Amsterdam was a much bigger city than I was expecting. After Brussels and Bruges, I thought the rest of my stops in Europe would be of the same caliber, but this was quite the active city! I saw numerous sex shops and a beer bicycle cart on my walk from the train station to my hotel alone. It was shocking, but definitely fit with the Amsterdam I had heard about.
I really wanted to get the historical feel for the area though, so my first stop was the Anne Frank House. The tour was so fascinating and I had learned so much that I hadn’t know before; it is definitely a required stop to any trip to Amsterdam. It was amazing to see in person and realize all of the struggles that went on during the Nazi era. On my walk home, I popped into a café for dinner that I thought looked the most authentic and oh my was it delicious! I had these little tapas-style sandwiches made with prosciutto and Iberian ham with a bowl of some soup. I have no idea what the soup was, but it was quite the delicious meal that I wish I could recreate or even recall the name of the restaurant so you could visit it, but I only remember it being next to a bridge over the river.
Near my hotel was a huge building with a well-lit sign that read “Debuenkorf,” also known as “de Bijenkorf” to the locals. At first I thought it was a fancy hotel like The Plaza in New York city, but it turns out that it is a big department store like Harrod’s or Macy’s. It is seven stories tall! I could’ve spent many days in that store, but luckily I was leaving the next day and already had a full suitcase.
Actually, I don’t believe I’ve mentioned anything about my gear or the logistics behind packing for over a month. When I was 12, my mother had taken my brother and I on a month-long “backpacking” trip around Europe. Though we spent the first two weeks in the UK with family, we still had to pack light, so we purchased lightweight backpacks from REI that had wheels and a handle that would pop up so you can roll it like a suitcase; this is what I used on this trip. It was easily carried to get up and down stairs in train stations as well as small enough to store in the overhead bins that were on most of my trains, with the convenience of wheels when I was feeling lazy.