I really should try to write these weekly…
Two weeks ago we took our first trip out of the country to Amsterdam, Edam, Volendam and Bruges. Friday, we took a ferry from Dover and then a coach through France, Belgium and into The Netherlands. It was a long, but scenic drive. Our hotel was on the outskirts of the actual city, but practically next door to the metro and tram station. Our guides met us downstairs in the lobby about an hour after we got settled in to take us on a tour of the red light district and give us a limited understanding of the city (as much as they could in the dark with a group of probably 70 people). They dropped us off at the main square, Dam Square, and we set off on own from there. It was fun exploring the city and its nightlife, especially in our group of Mizzou girls. We stopped for dessert before power walking back to the metro station to catch the last train. I can only imagine what seven American girls looked like frantically weaving through the streets with waffles and croissants. After a moment of sheer panic when my metro card wouldn’t let me through the gates at the station, we were all finally at the platform waiting for our train. The stops were all in Dutch and trains aren’t listed by direction. Since we knew which train number we needed to take, we pushed the information tower button to be sure the right train was actually on its way. After being asked we spoke Dutch and French, an incredibly nice English speaking man told us our train would arrive in just a couple of minutes.
We hopped back on the bus Saturday morning to visit small Dutch towns of Edam and Volendam. We were only in each for about an hour, but that was plenty of time to drink Dutch coffee and sample some cheese. They’re both what I picture when I think of Holland. Small bakeries, shops and restaurants dotted along a central canal. Neither wassuper lively, but I’m glad I got to experience something outside of Amsterdam. And there’s no way I would’ve gone to either if we planned the trip ourselves.
We stopped for coffee in one of Volendam’s famous hotels before heading back to Amsterdam and going to the Anne Frank house. The museum was completely enthralling and emotional. The family’s living space was actually larger than I imagined while reading the book, but it’s still hard to believe so many people lived in such a small space. The last section of the museum is Otto Frank’s experience coming back to the house after surviving the concentration camps, and that’s when we all lost it. We spent the rest of the tour wiping tears and raving about the experience. We got ham and cheese toasties and a Duvel for lunch followed by our first order of chips and mayo. Bless Chipsy King and his delicious creation. I think I’ve decidedall fat fries should be eaten that way. We went back to the hotel to relax before heading back out for the evening. Even though most people can speak English, I noticed they usually speak Dutch to each other. There’s definitely something a little unsettling when you don’t fully understand what’s going on. We eventually gave up on looking for a restaurant and headed back to Dam Square for Belgian waffles…and our second order of chips.
Sunday was the longest day of traveling I’ve ever had, but stopping in Bruges was worth it. We got lunch, a waffle and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. We wandered around the small town of a couple of hours before heading back to London We spent about 15 hours trying to actually get back to city after all of our mishaps. Apparently UK border control has had problems with students saying they attend fake universities, so the entire second half our 100+ person tour had to go through individual interviews. We missed our scheduled ferry because that took so long, and the next scheduled boat was delayed because of bad weather. We finally got on the ferry after waiting about two hours at the docks. The boat was so rocky because of the bad weather, we tried to distract ourselves by constantly talking about random things. Valirie went through each member of One Direction’s life stories for us, which was thoroughly entertaining and took up quite a bit of time. We finally got to solid ground and then drove the two hours back into the city. Totally exhausting, but worth the fun weekend.