visit me in Nottingham starting on March 31! I am so, SO excited to see him and hang out with him! We haven’t seen each other since Nordic Fest at the end of July, and I miss him a lot. He’s in St. Petersburg for the semester, and so I can’t wait to hear all about Russia from him in person! Our reunion is long-overdue, so get ready Nottingham we’re taking over. Okay, time to work on my essay and figure out spring break plans and stress out about my Russian travel visa and get my life together!

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