The first thing that comes to mind that I should write about (and thus what this post will be about) is that I went to Amsterdam with my host family! I might have already explained this in my last post, but in Hamburg, there is a two week vacation out of school in the fall - Herbstferien. I had it for the last two weeks of October - this week was my first week back in school. Having two weeks off of school in itself was an amazing thing. I like school here, but a break is almost always a good thing. Getting back in the groove of going to school was not easy, but I did it (as I write this post, German phrases keep popping up that I could use in the text. It's a good thing, but it also makes writing the English a little more difficult).
My Oma is from Amsterdam, and so I have always wanted to go to Amsterdam, to see where she came from, what she might have seen when she lived there. Also, Amsterdam had always just seemed like an interesting city in itself, to me. So when it was decided for certain that my host family and I were going to go to Amsterdam for a few days, I was super excited!
The car ride was not that bad (for me). I think it was only five or six hours. I bought a book right before we left, The Martian by Andy Weir, and so I had that in part to keep me busy, and I also had my art sketchbook (and of course I had two of my host siblings to hang out with, too).
The first day, we arrived in the afternoon, so we did a lot of wandering. We got to go to the Anne Frank House Museum, which was so cool. I never would have thought that I would have been able to go there in my lifetime (it always seemed like a good place to see, but there is also so much in this world), and now I can say that I have! It was interesting to see this representation of life in hiding in the Netherlands during World War Two. I will be honest - Anne Frank's house was quite different from how I imagined it. It has been so long since I last read The Diary of Anne Frank, so I think my imagination had the chance to take it and turn it into a small dark corner that would be horrible to be stuck in. But it wasn't (although it would still not be fun to be confined to the amount of space that Anne Frank was confined to). It was a house/office building, from what I understand. There was a bookshelf door, and behind that was where Anne Frank and her family and friends had to stay. There were more rooms than I had imagined. But it was also just as dark as I had thought it would be.
The line for the Anne Frank House Museum was very long, but I think it was worth it. While I was waiting with my host family, I saw that there was a shop selling Amsterdam tourist-y things. I thought "Why not?" and went over to see it. I ended up buying a gray hoodie sweatshirt with the words Amsterdam on it, and a bicycle printed on it. I actually really like it, not just because it is basically my main Amsterdam souvenir, but also simply because es gafällt mir (it pleases me, or makes me happy). It looks nice. All of my souvenirs from Amsterdam was clothing, which wasn't intentional, but it ended up being that way. I got a black sweater with white flecks, and a Hard Rock Cafe t shirt (with the Hard Rock Cafe shirt, I got it in medium, as I got my Berlin shirt in a medium and had assumed that that would work too. It's too big, which I didn't discover until I got back home to Hamburg. Oh well, I have a pajama shirt now, I suppose!)
After the Anne Frank House, we wandered around a bit, everyone else took photos (my phone battery died in the line for the Anne Frank House), and then we had supper, which was at a Wok place. It was pretty good, but it filled me up so I had to take it with me in a bag for later on... and it began to leak. Oh well. It was a little messy, but at least we were walking, so I didn't leak the sauces all over my host families car.
One note: I had always thought that the thing about Amsterdam and marijuana was exaggerated out of proportion, and that it was only to be found in cafes, and places similar to that. Nope, marijuana was all over the place. Not only in cafes, but also lots of people would be smoking it in the streets (we actually saw a security guard smoking a joint of marijuana as we were leaving a boat tour of the canals of Amsterdam on our second day). It was interesting to see that it wasn't a stereotype or something of the sorts blown out of proportion, but was in fact quite accurate.
We also got to see the Van Gogh Museum while we were in Amsterdam. I think that that might have been one of my favourite parts of our trip (along with something else that I will tell you about later on). Not only was there a lot of art by Van Gogh, but there was also art by Munch as well. My inner art geek that I didn't even really know I had came out of hiding during my time there, and I was completely awestruck. I want to go there again someday, if I ever can. The museum explores the art of both of those artists, but also goes through each of their lives and the striking similarities between the two of their lives. It was a scream, our time there (see what I did there?)! I got to see so many original paintings by these painters, like The Scream, for example. I also got to see a lot more art that I had never seen before - I loved it.
We also got to see the I Amsterdam sign, which was right outside of the Rijksmuseum. We didn't go through the Rijksmuseum (it was closed by the time we got there), which is okay. It was still really beautiful, and we got to see the entrance. There is also a tunnel that goes through it, and every time we passed through it there would be a different street musician or orchestra playing - the acoustics in there were beautiful, and it was awesome to hear the music.
On our last day in Amsterdam, we got to go to the Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzets Museum, as it was called in Dutch). It was about the World War Two times in the Netherlands, and it talked about how the Dutch reacted to it, what life was like at that time period, and also showed how a lot of the Dutch resisted against the Nazi occupation, and remained true to their queen. It was a very interesting museum. I think we only intended to spend an hour or so there (in size it is not a very big museum), but I think we accidentally spent at least four hours there. That was a close runner up for the tie for my favourite parts of Amsterdam (let's be honest - pretty much everything we did in Amsterdam was my favourite part, this is only if I really had to pick favourites).
After that, my host family took me to see the house that my Oma used to live in. That I think was my other favourite part of Amsterdam. I really liked seeing exactly where part of my family came from. I'll be honest though - as we were driving our way towards it, I got really worried that the house would be ugly, or nothing like I had expected. I was pleasantly surprised - my Oma lived in a fairly nice house in Amsterdam.
After that, we loaded into the car, and started the drive home. We did more than that in Amsterdam, but that is what sticks out in my memory the most right now. It was fairly late by the time we got back home, but I think we all had a good time. The next day was Halloween, which was interesting. I didn't do anything special for Halloween. Some people celebrate it here, but not the majority. It felt a little weird but also completely normal at the same time.
I would like to post photos of my time in Amsterdam, and of some of the things I have mentioned, but I am worried that I will jinx this post somehow. Maybe in the future I will gather the confidence to post photos on here again. For now, I hope that this will do.
Hopefully all is well with you guys, and I (legitimately) hope to have another post up soon!
Talk to you later!