Yeah I’ve been sitting on that title for about a week now… My apologies for the delay of this post. Lots of work with very little motivation does not equal blog post, apparently. But here I am, back in business, ready to tell you about my trip to Amsterdam! And some other stuff too.
stroopwafel... two layers of wafel cookie with mapley syrupy stuff inside. so addicting.
Allie and I were both pretty tired post-Thanksgiving and we also were in different stages of colds so we decided from the get-go that we wanted a pretty relaxed weekend… i.e. we definitely went home at like 9pm every night. Still, it was a really fun weekend, and I loved our approach to it. We got to stay with my dad’s old friend Carole, who has been living in Amsterdam for the past 4 years. She was kind enough to let us crash in her loft a few floors up from her apartment, which was located right on a canal on the edge of the city center. Perfect. Not only did we get a cozy living space all to ourselves with convenient access to the city, but she also fed us breakfast and Dutch goodies, like stroopwafels (pictured above on the right). Yummy!
so pleased about my life choices
After settling in on our first day, we just spent the evening wandering around the surprisingly small city center. We found out later that we’d been wandering in the Red Light District (I think all the coffee shops and passing the Sex Museum should probably have given us a hint). First we stopped and got some of the famous Dutch frites; I had mayo and onions on mine–DELICIOUS. Then we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant (to get the authentic Dutch experience, obviously). We had a lovely time chatting over dinner, and talked for over two hours after the waiter cleared our plates until we found out that we really had to ask for the check in order to get it! Obviously we got dessert as well, and I sprung for a fancy schmancy apple strudel.
We began Saturday morning with breakfast and tea with Carole. We got to chat with her about her experiences living in Europe, and I updated her on my dad’s happenings. Then Allie and I headed out for a day of exploring, which included the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank House. Luckily Carole warned us to buy our tickets online ahead of time, so we didn’t have to wait in any lines! We also were able to walk around the whole time (rather than taking public transit) because everything in Amsterdam is surprisingly close. Of course, we also found the flower market and some cheese shops along the way. I may or may not have bought a cheese wheel and some balsamic mustard… (after trying all twenty of the samples in the store, obviously).
on the way into town, we walked right past the zoo, which is apparently "the 2nd most popular destination in town." I wonder what is the first?
one of my many, many canal pictures...
I was in heaven...
I enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum a lot. It was a good size (fairly small) and very well organized, so you could follow his life while seeing the progression of his artwork.
can't go to Amsterdam without this picture, even if there are strangers awkwardly in your photo...
our lunch was one of my favorite meals. it began with these...
I couldn't resist the raspberry juice... soooo yummy
I had a whole wheat bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese and olive tapenade with sun-dried tomatoes. Definitely a trip highlight.
Amsterdam had even more bikes than Copenhagen--a feat I didn't think was possible.
we stopped for some delicious hot chocolate before our evening reservation at the Anne Frank Huis... so hard to resist getting a second.
The Anne Frank Huis was a really well-done museum, and a really powerful experience. We paid a few extra Euro for an introduction in English, so we would know a bit more about what we were seeing. It was just crazy to know what people had gone through exactly where we were standing many years before.
For dinner that night we had Italian (we really immersed ourselves in the Dutch culture…). Then we went home early, grabbing some Turkish rice pudding along the way (missing Istanbul already!). Snuggled up in our loft, we each read our respective books (Harry Potter in French for me and Breaking Dawn for Allie, which she found in the loft). It was really a great end to a lovely weekend. Sunday morning, we slept in and ate a late breakfast, still reading. The weather was pretty windy and rainy, so it was just as well that we decided to stay in. We headed to the airport around noon, where me and Allie had different flights because of a sudden price-change midway through our booking. Just as I was about to get settled at my gate, C9, I found out that it had changed, and had to go all the way to D58. Then the plane was a bit delayed because the crew had gone to C9. I thought I was done with travel issues, but Copenhagen had other things in mind for me.
When we were about to land, there was a windstorm going on (unbeknownst to me) and the plane was experiencing a lot of turbulence. In fact, when we went down for landing the first time, the plane was tipping back and forth, and the pilot decided to pull back up and try again. Not exactly confidence-inspiring. However, when we went around and tried again the plane landed successfully and everybody applauded. Again, I thought finally I could have a smooth trip the rest of the way home. Again, I was mistaken.
