Amsterdam!

Apologies once more for being terrible at updating the blog, we’ve had so many things going on in the past couple weeks that it’s been nearly impossible to find time to write this thing. Never realized blogs could actually be somewhat stressful in that you feel a strange sense of responsibility to keep updating them. Feel like usually this wouldn’t be a problem, but with so many different experiences and travels across the world it’s proven nearly impossibly to stay on top of.

Regardless, I am currently in England at my lovely cousin Ruth’s apartment, and have finally had a chance to relax and write a bit. Have had a fantastic trip to England so far, and will be cooking some scrambled eggs for breakfast on what will be my final day in Europe after a long and adventurous 4 months. Incredibly strange to think that i am going back home to the United States after all of our travels and experiences, and i feel like a completely different person than when i left but i am excited to get back home and see my family, awesome dog Romeo, and friends! Should be interesting to see how my relationships are with all of the people whom i haven’t seen in so long, and how i briefly re-adjust to US culture, etc.

Studying abroad has been amazing in every sense of the world, but i will save that post for later. Once i get home, i should have some time to update the blog in regards to our trips to Paris, the incredible week that was Feria, one of the best days of my life, the tough days saying goodbye to sevilla and our new API family, and finally study abroad in general/ what the future may hold..

Anyways, here are some details in regards to our adventure to Amsterdam…Enjoy!

Amsterdam

Our flight landed in Brussels around 4pm, and from there on it was a race to figure out how to make it to our 7pm Eurolines bus ride to Amsterdam. We took an hour bus to the train station, and from there we illegally train hopped to the Eurolines bus station. We hurriedly grabbed some food at the convenience store, and then hopped on the bus to begin our 3-hour or so ride to Amsterdam! After a quick stop at a ridiculously nice rest stop, which was home to the nicest McDonalds I’ve ever seen, we finally arrived in Amsterdam after our full day of traveling.

We got in around 11pm, eager to meet up with one of our best buds, Gavin Elliott, who was studying abroad in Vienna for the year. Since Gavin had been studying abroad for the whole year, it had been nearly 8 months since we had last seen him, and we could barely contain our excitement in anticipation of seeing him. As Amsterdam is such a popular tourist destination during this time of the year, and we were a relatively large group we were unable to all get bookings in the same hostel so me, sean, ollie and kari were in one hostel, while Nick, Jared and Mike were in another. Jared is one of our good friends from API Sevilla study abroad, who was in Mallorca and decided to come meet up with us in Amsterdam.

We were staying at this fantastic hostel called the Flying Pig Uptown the first couple nights, and it was easily one of the coolest hostels I’ve ever been to. As we walked in, one of our favorite study abroad songs, Barbara, Streisand began to blast on the speakers, marking a sign of only good things to come during our wild visit to the city. The reception was actually located at a full bar which was located in the hostel, and they even had a crazy smoking room that was open 24/7. We got our rooms, and to our surprise the beds we had booked were actually doubles, so Sean and I ended up having to share a bed for all of our Amsterdam adventure haha.

Hostel bar/reception

After getting settled in at our hostel and grabbing a couple Juniper beers at the bar, we met up with Nick and Mike and went about searching for our buddy Gavin!

First (But definitely not last) Junipers in Amsterdam!

We’ve quickly learned that while traveling in foreign countries, the lack of phones can be problematic, and extremely expensive. Despite this issue, we eventually managed to meet up with our buddy Gavin and had a glorious reunion! It was so great to see him after so long, and we all spent the rest of the night catching up, reminiscing over great memories, and looking forward to making some new ones in Amsterdam. Meeting up with him in Amsterdam was somewhat of a surreal experience, as it was one of those things we had always talked about in the year leading up to our abroad experience, but I had never actually envisioned us following through with it for whatever reason. With that said, I couldn’t have been happier we made it happen as the experience was all we could have hoped for and more.

Best friends re-united!

The next day, we met up with Nick, Jared and Mike and headed off to explore the city. We went to a couple coffee shops, and then afterwards went to the hemp museum where I learned of hundreds of fascinating uses for hemp that I had never considered before.

Entering the Hemp museum

Following that, we went to the China town area to grab a bite. As spain is generally lacking in the way of flavor in their food and dishes which don’t involve Ham and Cheese, I was rather excited to dive into some Asian food. There had actually been one particular dish that I was dying for since the day I left the US, which is actually my favorite meal in the world. Thai Basil Chicken. Fortunately enough, Amsterdam came through and I found some basil chicken and had an absolutely delicious meal : ).

Amazing 🙂

After walking around some more, we decided to head off to Vonderful Vondel Park. As I have noticed through traveling around Europe, many of the major cities have beautiful parks and they are all well worth a visit. Vondel park proved to be no exception, and we spent a fantastic afternoon chilling out, playing some Frisbee, and listening to some good tunes courtesy of the portable party pack.

Vondel Park!

Lovely afternoon

After a long day out and about in the city, we all went back to the hostel and grabbed a couple beers before passing out in preparation for another interesting day ahead.

Shane’s Birthday!

The next morning marked the 21st birthday of one Seamus Duffy Tully. As you can expect, It was a ridiculous day. He started the day off with a couple morning Junipers and we set off to see more of the city and celebrate. The van gogh museum was located not too far from our hostel and we had heard great things so we decided to check it out. It was absolutely amazing, and one of those places that you must absolutely visit in your life. Before this trip, I had never really been too keen on museums or art exhibits, but this museum was one of the reasons I have changed my perceptions. We were there for what felt like hours, getting lost in beautiful paintings, and appreciating the incredible works of a masterful artist. Unfortunately, you weren’t allowed to take pictures and i was too fascinated by what i was seeing to worry about taking photos so no pics from the van gogh museum

The I amsterdam sign

Similar to all of the other days on our Eurotrip, it was an absolutely gorgeous day out. We were fortunate enough to have perfect weather in all of the cities we visited, and led us to believe that we, and those who have been touched by Sevilla bring the sun with them wherever they may travel. (I am currently in traditionally rainy and overcast England, and have had perfect weather all 4 days!) My best friend Naomi, who was studying abroad in Amsterdam happened to have arrived in Amsterdam that afternoon as she was embarking on her end of the semester eurotrip, so we all decided to meet up in Vondel Park.

