Monday, November 25, 2013

Amsterdam, Netherlands!!


Hallo!! (Hello in Dutch!)

From November 16th to the 19th, my two friends, Alejandra and Daniela, and I went to Amsterdam in the Netherlands!!  We had an awesome time!  The city is spectacular and so beautiful.  It is built on a bunch of canals and water ways.  The picture above is literally what it looked like wherever you went!  There were cute bridges all over, and swans were always swimming in the water.  It was very picturesque.  Also, as many of you may know, Amsterdam is a very...well, uh...open place.  A lot of things are shown if you catch my drift, so it was definitely an experience.  

On Saturday, we met at the airport in Bordeaux.  Once there, we were told that our flight, on RyanAir, was delayed four hours due to the heavy fog in Eindhoven!  When we finally got on the plane and were flying, they still didn't know where we were going to land.  The pilot said we would probably land close by in Germany, and get bused to Holland.  At the last minute, they announced that we would be able to land in Eindhoven (the original plan.)  We were one of only two flights that were able to land there that day!  

Since our flight was delayed so long, we didn't get into Eindhoven until around 9:00 pm.  Then we took about a twenty minute bus ride to the train station, and an hour and a half train ride to Amsterdam.  Finally we arrived!!  It was a good thing we decided to wait to buy transportation tickets until we arrived, otherwise we would have lost all of our tickets and money from being late!  From the train station, we walked for about twenty minutes in search of our hostel.  That was the first time I had ever stayed in a hostel, and it was better than I was anticipating, which was a relief!  Also, our hostel was located directly on the Red Light District.  I was not aware of this until we arrived!  Talk about a surprise. hahaha If you are not completely sure what it is, Google it, but at your own risk. Seriously.  It isn't appropriate for me to write about. ; ) We dropped our stuff off and headed out in search of a bar! 


The next day we went in search of breakfast and got incredibly lost.  It is an old European city built on water, so of course it doesn't make sense.  We had a map, asked multiple people where we were, and we still couldn't tell you which way was north.  Being my father's daughter, I have an excellent sense of direction, but this city was kicking my butt.  After a few hours, we gave up.  We walked until we found a tram, made our way back to the Central Station, and just started completely over.  *A tip that I have learned in Europe: as soon as (or even before) you arrive in a new city, become good friends with the city's public transportation.  It really does make everything a whole lot easier!  For just 12€, we were able to buy a ticket to have complete access to the metro, trams, and buses for 48 hours.  

*Side note: every single person we talked to spoke perfect English.  I loved that!  It made it so easy to get around, and for the first time in months, I heard people speak English regularly!  What a change! : )
*Second side note: for the places that we visited, we bought our tickets online before we left for the trip.  This was very nice!  We could carry less money on us, and we didn't have to worry about getting in, or waiting in the long lines.  We just walked in like we owned the place. ; )

After finally finding where we were, we got something to eat.  I had a muffin, the other two had a bagel.  We ate that on our way to the Vincent van Gogh museum.  This was very cool.  The museum was quite large, 4 stories.  We saw most of his artwork, old paint brushes, materials, everything!  We spent hours there.  My favorite piece by Van Gogh is "A Starry Night," but it wasn't there.  I believe it is in New York City at the moment.  

From there we made a quick stop at the famous "I amsterdam" sign for a nice photo opportunity!  It was very crowded, but we anticipated that!





Next it was off to the original Heineken Brewery, now called the Heineken Experience.  This was easily one of the coolest museum type experiences I have ever had!  It starts off as a normal museum with all of the interesting facts and history.  We got to see the old parts of the factory and the old tanks.  We walked past the Heineken Horses, which are still a part of the brewing process today!  Then it turns into a more modern and interactive experience.  We went into a theater that explains the brewing process, but from the beer's point of view.  We became the beer!  We stood on a platform that moves (freaked us out because we didn't know it moved.)  As we were poured from place to place, the platform dropped and moved so we felt like we were in the movie.  When anything splashed, water and bubbles came out of the ceiling.  When we were being cooked, giant heat lamps turned on.  It was quite fun and we got a good laugh out of it.  Next we were off to our beer tasting.  As we drank, we played a game where we could win more beer.  Ale won two additional glasses of beer, so her and I gulped down two glasses each.  Let me just say, probably the best tasting beer ever! We don't know if it was just the environment, or the thought of being there, but the beer was fantastic!

