So here I am, sitting and eating my starbucks muffin and latte while waiting to get in line for security at the Amsterdam airport on my way home. Minus the no starbucks-giftcard rule at starbucks (please explain how a starbucks gift card is not accepted at Starbucks?) and my best friend not showing up to the I Amsterdam sign on time because he cant read a train schedule. Besides that, I have had an amazing time here in Amsterdam and met a lot of down to earth type of people. It was a radical change in environment from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam. The weather was in the mid 60s everyday- a great change from high 80s in Tel Aviv. My diet consisted of the basic staples of Amsterdam: waffles, nutella, kinder eggs (the surprise kind with the little toy inside), and cheese. The people were….well…not Israeli. The locals of Amsterdam were a bit more tame, less assertive, and in some cases more liberal-natured than Israelis (or maybe I was just fooled by the number of facial piercings I saw among the Dutch youth).
As for the main sites, I had the chance to explore the Van Gogh museum, Sex museum, medieval torture museum, hemp museum, I amsterdam sign, house of Anne Frank, Vondlepark, Tulip market, Dam square, Leidsplein square, and Rembrandt square. I also visited some of the first coffee shops in Amsterdam, the Bulldog, which is also the world’s only five star hostel (according to them). On Sunday, Vondlepark is filled with bikes strewn along the tall grass hedges abandoned by their owners who gather for free jazz in the park every Sunday afternoon. Oh yeah, Amsterdam is a pretty flat city, so everyone cycles (and yes, you can get run over by a bike (or tram since they run on the streets) if you try stepping into the bike lane- almost happened to me). The cool thing is that all the bikes come in all shapes in sizes- from bikes with wheelbarrows in front to bikes that have a seat for babies in the front.
However, if you ever go to Amsterdam, buy a GPS or make sure you have a background in cartography. I only say this because I got lost one too many times on an exorbitant number of Dutch streets. If I could go again, I think I would go with someone who likes getting lost as much as I do- just so we could explore the city more and feel just as accomplished when we finally understand our way around Amsterdam- or, at least, enjoy the gorgeous view of the many canals adjacent to the cobblestone roads on a sunny day in Amsterdam.