Vonderful Vondel Park!

Soo pretty!

After some searching of the park, we finally stumbled upon Naomi, Kirsten and Brittany! It was the fourth time Naomi and I had managed to meet up in Europe, and I am glad to say we kept up on our promise of running into each other at least a couple times during our European adventures.

Look who we found!

We spent a few hours soaking up some sun, people watching, and having some fun. A couple of brittany’s friends had bikes that they had asked us to watch, so instead of just staring at them we decided to take them for a spin. It felt only fitting that the first time I rode a bike in what felt like years came in Amsterdam, as I have never seen so many bikes or people biking in one place. After 30 minutes of biking around and getting lost in the giant park, we eventually made it back to the group as the sun was setting.

Cool treees

Epic bike ride partners

From the park, our hostel was nearby so we headed over there to grab a couple beers. While sitting there, we happened to see one of our good friends, Chris Kiernan, from API just sitting in the lobby of our hostel on his laptop. It was a ridiculous coincidence, as we met studying abroad in Spain and ran into each on the same day in the same hostel in another European city. We also were fortunate enough to have Jared find us, as we had been separated all day for one reason or another, and the lack of phones combined with Junipers made meeting up nearly impossible.

We found Jared, or more like Jared found us!

That night, we hit up the infamous red-light district to see what all the hype was about. It was a trip. The area was just as you would imagine, lined with red lights and scantily clad women in the windows seductively attempting to lure anyone or thing that walked by to come in for some 50 euro fun. After the unique and interesting experience, we said goodbye to Jared who had a late night bus to catch, and headed back to our respective hostels. Apparently you will get chased if you take pics in the red-light district, and that sounded like no fun so no pics from there.

Group outside 420 cafe on 4/20!

Next day

The next morning, we woke up rather early as we had to move to our next hostel. We had been staying at the flying pig uptown, but were now moving on to the flying pig downtown. The location of our new hostel was really nice, and the hostel even nicer. Once more, the reception was a bar and it had a pool table and smoking room in the lobby. Also once more, Sean and I had the pleasure of sharing a full bed again haha.

Hostel Lobby

Our accomodations

Nick and Hirsh had an early morning bus they were catching to Paris, so it was just me, sean, kari and oliver in Amsterdam along with Gavin and Shane who were off somewhere in the city. We had literally spent all day trying to meet up with the two of them, but Gavin’s phone had stopped working so we had no way of meeting up with them, and figured we would just end up seeing them in Paris.

After some Spanish style mid-afternoon beers at the reception, and possibly some Jager bombs to start the day we grabbed some absolutely delicious Wok to Walk for lunch. Wok to walk is a fantastic quick service restaurant concept that serves delicious stir fry of your choice in heaping portions at relatively affordable prices. As such, I managed to have it approx. 5 times during my travels around Europe, and would be a big advocate of the chain opening a branch in college park haha.

Ms.Treasure was clearly thirsty that afternoon

Wok to walk!

We decided that we should hit up some more of Amsterdam’s famous museums, so we started by taking a look at the Sex Museum. By far one of the strangest places I’ve ever been to, and although I’m glad I went could not imagine myself going back to that unusual place.

Sex Museum

After the museum, the gang headed back to the hostel as I went off in search of some souvenirs from the city. After picking up a hat and a shot glass, I decided to check out the coffee shop next door to the souvenir shop. As I’m walking down the stairs of the shop towards the exit, I hear a loud “Sahil!!” and it is no other than the one and only Gavin Elliott with Seamus Duffy Tully. In a matter of serious serendipity, they had happened to be in the same coffee shop discussing how they were going to find us, as I walked down the stairs.

Serendipity at it’s finest!

We sat down, and enjoyed some fantastic coffee before going back to the hostel to show the rest of the gang who I had run into.

Gavin decided to do some headstands

We all went to the local grocery store and grabbed some beers and wine, and then sat down by one of Amsterdam’s beautiful canals to take in the sights and sounds of the city.

By the canal!

There was a mini carnival/fair type thing set up right near the centre of the city, so naturally we decided to take a look. There were tons of different rides and attractions to see, but there was one in particular which caught our eye. It looked similar to the large swing rides where it swings you around in circles, however this one was different. You were actually 100% horizontal on the ride. As crazy as it looked, we decided we had to do it.

Fair thing

Gavin and I sat next to each other on the ride, and we screamed our lungs out the entire time as we flew in dizzying circles hundreds of feet above the ground overlooking the city below. It was one of the craziest experiences of my life, and I’m so glad we did it!

Yea, we rode that.

Afterwards, we strolled through the red-light district one last time and decided to catch a disgusting, fascinating and disturbing 2-euro peep show. We headed back to our hostel and packed up all of our bags as we prepared to take off on our early morning bus to lovely Paris, France the next morning.

All in all, Amsterdam was an absolutely amazing and unforgettable experience. It was fantastic to see and spend time with two of my best friends in Naomi and Gavin.

Gavin and I on the tram!

If you have the opportunity to visit I would highly recommend doing so, as the city has so much more to offer than the coffee shops and red light district that come to mind when the city is mentioned.

Cheers,

Sahil

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