Europe Week Nine: Amsterdam

Hallo!

Coffee shops and Cafes are not the same thing in Amsterdam. One sells weed, the other sells coffee. I only made that mistake once. This city is full of little quirks that make it so special. For example, people in the Netherlands do not close their window shades at home. I looked into too many families having dinner together. Honestly though, it may be my favorite city in Europe, thus far. Great shopping, great food and a really fun atmosphere. People in Amsterdam just seem happy, and how could you not be in a city defined by water and canals.

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Amsterdam is famous for their cheese. Did you know Gouda cheese originated from the Netherlands? Well now you do. It’s sold everywhere. However, to my surprise there is a lot of Belgian influence in Amsterdam. Much more than I expected. It seemed like an extension of Brussels (I’m assuming). Let me tell you, Belgian food is delicious. They definitely have the best fries and beer in Europe, which is what most of my meals consisted of. Also Heineken originated from Amsterdam and I think it tastes better there, too. Thanks to some very helpful tips from my cousins who lived there for two year I was able to get the best of everything in record time. I’ve also become a pro at seeing everything a city has to offer in a weekend. My average is walking 15 miles a day on weekends.

I tried to go to the Anne Frank House but tickets are sold out months in advance and I was not going to wait in a two hour line. I did make it to the Van Gogh museum. His paintings are beautiful and the museum does a great job showing his decent into craziness. Only downside is that each museum is 18 euros. The Red Light District was free to walk though. Something I plan on only doing once.

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This trip I stayed about an hour outside of the city in city called Wassenar, just beyond The Hague. It’s where all of the embassy’s and government officials live, including the queen. I even biked by the queen’s residence! Even the train ride in the city was beautiful. With a sea of tulip fields next to cows and sheep on the ride in, it felt like I was in a movie. I can’t talk enough about how stunning the country is. An unexpected perk of staying outside of Amsterdam was I was able to explore a part of the country that the typical tourist does not get to see. Amsterdam vs The Hauge is like New York vs Boston. It’s got an awesome mix of art, culture and government. Just beautiful and would highly encourage you to take a day trip there.

As I may have mentioned in earlier emails that many movies set in Europe are filmed in Prague. Last week Bruce Willis was on my street. That was cool. The movie is set in Nazi Germany, so you can imagine my surprise when I walk out my door and my street is covered in SS Officers and Swastikas. Fortunately it was just for the movie. It was pretty neat to see a whole Hollywood movie crew set up outside my window.

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Last Saturday I decided I wanted to go somewhere this weekend. So, I leave for Copenhagen tomorrow morning! It’s supposed to be beautiful, just a little rainy. It’s the only solo trip I’m doing and I’m pretty excited about it. The food is supposed to be incredible. Better question, why would I ever go somewhere with bad food? I’ll let you know how I end up. Sadly, I won’t be seeing Madonna in Prague this weekend.

Finally, you can follow this link to see all of my pictures thus far: Mark in Europe

Much love from Prague

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