January 2 and 3

5 Jan

(Previously posted) 

Written by: Kelly Smith 

January 2: So far, we are having a great experience in Amsterdam. The flight over was fantastic and not too crowded. We even landed an hour earlier than expected. Only one bag was lost in transient (I happen to be that lucky person), but all in all we had a smooth journey to the Netherlands.

Our tour guide, Anika, and the bus picked us up at the airport to drive us to our hotel. On the way, she pointed out the different modern skyscrapers that lead into the city. These buildings are incredibly artistic and posses character that we all don’t see in the states. Ironically, the heart of Amsterdam is not home to modern statements, but traditional Dutch residences and buildings. The city looks as if it’s comprised of tall, skinny townhouses. Each of the buildings are of different heights, widths, and styles and bring an indescribable sense of charm to the city.

After we dropped off our belongings to the Eden Hotel, we were free to explore the city. Many classmates walked around to get a better sense direction. One can immediately noticed in Amsterdam that bikes and public trams are the major sources of transportation. In other terms: stay out of their way or they will mull you over. We all enjoyed visiting the famous communities, coffee shops, restaurants, and museums for the rest of the afternoon.

January 3: Today was our first “real” day in Amsterdam. We awoke to a great breakfast, comprised of meats, cheeses, rolls, yogurt, etc. After indulging in our first European breakfast, we headed on our way to Zaanstad, an open museum dedicated to the display of traditional Dutch windmills and craftsmanship. Windmills are such an important part of Dutch culture because that is how the country produced its energy sources before they implemented the use of electricity. These windmills would power the production of everything from cutting logs to making mustard. Today, approximately 1,000 windmills are still in existence throughout the country. They are maintained by volunteers or people who actually live in the windmill. By law, they are required to turn the wings at least once a month to keep the mechanisms in-check. We also saw a cheese-making demonstration (and free samples), as well as a wooden clog-making demonstration.

Next, Anika took us on a walking tour of Amsterdam. We started in the Jewish neighborhood of the city and saw the two synagogues of Amsterdam. We learned a little more about the Dutch’s involvement in World War II and the resistance movement that ensued when Hitler went against his promise to not invade the Netherlands. The tour continued to the Hermitage Museum (currently home of the Impressionist and Van Gogh exhibits), the many canal systems, the old orphanages, the outskirts of the Red Light district, Dam square, the New Church, and so much more. Each twist and turn of the streets captivated our attention as we explored this amazing city.

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