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The woman’s look of amusement quickly turned into one of sheer panic as my bike sped in her direction, I shouted a slur of expletives and by the grace of God I managed to stop right before crashing into her. I apologized a thousand time. “Really, it’s okay,” she said with a sincere look of understanding, and then I forced myself to start pedaling again.

Date: May 8th, 2016
Time: 2:10 a.m. – 02:10 CET
Location: My friend’s apartment – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Friday morning I woke up before 8 a.m. much to my surprise; I thought I would sleep in super late since I barely slept during my two days of traveling, but from the get go my body was craving adventure. My friend and I ate a quick breakfast at his apartment, got dressed, and headed out to see the city. He insisted that the first thing we had to do was rent me a bike. As soon as the word “bike” came out of his mouth, I panicked. I honestly can’t even remember the last time I was on a bike, and I certainly had never ridden one out on the streets with traffic. He assured me this was the best method of transportation, and I gave in.

The bike cost 25 euros to rent from Friday to Sunday, and let me just say getting on it was no easy feat. My friend had planned on biking to the park so we could practice, but we ended up having to walk our bikes there because I couldn’t even make it up a hill.

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“Enjoying” my bike

Two little French girls were cracking up as they watched me struggle to figure out where exactly the stupid expression it’s like riding a bike came from. After spending about 45 minutes biking through the park, I finally began to feel much more comfortable. Okay. Maybe I wouldn’t die on this thing after all.

Once I started getting the hang of it, I really began to enjoy biking through the city. I’ll admit, it felt very intimidating to be so close to other cars, but one of the cool things about Amsterdam is that bikes get their own lane, and they usually have right of way. It definitely made me wish Atlanta was a more bike friendly city.

The first placed we biked to was the famous spot of the I Amsterdam letters, at the back of Riijksmuseum on Museumplein. Tourists crowded the area. My friend and I sat down by the fountain taking it all in.

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S is for struggle

I could have sat there for hours happily just people watching. The square was pulsating with energy from all of the people so excited to be in such an exhilarating city. Eventually though, we stood up, and I picked out what letter I would try to hop on top of for my picture. “S” was be my choice naturally, but when it came time for my turn I couldn’t even manage to shimmy halfway up the letter, fortunately my friend did take a few funny candids of me struggling to find my way to the the top.

 

My friend had rented a boat for three hours, so at 2:00 p.m. we made our way down to one of the canals and hopped in this adorable boat that went the incredibly fast speed of 3 mph. Despite the slow pace of the boat, we enjoyed every bit of the ride. We maneuvered our way through rivers and canals at a leisurely pace and were able to take

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Adorable boat houses along the canal

in the city from a different perspective. Throughout the ride I found myself appreciating Amsterdam’s architecture more and more. Here’s a fun fact: most buildings in the city have large windows and some type of levy system on the front because that’s how they get furniture inside. Can you imagine hoisting a couch up to your apartment with a rope? I felt at peace getting to see so much beauty, the river reflected the bright sun, and I found myself being seduced by Amsterdam’s quirky charm.

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Taking in Amsterdam

When the boat ride ended, we decided to head to a bar because my friend was determined to instill in me an appreciation of beer. We biked to this spot called Cafe Vrijdag, which translates to Cafe Friday and ordered two beers – both were awful in my opinion, so instead I happily settled on a chardonnay. A few drinks in, he exclaimed, “Oh my God, you have to try bitterbals,” and when the waiter brought them to the table my mouth watered. Bitterbals are basically deep fried meatballs, and oh man they were delicious.

We decided it was time to grab something a little more substantial for dinner and ended up at this delicious burger joint. Clearly, anything Americans can do Europeans can do better because that burger rocked my world. AND THE FRIES. Man on man the fries. Crispy, salty, beacons of goodness. However, the ketchup there sucked. In case you didn’t know, the Dutch do mayo on their fries. No thanks. You can take the girl out of America, but you can’t take America out of the girl. 

After dinner, we felt exhausted and decided to head back home. It was on the way back that I nearly killed a poor pedestrian. In my defense, I rang my little bell at her, and maybe it’s just me, but if I saw someone zooming towards me in a bike, I would definitely get out of the way… Fortunately we made it back home without any further incidents.

Here’s hoping I don’t fall into a canal on my bike before I make to Berlin. Now that’s something I’d gladly raise a glass to.