I made the train successfully and settled in, excited to see my host family again. The train was shaking a bit, but I didn’t particularly notice until the train stopped and the driver gave a couple of longer-than-usual announcements. I heard the girl sitting across from me (who was talking on the phone) say in Danish, “The train’s only going to Birkerød,” and sure enough, the list of stops changed and Birkerød (two stops and about 15 min. before my own) became the end of the line. I thought I heard something about a bus that would take us the rest of the way (the announcements are all in Danish, so I only understand key words). So I was feeling okay about piling off the train, and prepared to wait for the bus. There was no bus immediately though, and many of the other people were catching taxis so I started to get a bit worried. After a few minutes of waiting, checking rejseplanen.dk in the station’s computer to see if there was a bus that could take me closer to Hillerød, and watching to see what other people were doing, I eventually called Søren to ask for a ride. Of course, once he was about 10 min. away, the bus finally came, but by that time it was easier to just wait for him.
On the way home, he told me that the wind storm (which I’d noticed by then after being blown around by the wind) had apparently caused a tree to fall on the track, which is what caused my train to stop. Apparently the train that encountered the tree falling (which could not have been more than one or two trains before mine because our train driver only discovered it halfway through the ride–good thing my plane was delayed!) had to stay put for several hours because they were worried about the danger of electrical shock. Of course, Søren also told me that you were supposed to avoid driving as much as possible, and I saw why as the car got pushed a foot or so over every few minutes as we were driving home–not exactly a relaxing ride. When I finally got home, I checked the weather and apparently the wind was gusting up to 60mph, and in some parts of Denmark it was hurricane-level wind. So in other words pretty serious storm.
Luckily by the next day my train was all fixed up and everything was normal again (definitely not something that would happen in the U.S.). Overall, our trip was really fun (even if it had a bit of a hectic ending), and I was really proud of myself for packing only my backpack! I know it’s not a terribly impressive feat for a weekend trip, but I feel like all this independent traveling has made me a more efficient traveler and packer, and I just feel like I’ve gotten better at the whole process.
Other happenings this week:
Det Frie Gymnasium! For my Adolescence in Northern Europe class, we had to complete a learning lab, in which we visited a site to see Danish adolescents in person and use the experience to answer our research questions. My group visited Det Frie Gymnasium, or “The Free Gymnasium”, a Danish high school (or the equivalent) in Copenhagen. The school is known for being super democratic, so the students are involved in all official decisions, from what the cafeteria serves to what to do with the new building the school has acquired. We talked to a girl named Anna, who is family friends with my teacher. She gave us a tour of the school (which is covered in graffiti because the students voted that they should be able to paint wherever they wanted, except on chairs of course). The students are on an equal level with teachers, and are able to question what they’re learning and have some say in the way they are taught (though of course they have to complete a certain curriculum, and in subjects like math there aren’t very many ways to teach the material). It was really cool to see such a different school environment and talk to some Danish teens in person. It definitely tied together a lot of things we’d been discussing in class, and was a really unique opportunity.
SO MUCH HOMEWORK. Three presentations and two papers, to be exact. Hence the reason I haven’t been blogging all week. But I’m close to being done (two papers and two tests left), and soon I will just be enjoying my last two weeks in Denmark . Wow it is weird to type that. While I’m getting even more excited to go back to the U.S., I’m also really enjoying Christmas season in Denmark at the moment… Charlotte hung a little bag (sort of like a stocking) on each of our doors, and she has been giving us little gifts (I mean the Nisse–the Danish gift-giving elves that supposedly live in your house). I got an advent calendar and some little Danish cookies. The advent calendar has definitely been helping my motivation… It’s a lot easier to get out of bed when you know you get a surprise chocolate candy!
Tomorrow is my first Danish birthday party, and it will be a 50 person affair. More specifically, it’s my host farfar’s (grandpa) 70th birthday. Danes go all out for birthdays, so I’m sure this will be pretty epic, and definitely will last late into the night. Then on Sunday I’m going to an FCK (the Copenhagen “football” team) game with all the Danish classes. Should be a really fun weekend, but I’ve also got to write an essay and study for a final sometime in there. We’ll see how that goes…
Happy holidays from Hillerød!