Observing Europe – Part III (Amsterdam)

March 11, 2012 § 5 Comments

Going to Amsterdam was a spontaneous decision. The Netherlands wasn’t part of my (poorly planned) Europe itinerary and now that I think back on it, I’m not sure why.

It was a freezing cold Saturday and my dad was  already in hibernation mode and firmly entrenched on the sofa. I could barely see his face as he was submerged under a rather impressive  mound of blankets.  Trying to coax him to get out of his nest and to drive us 2+ hours to Amsterdam was like trying to separate a fat kid from his half-eaten chocolate cake. Fortunately for me, I mastered the puppy eyes as a young child and my mom perfected the “she’s-only-here-for-two-weeks” speech. Between the two of us, we managed to guilt trip my dad to abandon his blanket cocoon and into the driver’s seat.

the beautiful canals

During the drive up, my eyes eagerly embraced the lush green pastures, a variety of farm animals, and quaint countryside. Once we left the border of Belgium, windmills began to slowly emerge into the view. The numerous pictures and travel shows I’ve seen all my life slowly developed into something real and tangible, as those same images began to unfold in front of my eyes. It was exhilarating.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Amsterdam. Friends who have visited before, bring back stories of getting high, tripping out on shrooms and watching tons of (unforgettable) sex shows. I have a great relationship with my parents, but I have no desire to watch any sex shows or do any form of drugs with my parents. It’s bad enough when nudity comes up when you watch a movie with your parents, I can’t imagine how awkward it would be to watch a sex show in Amsterdam. No doubt it was going to be a rated PG trip.

One of my marketing projects during college was to write a marketing business plan. My group somehow decided that we wanted to sell bicycles in the Netherlands since apparently everyone owned a bike. Turns out we picked a severely competitive and mature market to try and enter (hence the low marks) but I was attracted by the idea of a bike-friendly environment. I never lived in a city where bikes were the primary form of transportation, so I was pretty intrigued to see how the city would look.

i have never seen so many people on bicycles in my life

Tempted to buy a bike myself!

i love how bike-friendly this city is!

I flipped rapidly through some online travel tips and guide books 10 mins before we left. I secretly aspire to be a real organized adult, one that plans out their trips in advance, so they never miss anything. I almost never plan in advance and have a terrible sense of direction on top of the laziness, so I end up wandering around with no end destination. Yet, sometimes it’s nice to just walk at a leisurely pace, and not being binded by a check list.

Stephen Hawking - Does anyone know what it says?

The one place I knew I didn’t want to miss was the Van Gogh museum. I love Van Gogh’s works; the bright colors and the unique bold strokes he uses. No one can recreate his style. His paintings evoke deep emotions and touch his audience in extraordinary ways.

Entrance of the Van Gogh Museum. The tickets were quite pricey, about 14 euros but worth going at least once 🙂

I love asking locals for advice on where to eat and places to go. They can immediately point out or draw directions, and usually the places they recommend are less touristy and more awesome. We stopped by a really great deli (forgot to take a picture 😦 ) that had sandwiches to die for and really friendly staff. Most people recommended going to Rijksmuseum museum if we were only in town for a day. Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum, with paintings, sculptures and an assortment of arts from all around the country and through the ages. I think I learned more about the Dutch history in that afternoon than I would have if I took a semester’s worth of history class.


I also loved the canals that are woven into the city. The water seems to add a sense of steadiness to the city while the people move around it.


I hope I get more time to walk (or bike) around the city the next time I visit 🙂

(Perhaps to pay a visit to the Red Light District and to one of those famous cafes)


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§ 5 Responses to Observing Europe – Part III (Amsterdam)

  • I love that you’re spontaneously travelling. I would like to adopt this way of travelling on the next trip I take. I have one of those planning personalities, but I think it would be good for me to stop and take a leisurely pace as you are doing.

  • Dan says:

    Ahhhh nothing like bike culture in Amsterdam 😀

  • Chelsea says:

    Shame on you for not consulting me before going to The Netherlands! Wu, when was the last time we even had a conversation?!

    Your pictures make me want to cry. I’m trying to convince Thomas that we should go back “just for a visit” when my real plan is to get him there, watch him fall in love, and then buy a house in Leiden.

    I miss The Netherlands so much 😦 I’m so glad you went!

  • katsasleep says:

    Amsterdam is marvellous! I have been a few times since my sister in law lives nearby! If you end up there again, or in any of the smaller canal ridden towns and cities, rent a boat and explore the waterways! too much fun, as you picnic and try to dodge house boats at the same time!

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