Four Magical Days in Amsterdam!

   Jaselle nearly fell out of her seat when I told her that I had never been out of the country -- nor had I ever been on an airplane. With that, my close friend had her travelista hat on when I told her I wanted to go "everywhere" in Europe -- those were my actual words, "I want to go everywhere."

  Less than a year -- and less than $1,000 -- later, we were on a flight to Iceland, connecting to Amsterdam where we'd spend the first four days of our #EuroTrip2017.

   Full disclosure here, I was least excited to go to Amsterdam. It was cold, and I had never much been interested in Dutch cuisine. But, I was pleasantly surprised. I absolutely fell in love with Amsterdam.

   We went in early May and it was BRICK CITY (that means it was really cold), and I totally did not pack for the weather. The first night, we braved the cold and headed from Almere Oostvaarders to Amsterdam Centraal where we found the cutest little restaurant called Moeders (which is Dutch for "mothers"). 

   The restaurant's walls were filled with photos of random women, which I assumed to be peoples' mothers. It was so dope. I threw all dietary caution to the wind and had a plate of ribs -- BECAUSE I WAS ON VACATION, OKAY?!

   Because I was a fool and packed spring/summer clothes for the trip, we searched around bustling Amsterdam Centraal for a sweatshirt until we stumbled upon this charming little place called "The Bulldog" 😈😈 There we met this adorable, sweet guy named Mitchell, who explained that The Bulldog is a cannabis shop, a bar AND a gift shop. It's sooo popular because it's the very first cannabis shop in the world! And what kind of tourist would I be if I didn't partake in the shop's famous goods?😉

   The Bulldog became one of our regular hangout spots during our stay in Amsterdam, mostly because we were obsessed with Mitchell -- who didn't mind me twerking in the shop. But no, that's not where we spent all of our time.

   One on of our most touristy days, Jaselle and I went to this cute breakfast shop -- which I forgot the name of -- sorry, guys -- and had a good 'ol fashioned Dutch breakfast. I had Dutch pancakes, which were huge, flat pancakes with extra sweet syrup, along with bacon (of course) and toast. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Dutch toast is the equivalent of an American grilled cheese sandwich -- needless to say, I annihilated that thang! Meanwhile, my dear Jaselle had a dish called poffertjes, which are tiny, adorable pancakes. Seriously, they were super cute.

   Next stop: Van Gogh Museum!

    The museum was amazing! I'd always been a distant fan of Vincent Van Gogh's work, but seeing his life through his art and that of his contemporaries up close gave me a deeper appreciation for the artist. Fun fact: Van Gogh didn't decide to be an artist until he was 27. He built his iconic legacy in only 10 years before fatally shooting himself in the stomach in 1890. 

  Side note:  I really enjoyed Van Gogh's 1885 portrait of a group of peasants called The Potato Eaters -- he was obsessed with peasant life and even moved from the city to the country for the sake of his work. The painting is dark and dreary and heavily detailed and beautiful. But my favorite Van Gogh painting of all is Sunflowers, which he painted a year before his death. It's a wonky bouquet of sunflowers with varying yellows. I even bought a print of the art from the museum's gift shop.

 And no. I did not see Starry Night. It turns out the museum rented the famous painting out to the Museum of Modern Art -- in New York😒😒😒

  It's okay, though. The museum was one of the highlights of the entire trip, along with the Anne Frank House. After standing in line for 525,600 minutes, Jaselle and I toured the secret annex where Frank and her family hid from Nazi persecution. It was heavy. No talking went on during the tour, no photos, of course, and the atmosphere was eerie and downcast. 

   We read her letters, explored the tiny room her family called home, learned about her hopes and dreams, and saw videos from those who knew her best. The experience was enough to make anyone cry. But, I will say, amid the sorrow and angry undercurrents, was an atmosphere of hope and inspiration. The allegorical nature of her life and death wasn't lost on me.

   After the emotional, art-filled adventures of the day, Jaselle and I headed to the iconic I Amsterdam Sign and took maaaad pictures. I showed off my athletic side and climbed on top of a few of the massive letters -- I struggled, but I did it. Some mean lady tried to tell me to stop twerking on top of the letters, but I'm sure she was just jealous because she couldn't throw it back like I can. Anywho...

    Jaselle and I did so many cool things during our time in Amsterdam. We went to an old-fashioned Dutch cheese factory, tried a raw fish snack and took a stroll through the famous red-light district.

    We ended our time in the Netherlands with a trip to the picturesque town of Volendam. Guys, this is seriously one of the most beautiful places I'd ever seen. Jaselle and I were in awe of the colorful wooden houses and had our fill of the food sold by vendors near the Markermeer Lake. 

    What I loved most about Amsterdam is that even amid the modernity and slightly Westernized nature of the city and its people, there was no shortage of culture every where we went. Alongside Apple stores and coffeeshops were canal homes and art deco-esque buildings. Being surrounded by the rich, consuming culture was amazing. 

  Now, I find it so silly that I wasn't exactly looking forward to Amsterdam. It's beautiful and amazing and I didn't deserve it! Ironically, it was freezing cold throughout our stay in the city -- until our last day, of course. It went from a brisk 45 degrees to nearly 80. I was a bit salty about that, but the change in weather permitted our beautiful hour-long boat tour around the city. 

   Although I was not too excited to go to Amsterdam, I absolutely hated to leave. I wasn't sad for too long, though. Because I couldn't wait to get to our next destination: Paris🇫🇷