A Travellerspoint blog

More Amsterdam

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On Friday (the 27th) I decided to get out of the city for a bit and see the country side a bit. So I hopped onto a tour called the "Charm of Holland" and went for a day trip! For some semantics- Most people (myself included before this trip) think Holland is synonymous with the Netherlands, probably because at one time the Kingdom of Holland included what we now know as the Netherlands but currently if you ask a native where Holland is they tell you currently out of the 12 provinces that make up the Netherlands, there is a North Holland and a South Holland. So today calling the Netherlands Holland would be like calling the United States -Dakota. Not the same. Ok back to my trip. I went on a day trip to a windmill village where we saw a windmill that dates back to the 1700s, one was recently restored and fully functional as a wood saw windmill! We got to go inside and see it in action- super cool. But very slow, really not time efficient but hey what do I know. On a windy day it can saw 2 meters an hour. Also included on this trip was a cheese factory, a ferry ride to a cool island called Marken, and a trip to a wooden shoe factory! Some of the old towns were really cool! What interests me most is how on average Amsterdam and this area of the Netherlands is 1.5 meters below sea level! Which required them to built crazy dykes and dams to prevent farms and houses from flooding! Sometimes it worked and sometimes not.

That evening after the day trip I decided to rent a bike and bike around Vondelpark which is a huge park adjacent to my hostel; it's about half the size of golden gate park but with twice as many stoners as Dolores park if you can imagine! I stayed mostly in the park because the biking in the city is so intense I was frankly terrified. I know my limits haha.

The next day was pretty relaxed, did some more biking, went to the Rijksmuseum which houses a lot of Rembrandt and some more Van Gogh and had some lunch on the canal. That night I met a bunch of people at the hostel bar and we watched a big soccer match between two Madrid teams. I was sad to leave Amsterdam because it was my favorite city so far but excited about what's next!

Posted by EuroAsh 11:37 Comments (1)

Amsterdam!!

Goededag from Amsterdam!! I flew from Dublin to Amsterdam on the 24th, quick 1 hour flight and found my way to my hostel. The neighborhood I'm staying in is next to a beautiful park- Vondelpark and right next to the museum district. The most striking thing I noticed first about Amsterdam was all the gorgeous canals lined by boats and bikes and beautiful row houses. I have learned a lot about the history of Amsterdam and how it started as a trading and merchant city which led to the development of the canal system and whose sailors' hobbies led to the development of the Red Light District!

I went to the Anne Frank House which as expected was horrifically sad but a good experience. The museum was very well done and really honored her family and the father's employees who helped them while they were in hiding for two years. Unfortunately of the eight people in hiding, only the father survived. They had a lot of her original pages on display and I was able to walk through the actual annex where they lived. Very surreal and emotional experience I will never forget. I then ventured to the popular Van Gogh museum which houses over 200 of his paintings, sketches, and letters. The most fascinating thing to me was seeing his paintings throughout the various stages of his life, while he was learning and perfecting his art and also through his mental illness. Also I couldn't believe that he painted almost all of his paintings in only ten years! Toward the end when he was most psychotic he painted a painting a day! His use of color and stroke technique was so mesmerizing and I spent almost four hours in the museum and enjoyed every minute of it!

I met a bunch of other solo travelers in the hostel bar that night from Germany, Ireland, England, and India, and we all drank a few too many Bavaria (a Dutch beer) and shared our experiences and travel plans. The next day I did a free walking tour of the city and did some wandering on my own around the Red Light District. I also bought a coffee to go at a cafe, only to realize it was really a smoke shop and then spent the subsequent hour paranoid that it was a "special coffee".... But I think I was just hungry and hungover. The RLD is exactly how I thought it would be. Lots of ladies in windows, some beautiful and some not so much, and tons and tons of sex shops and smoking cafes. I learned a lot about the prostitution industry here in Amsterdam. They are independent contractors, pimps are illegal, it is a very controlled and safe practice; all the rooms have panic buttons and security. I also toured the Prostitution Museum! When in Rome... The tour guide and the workers in the museum talk of the industry in a very respectful manner and say these women work with their bodies just as a doctor works with his mind... Maybe a stretch, but definitely got me thinking.

My favorite part of Amsterdam is the culture of open mindedness and acceptance. As long as you are not hurting or violating someone else you can be whoever you want to be here and there is no judgement. For centuries the city has accepted people of all religions and sexualities and somehow they have found a way to live happily together. I also went to a memorial to honor homosexuals during WW2. I didn't know this but in similar fashion to the Jewish star, if you were gay here in Amsterdam during Nazi control you had to wear a pink triangle at all times. Near the Anne Frank House there is a beautiful set of three pink triangles that honor and remember those discriminated upon at that time and it was really beautiful and I think a nice tribute to a demographic we don't usually associate with the holocaust.

This has been my favorite city so far during this trip! It's beautiful, fun, free spirited, amazing food, and incredible museums! Tonight I'm going on a canal cruise and tomorrow I'm taking a day trip to see some windmills and cheese factories in the Holland country side! Good night 😻!

