Monday, May 24, 2010

More People, More Fun

I don't think I have ever been nearly as exhausted as I was today when leaving Amsterdam. This may have had something to do with the fact that I haven't been able to sleep for the past few days.. is it excitement, the fact that the sun doesn't set until wayyy too late, or just pure insomnia? On the upside, the lack of sleep has been made up by tons of great memories and fun times.

This morning, Caleb, Bonnie, Jean, Kaitlin and I took our first train ride and successfully made it there in one piece!! I'm not sure if you understand, but that's a huge accomplishment considering there's others on our group that unfortunately spent all day on trains and buses and never made it to their anticipated final destination.

Upon arriving in Amsterdam, we aimlessly wandered around the city looking for FOOD! ...probably the fact that we walk everywhere has made us constantly hungry!.. So, we stopped at what we thought to be a donut shop --which it was-- but ordered the "bacon sandwich." In America, usually when you order a bacon sandwich (or any sandwich for that matter), you expect there to be a bit of flavor and more food than what you ordered. Not here! I ordered a bacon sandwich, and I got bacon on bread.. oh wait! .. and mayonnaise! blehh! But, we were satisfied.

The five of us hopped on a bus and headed down to the Van Gogh Museum. Our museumkaarts (museum passes) not only got us in for free, but allowed us to cut the looong line! It's like having a fastpass at DisneyLand! :) Van Gogh's art was beautiful! Each painting, even within the same year, had a different personality, texture and story to tell. It was so interesting to observe his paintings and also read his reasoning behind the art. A few that stood out to me were these:

Courting Couples in the Voyer d'Argenson Park in Asnieres

The Almond Blossom (inspired by his newborn nephew)

The Sea at Saintes- Maries- de- la- Mer .. It was neat to see his original signature in the bottom left.

From there, we wandered a bit more down to a beautiful park for what we were hoping to be a photo op on the famous I AMsterdam letters. Little did we know, we'd have a lot more fun sitting next to the "foot pool" and people watching. Amsterdam is a lot prettier, brighter and less polluted than I had imagined it to be. I loved the scenery and interacting with people who are in a hurry to get somewhere! In Maastricht, people take life slow and enjoy every moment. Maastricht also has less people making it more homey and distinguished from the populated, crazy Amsterdam.

Later, we stopped by another park along the walk to the Anne Frankhuis. This somewhat reminded me of a cleaner Central Park. People laying on the grass, unicycling, playing the violin, and just taking in LIFE.

FINALLY, after a loooong and confusing voyage to find the Anne Frank house (I was determined), we found it! I have read the book and seen the movie, but nothing will compare to the real life experience of being in the very same rooms and walking the same steps as Anne Frank and the other 7 Jews being hidden in the attic of this factory. My favorite part was in Anne's room: all of her wall decorations -- which came from magazine cut outs, comics, and pictures taken -- were still there! I could try to regurgitate every fact I learned, but I'd rather soak in the experience and take it for what it's worth. I only made me look forward to witnessing a concentration camp even more.

The Anne Frankhuis was the last stop of the day, so we headed back to Maastricht! All of us fell asleep in the train at some point, just proving the exhaustion we felt. It's tiring trying to find your way around a large city you've never been to, especially when everything is in some language other than "American!" haha!

Looks like tomorrow we will be heading to Brussels for the night to catch an early flight into Ireland Wednesday morning. I'm not sure what I expect out of Ireland ... I've learned to not expect anything because it'll never be what you imagine! I will not have my computer, so I will have to record the trip into my blog once we return to Maastricht!


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