Last week I touched down in Amsterdam to spend my fall break with my family and my boyfriend. The flight to Amsterdam was, thankfully, only an hour and five minutes, which is one of the many perks that come with living in Ireland. No more seven-hour plane rides! For now, at least.
Since there was no rigid itinerary for us in Amsterdam, my boyfriend and I spent our time there exploring the city, eating Dutch pancakes, and nearly getting run over by bicyclists. We marveled at the Colonial Dutch architecture and joked that every street, especially the ones next to the canals, looked identical. The entire city is a World Heritage site, meaning that the original architecture must be preserved. The only “modern” building I saw was the Anne Frank Museum Café, attached to the Anne Frank House (which has been left *mostly*untouched). Apple Maps also shows “The Fault in Our Stars Bench” as a landmark near the AFH and I desperately wanted to sit there but, alas, it was taken by some man eating his lunch.
While most of my trip was spent in Amsterdam, my favorite daytrips were to Kinderdijk and The Hague. Kinderdijk is a village south of Amsterdam that boasts 18th century Dutch windmills. To get there, we had to take a train and a waterbus that dropped us off at the dock in Kinderdijk. My boyfriend and I decided to rent some bikes to ride down the windmill trail. We thought that biking would be easier than walking but since I’m not an avid biker, this was wishful thinking. Barring all the times I nearly crashed into pedestrians or fell into the river because I didn’t want to crash into pedestrians, biking through Kinderdijk was like something out of a movie. I was surrounded by tall grass and windmills and rivers stretched endlessly before me like a pastoral postcard.
On our second-to-last-day we visited The Hague, the capital of South Holland. We went to the Mauritshuis, an art museum that featured works from Rembrandt and Vermeer, two famous Dutch painters. Vermeer is best known for his painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” which was the biggest attraction there. Each room in the Mauritshuis featured ornate fireplaces, celling murals, and walls lined with paintings (because it’s an art museum, after all). While I enjoyed the Versailles-esque gallery rooms, I found the Mauritshuis’ exhibit on stolen art the most interesting. Donning a VR headset, I found myself in a salt mine where Nazis stored a stolen portrait of Rembrandt and watched as Napoleon’s army paraded through Berlin before stealing a statue.
Now I’m back in Dublin, feeling refreshed after my week in the Netherlands. Getting the chance to travel around Europe has been one of the greatest opportunities that studying abroad has offered me. I got to see and do things that I couldn’t imagine myself doing a year ago! That’s all for this week, tune in next time for more adventures (in Ireland, this time).
Thanks for reading!