Posted by EuroAsh 09:08 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

Last of Ireland

When I last signed off I was on my way out to a castle and that's no joke. Carin knew some friends who had been attending a wedding at the castle so we joined them for drinks at the castle bar. Very cool but also a little dark and eerie but in a good way. The next day we made our way to the Dingle peninsula and did the beautiful Slea Head Drive. It was another cloudy and rainy day but we made the best of it. This drive was by far my favorite. Gorgeous cliffs along the ocean just adjacent to huge green farms sprinkled with sheep. Pretty unreal. We just said OMG for three hours straight. Due to rain we weren't able to do any hiking so we headed to Killarney where we checked into Dan Linehan's Bar and B&B. The hotel reception desk was the actual bar. Ireland problems. It was here I discovered a stout I liked even more than Guiness -Murphy's Irish Stout- and then just pissed off future bartenders by scoffing at their choice to serve Guinness over murphys. Ugh. The next day we did part of the Ring of Kerry and then the all too touristy Blarneys Castle. I don't care if I caught zika, I kissed that stone and would do it again. I pictured a little pebble on a pedestal that I would walk up to a give a little peck....no. The "stone" is part of a vertical wall which you can only approach by laying on your back, clutching onto two metal bars, and arching down and back while a loud Irishman pushes you further down until your mouth hits a part of the wall. Oh lord. It was terrifying! We walked around the gardens and grounds then headed to Cork where we went to a market, bought gigantic buckets (literally) of meat and potatoes and entered our food comas. Next day- Dublin! This was the first real city we hit along our travels. We saw Trinity College, Jameson Distillery, Guiness brewery, Oscar Wilde Memorial, and did lots of shopping and oh ya more Guinness drinking and live music. We loved the Guinness tour. The Guinness family did lots of philanthropy and helped develop a lot of the infrastructure in Dublin. They talked a lot about the brewing process of Guinness and I was amazed to find out that it is truly only four ingredients: barley, hops, yeast, and water. The tour ended with a pint on their top story bar with gorgeous views of the city. Also in Ireland I became fascinated with Oscar Wilde and picked up a copy of Picture of Dorian Gray and now I am questioning everything from my purpose on earth to my position on the kinsey scale... Dude was crazy. Next stop- Amsterdam!!

Posted by EuroAsh 07:33 Comments (1)

Ireland

Cheers from Ireland!! I arrived here on Tuesday the 17th and met up with Carin (friend from grad school) and Melissa (Carin's co-worker). We met in Dublin, picked up a rental car, and headed all the way across the country (took 2.5 hours) and arrived in Galway. We stayed in a part of town called Latin Quarter which is a cute cobblestoned neighborhood with tons of pubs, restaurants, and nightlife. We were right in the heart of it and immediately strolled into a pub to have my first Guinness! Yes the Guinness just tastes better here, no one knows why.

Warning about my pictures- it is very cold here and windy and rainy...all the time...and to NO ONE'S surprise I am underprepared and under dressed so you will see the same gray long sleeved shirt in all photos. Fail.

On Wednesday we drove up northwest to Connemara National Park which had gorgeous green farmland and beautiful coastal lookouts. We then went to a castle called Kylemore Abbey and Gardens and walked around the grounds. More beautiful castles. There are nuns that currently live in the castle and try make soap and chocolate. Finished our night with live Irish Music downtown Galway and lots more Guinness! (Mark- you would be so proud!) Ireland is green, like really green! The views during the drive are unbelievable. Pictures just don't do it justice. We spent most of our time oohing and aahing and talking to sheep. Along the drive there is lots of farm, beautiful old stone walls, and lots of castles- big and small. Today-Thursday- we drove southwest to an area called Cliffs of Mohr where there are picturesque green cliffs along the ocean. Absolutely stunning. Even freezing and windy it was still spectacular. Just driving around this country has been my favorite part so far. Also of note- Irish men also yell and sing when drunk and are actually worse than the Brits. They also refer to "fun" as Craic (pronounced crack) which sounds pretty hilarious when used in a sentence. Tonight we are staying in a town called Dromoland going for dinner and drinks in a castle! Bye for now!

Posted by EuroAsh 10:21 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

More London

Such a lucky bitch I am but I have officially seen my second wonder of the world! Today I went to Stonehenge! It shares the same magical aura as Maccu Picchu (but one less Keria 😿). It was spectacular! Much like Maccu Picchu it has such mystery around who and why and how. Also much like MP it acts as a calendar because during summer and winter solstice the sun shines directly from one rock and through a specific passage way. It also was built in 2000-3000 BC!! Shit is old! It's also a burial ground and has healing powers so that's cool. It was really special. I sat on the grounds for about an hour just taking it in and breathing that fresh mysterious air. After that I ventured to Windsor Castle where the Queen was actually on the premises, we knew this because a special flag flies when she is on grounds! The country is still celebrating her 90th birthday and they had some sort of a jubilee last night with over 900 horses! The castle was crazy! On display was insane China with diamonds in it and her doll house which has working plumbing! Walked around the grounds for a bit, watched the changing of the guards and then headed to the town of Oxford where the famous historical university is. Cute little quaint town with lots of history and gorgeous architectural buildings and more cathedrals. I felt smarter just being there. Then I had a beer at a pub where C.S. Lewis used to frequent.. Then I just felt drunk. Don't worry I took a bus home 😻. Tomorrow Ireland!

Posted by EuroAsh 13:23 Comments (1)

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