It was time for a change. No more tapas, no more siestas. I wanted something new. I had almost been in Madrid for two months and I was itching to experience one of the varied cultures in Europe. What did I know about Amsterdam? Not very much. I knew that they had very relaxed laws on drugs and prostitution but there had to be more. I knew that Anne Frank lived in the Netherlands but was she the only important person? I knew that there were giant canals, but what did they look like? My questions about Amsterdam remained unanswered and when I awoke on the first of November, I was more determined than ever to answer them.
Prior to our trip, my friend and I had discussed where we would stay. For some reason that we could not understand, almost every hostel in the city was booked. So what did we do? We used our Pitzer education to think out of the box: CouchSurfing.org. My last and only experience with couch-surfing was pretty wild: During my orientation adventure prior to freshman year, we stayed with a college student named Katie Funk who attended Santa Barbara City College. Me and five of my friends stayed on the trampoline of Katie Funk. It was no ordinary trampoline. Situated in her backyard, it was the size of a swimming pool with the weightless comfort that the water may have provided had it been a pool. We sunk into the padding and slept side to side. In the morning, we had a dance party. To say the least, it was pretty untraditional. My experience in Amsterdam was even better. We stayed with a 25-year old psychologist named Roderick. Unlike my last experience, we actually slept on couches (no, we did not surf on them due to weather). The first night we rode on bicycles through the city of Amsterdam along the beautiful canals with the cold air kicking us in the face. It was spectacular. Later, I would take a canal boat ride through the city and I could see the path we had ridden on bikes that dark, cold night. At first, I thought that the canals were a good landmark to find our accommodations. Little did I know that there are canals everywhere and that it is the worst landmark to use (instead, I used the tallest church in the city). For the next few days, we explored the city seeing the red light district and the varied architecture. The most exciting event was Museumnacht (museum night) on Saturday. During the event, over 40 museums opened their doors to visitors. Upon entry, you would enter the museum with a little twist — it was also a giant dance party with eloquent warm drinks and posh snacks. First, we waited one hour in line for the Rijksmuseum which specializes in Dutch art from the Golden Age. One of the specialities of the museum was its attention to smell. The paintings were placed in rooms that had smells intended to replicate the time period. It was really interesting. We also visited the Anne Frank House and the Secret Annex. It was really well-done and quite sad. I ordered the diaries to learn more about her life. And so, the night went on with more and more museums.
As I am still playing catch up, I am going to stop here but feel free to email me with any questions about my trip. Hasta ahora!