I have no clue how to say hello in Dutch but hello none the less. I am back from Amsterdam and I can now cross the Netherlands off my list of countries I want to visit, which is pretty much everywhere. It was a quick 3 hour train ride from Brussels and totally worth the visit. Here are a few of the impressions Amsterdam left on me.

-The city is brilliantly designed. Amsterdam is incredibly systematic in its design with everything being derived from the canals. Both from a simple viewing standpoint and a design standpoint, the layout was aesthetically pleasing. After living in the random and sporadic city of Brussels for the last two weeks it was a nice change of pace to go up and down the streets of a city that made sense. I went on a run Friday in which I just ran to wherever looked interesting. Needless to say I got incredibly lost but because I am somewhat an intelligent individual I used to the canal system to guide me back home. 

-Amsterdam is bicycle capital of the world. I would wager a substantial amount of money that you can get from point A to point B in Amsterdam faster on bicycle than a car. I quickly discovered that bicycles have the right of way in every situation after nearly being run over by the Tour de Amsterdam numerous times. Every normal road is accompanied by a road devoted solely to bikes (and mopeds that don’t like using the road). It is really amazing at how much Europe is not dependent on cars, especially Amsterdam. 

-Vincent Van Gogh is an incredible artist. I went to the Van Gogh Museum on Saturday mainly because it felt like the right thing for a tourist to do, but I walked away with a total new respect for paintings. Sure, I know Starry Night like everyone else but the rest of Van Gogh’s works along with painting artwork in general has never been one of my interests. The museum presented over 200 of his works in chronological fashion which allowed for the viewer to witness the changes in his skill and style. Towards the end of his life you could see how his mental illness was taking over his life by how it manifested itself in his artwork. While viewing the paintings I listened to an audio accompaniment that really, to use the cliche, brought the paintings to life. I was blown away the entire time. 

-Amsterdam’s population demographic is incredibly young. It didn’t dawn on me until near the conclusion of my trip but most people I saw were under 30 and I hardly saw elderly individuals. This could be attributed to the small sample size considering I was only there for 48 hours but I think that statement is more truth that an aberration. What it means hasn’t revealed itself to me yet, but it left an impression on me. 

Story Time!

So around 4 on Friday we went to Rembrandt Square for a museum and on our way we passed a man already drunk who was walking around balancing a pot of flowers on his head. We laughed and were amazed as he stumbled around the square while keeping the pot incredibly still. That night we returned to the square to hangout and, yes you guessed it, saw the same man performing his act. This time he was on his A game as he would get down and do pushups. We watched mesmerized for a little while longer until a random individual came up to him, took the pot off his head, ripped the flowers out, and violently threw them to the ground. The perpetrator set the pot down and promptly ran away. Unfazed the man picked up his pot and continued his act as if nothing happened. Keep on keeping on, Mr. Flower Pot Man. 

-Turkish immigration to Amsterdam is startling. Nearly every corner of Amsterdam has, yes ladies of the night, but also and more importantly a Turkish snack shop. Serving pitas filled with the greasy goodness of leg of lamb, french fries, and mayo they are tasty treats, but the shear amount of these stores along with high a large Turkish population brings to life a topic of my classes. Immigration to the European Union comes up frequently back in classes. It was eyeopening to actually see how large immigration from Turkey is from a first hand perspective. It allows then when we study about this topic in class to seem far more tangible and real.

Another great trip under my belt. Its amazing how much you can see and learn in just 2 weeks.