Sometimes the best travelling stories come from difficulties travelling. Such was the case during my stay in Amsterdam. Leading up to the trip, I was quite puzzled by the insanely expensive prices for hostels over the weekend of my visit. The first two nights, a hostel bunk was around €90 and then dropped to €11 the following night. Hotels were at €350 per night. All the Airbnbs were booked.We later learned that it was a national holiday in Netherlands as well as a music festival. Naturally, my travelling companion and I put off booking until we were in Berlin about to leave for Amsterdam. We found reasonable accommodation for the last two nights, but not the first. Our train got in around midnight and we wanted to get up early to go to the Anne Frank House before there was a massive queue. So we made the sensible decision to just go without accommodation the first night!
On the train, we met four 18-year-old Canadian guys who also didn't have accommodation. We teamed up, arrived around midnight, put our backpacks in lockers at the station and headed off to spend a long, sleepless night on the streets of Amsterdam! Actually, the ambiance was quite similar to Dublin on St. Patrick's Day. We found establishments we could hop between until 5 AM, at which point we walked back to the train station. The station was full of people and guards waking up anyone who was asleep! We waited until around 7 AM and then headed to the Anne Frank House to be one of the first in the queue. It worked; we were amongst the first there and got in a half hour before the opening time listed. When we left, the queue was massive: it probably took four hours or so to get in.
I've read Anne Frank's diary multiple times in school so it was really interesting to see the Secret Annex in person. It was larger than I expected, but way too small for eight people to live. The history of the occupants and Jews in hiding was thoroughly covered.
After sleeping in our hostel lobby for a few hours, we finally got a bed and a few hours of proper sleep. Then, it was time to fight for a spot of the iAmsterdam sign. I claimed the "d."
Amsterdam is full of cute, little museums like the Tulip Museum and Stroop Waffle Museum.
And also the cheese museum.
Which gave a whole new meaning to "blue cheese."
Those of you who know how much I like to have a travel soundtrack will appreciate the choices I had here: "Amsterdam" by Imagine Dragons, "Amsterdam" by Coldplay, and "Blind Man in Amsterdam" by George Ezra.
Amsterdam was much colder than I expected (or maybe I was just used to the sweltering heat of Turkey and Greece) but the city was adorable. I heard that the Dutch are the tallest people in the world and I believe it. About 95% of the people I saw were taller than me and I'm not short. After Amsterdam, I finally returned to London after an incredible two weeks with eight cities, seven countries, five flights, four buses, four nights without lodging, two trains, and two continents!
I'm getting behind on my blogging again; I've just been busy with all that needs to be done and seen in my last couple of weeks in the UK. Right now, I'll move on to the Berlin bit of my two-week trip primarily through Eastern Europe. After Athens, I arrived in Berlin. One of the top sights was obviously the Berlin Wall. There are a few sections of the wall visible, but due to time limitations, I only saw the one near Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terrors.
Checkpoint Charlie was one point along the wall, where West Berliners and (rarely and only in exceptional circumstances) East Berliners were allowed to cross to the other side. Today, the East German bit is full of the most expensive shops in Berlin. The West German bit, which was the American sector, now has a McDonalds and a Starbucks...true to its American roots, I suppose!
Near the wall, there was an eerie East German socialist propaganda mural.
While on a walking tour, I learned that Berlin has preserved much of the damage received during World War II as an act of remembrance. This column was one of many damaged during the war.
We also stopped by the Holocaust Memorial.
Berlin offers many museums so it was hard to choose just one. We decided to see the Jewish History museum which focused primarily on the Holocaust, but also of eerily similar persecutions of Jews throughout the centuries. History really does repeat itself, despite all the "progress" society has made. The preservation of the Jews in spite of frequent persecution is remarkable and, as polymath Blaise Pascal pointed out centuries ago, foretold.
After seeing so much of the dark side of Berlin's history, we decided to visit Kathe Wohlfahrt, a Christmas store that opens a stall at the Pittsburgh Christmas market each year. This year, I remarked that I could visit their actual store if I made it to Germany during my travels. Well, I did and it was adorable! (No photos allowed inside though!)
There was still more to see in Berlin, so I will just have to return to Germany again! I will try to have my updates on Amsterdam, UK adventures, and some travelling/study abroad advice in the near future.
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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