The rest of the Experience we went from room to room where we could take fun pictures, sing karaoke, make videos, play games, become a DJ in a club, sit in a theater and watch Heineken commercials, and watch bottles be filled and capped.  The last room is a cool bar where each person gets two additional free glasses of beer.  May I remind you that we had very little to eat, about eight hours prior to this, and then drank 4 glasses in a very short amount of time.  Let's just say we were having some fun.  Then we toured the gift shop, bought some fun things, and went in search of food, lots of food!  What a great business tactic though.  Give the tourists free beer, just enough to the point of "fun tipsy," and then lead them straight into a fun gift shop where everything now looks "super cool" and "must have" because hey, "when will I ever be able to come back?!" *Gold mine*


Above picture: Our fourth round of delicious beer!
Below picture: my very own customized Heineken beer bottle, made at the original brewery, with my name on the label! Yeah, I am a little proud of it!


The next morning we found a Starbucks for some breakfast and did a little sightseeing again.  We then went to the Sex Museum.  I don't have pictures of that for obvious reasons.  It was interesting, only cost 4€, and hey, when in Amsterdam...

Then it was the fun task of searching for our next location, which we only had to stop and ask directions for four times.  We were getting better!  But we finally arrived at the Anne Frank House and Museum!


We opted for an introduction to the museum, for just a few euros more.  The introduction was a half hour, and in English.  We sat in a room that had pictures and stories all over the walls.  The presenter followed a timeline of pictures and explained Anne Frank's story, as well as events that were affecting the world.  On a table was a book of names of all of the Holocaust victims from the Netherlands.  This book is very large and is read out loud every four years.  They don't do it every year because it takes four days and four nights to read it.  This is only for one country.  There was also an original yellow star that the Jews were forced to sew onto their clothes, laying on the table.

Once in the actual museum, we could no longer take pictures, but I will never forget it.  The building in which her family hid was her father's business building.  We walked through the whole building, where all of the storage rooms and old offices were.  On all of the walls were quotes from Anne Frank's diaries.  There were pictures to show what the building used to look like, and videos that you could stop and watch.  One video was of a friend of Anne's.  This friend was not Jewish, therefor she was not in the camps.  She did manage to find Anne through the fence when Anne was later put in Auschwitz.  The friend threw a small package of necessities over the fence to Anne, and that was the last time she ever saw her.  

The hiding place of the family was located in the back house of the building.  The entrance was covered up by a movable bookcase which is still there today.  We passed through this secret opening, and were in the actual hiding place of Anne Frank.  When the family was discovered, the Nazis took all of the belongings from the family. Anne's dad Oscar, the only survivor, wanted the rooms to stay empty.  He wanted  to show how they were empty of belongings, empty of life.  Everything had been ripped away from them.  When the museum first opened, Oscar set the rooms back up to the best of his memory for the sake of taking pictures, but everything was removed again.  On the walls of these rooms were the pictures of what the rooms once looked like.  In the room that Anne and her sister stayed in, there were still the drawings and magazine clippings that they put up to make the place more cheerful. 

We got to look around the entire living quarters, and then we entered another part of the museum.  Here were interviews of her dad, Oscar, as well as others.  The final room had the actual diaries of Anne Frank on display.  The room was very dim so the light wouldn't damage the books, and they are kept in very thick glass cases with high security.  The book has been translated into over 70 languages! (Who even knew the world had that many) A lot of these different versions were also on display.  

In 1959, there was a movie made, called The Diary of Anne Frank.  That year, the actress Shelley Winters won The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this movie.  This Academy Award is on display and is the last thing you see before leaving the museum.  As a major movie buff, and an avid viewer of the Academy Awards, seeing one in person was absolutely awesome.  But it was a complete honor to have seen one for a movie such as this.

It is hard to properly express what it was like to have an experience like this.  It was a humbling, amazing, truly once in a lifetime experience.  For that, I am deeply grateful.
  

The rest of our night was more sightseeing.  We went to a cute park for some pictures.  We got a traditional Dutch pastry from a street vendor and stopped by the "I amsterdam" sign one last time.  We went back to the hostel, had more beer and had some "girl time."  Then we were up bright and early to make our way back to France.  On the journey back, I took control of the group and showed them what it was like to be on "Krysta Time."  Krysta, being one of the most punctual, over prepared people you will ever meet!  The two people I was with are almost always late to everything!  I made sure that we were not only on time to everything, but early with time to spare!  They laughed when we finally arrived at the airport and said "I will have to say, Krysta, this is nice.  Being here on time, not having to stress, and actually being able to stop and get food and coffee is nice!!"  It is a lot less stressful on "Krysta Time." : )


Amsterdam, you treated us well! Thank you for a fantastic time!!

Thank you to everyone for reading, hope you enjoyed my stories!

-Krysta

"Those who have courage and faith, shall never perish in misery."
-Anne Frank

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