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“Dinner’s at 7:00 p.m., that means we have two hours to kill. How about hitting up a coffee shop or a bar?” my friend asked. I giggled and said, “Okay, let’s see what these coffee shops are about.” We walked over, and before I could even see the coffee shop, I could smell it.

Date: May 8th, 2016
Time: 10:35 p.m. – 22:35 EST
Location: My Friend’s Apartment – Netherlands, Amsterdam

Yesterday my friend and I woke up unsure of what to do, and although it took us a while, we managed to plan out a rough draft of our day: breakfast at his place, then walking through the plazas and city, lunch at any place that looks enticing, the Amsterdam Museum, dinner at 7 p.m., and then finally the infamous Red Light District. Our schedule although seemingly packed, had lots of wiggle room. It would be a day full of culture and intrigue.

We began by walking through a local market in the city. It was packed with people, tourists and locals alike and reminded me a lot of the flea markets in Mexico – on one side you saw cheap clothes, on the other American electronics, and on the next table down fresh fish.

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Poffertjes in the Market

The real highlight of the market was getting to taste Poffertjes; they’re these little golden mini pancakes of deliciousness that are fried and covered in butter and powdered sugar. My mouth was was in heaven.

 

We continued walking around, and my friend showed me most of the beautiful important

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National War Monument

buildings in the city, like the royal palace and the Rembrandt Monument. The architecture was striking, and the city was humming with life. We stopped at a bagel place for lunch, and I realized that I had never had real cream cheese. I don’t know what they’re doing out here, but I’m convinced that all of the food is better. No exceptions.

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Rembrandt Monument

The next stop was the Amsterdam Museum. It cost about 10 euros with a student discount and was honestly worthwhile. Although I’m not a big history buff, it was interesting to explore the history of this beautiful city. The art pieces they had were stunning, and it was very interactive, so I didn’t just feel like I was on a high school field trip. One of the most interesting exhibits they had was on the exploration of the media’s portrayal of prostitution. It’s interesting to be in a city that is so much more liberal in its ideology on drugs and sex.

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Exploring the Amsterdam Museum

After exploring the museum for about 2.5 hours, we continued walking around the city, and this is when we decided to check out a coffee shop. We ended up at one owned by some Spaniards so I felt just at home with the Latin music playing in the background. We purchased a little 8 euro joint of “Pure Joy,” and I know it hit me because about 20 minutes in I turned around and told my friend, “Oh my God! Daddy Yankee! It’s like because he’s from New York, you know, like he’s a Yankee!” What a trip.

Kindof of fuzzy from our Pure Joy, we hopped on a bus and headed over to dinner. My friend had made a reservation for us at this Indonesian place, Jun,

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Dinner at Jun

and I was very intrigued to see what the food would be like. The waiter asked if we were familiar with the menu, and since I wasn’t, I let my friend take the wheel. We ordered a traditional entrée meant to be shared between two, and it did not disappoint. The Rice Plates came with a bunch of different meats and veggies, and everything was rich in flavor and taste. I left with a deep yearning to make it out to Bali and explore everything Indonesia had to offer.

 

With full stomachs, we hopped on another bus and made our way over to the Red Light District. As we began walking towards it, my friend pointed out the massive church right at the entrance. The irony was not lost upon me. Part of what made this area so interesting was the people who crowded the streets. Future brides and their bridesmaids walked around in matching outfits, and tourists from all over the world stared with eyes wide open at the girls in the windows. A lot of the women on display seemed completely uninterested as they texted on their phones or stared off into the distance, but it was a little funny to see how they started flirting with anyone who was bold enough to make eye contact with them.

We saw a group of two guys encouraging their friend to take a chance, but ultimately they ended up walking away. “They never really go through with it,” my friend said with a chuckle. A few minutes later we saw an old man in his 60s walk out of a room looking very satisfied. I think you could easily spend hours in the area observing the sights and debating the culture around the massive sex industry, but we were starting to get tired, so instead we grabbed some ice cream and made our way back home.

 

 

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Sofia – Da Portare Via pancetta, spinach, ricotta, tomato sauce, mozzarella, salt and pepper

 

The next morning we decided we would take a train out of the city, but first,
we would need to grab lunch. Since it was such a beautiful day outside, I suggested getting a pizza and sitting out be the canal. We ordered this delicious pizza called the “Sofia,” and it was perhaps one of the best pizzas I’ve had in my life – that being said, I will be visiting Rome pretty soon, so it can only go up from here.

 

 

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Zaandajik

 

 

 

Afterward, we got onto a train and went out into this little town called Zaandijik. It was famous for once being the spot with the most windmills in any one location. Although it was a little bit of a

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Stroopwafle

touristy attraction, I enjoyed getting out of the city for a bit. We went up into one of the windmills and got to see how it uses wind power to saw through timber. We also sampled different cheeses and explored a wooden shoe shop. Finally, I got to try Stroopwafel, and yes, it was a delicious gooey treat, but in my opinion,Poffertjes had it beat.

 

 

Exploring the little town on foot wore us out, so we ended up making it back to his apartment around 6:00 p.m. We ordered delicious Indian takeout, and I began to plan for my next trip. I’m so grateful that I had such a great friend to guide me through Amsterdam, but I know that the rest of my trip will be a whole different type of adventure. Tomorrow I arrive in Berlin around 2:30 p.m., and I am both nervous and excited to see what this beautiful and interesting city has to offer. As for now, I’m going to pack up my Ospry and get ready for another adventure.