This weekend, I traveled to Amsterdam; a city truly like no other. Similar to the way in which nothing could have prepared me for the beauty that I experienced in my travels to Paris, Florence, and Interlaken, nothing could have prepared me for the sites, scenes, and people that I experienced in Amsterdam.
Prior to arriving in Amsterdam, I knew that it would be a unique and interesting city. Friends who have traveled here in the past raved about art and history museums, explained that coffee shop doesn’t always mean a Starbucks equivalent, and warned me about the sad, zoo-like nature of the Red Light District. However, nothing that I heard before coming to Amsterdam could have fully prepared me for the city I was about to experience.
My flight to Amsterdam was three hours delayed, so by the time I got there it wasn’t 7 p.m. as I had planned, but 10 p.m. While walking through the narrow streets to my hostel, the first thing I noticed was the abundance of food choices. The streets were lined with shop after shop of any and every food you could ever want – Italian, Mexican, American, Chinese, Greek, Indian; the list goes on. Not to mention the desserts. As someone with a bigger sweet tooth than Cookie Monster, I gazed in amazement at the vendors selling cookies, cakes, waffles, and gelato (all which you could get covered in Nutella).
Once I got over the initial shock of the food choices that surrounded me on my walk to The Bulldog Hotel, something else grabbed my attention. Everyone that I walked by seemed to have a funny look in their eyes. To clarify: not everyone had the same look in their eyes, but almost everyone had a look in their eyes. Some people looked as if they were just completely not “there,” with their eyes looking every which way, back and forth, without any apparent rhyme or reason. Other people had a very familiar, smug and relaxed, look in their eyes. I would imagine that these people were minutes away from entering one of the many eating establishments on the street, if they hadn’t already. The last look that I noticed was different than the first two. Only men had this look on their face. These men looked at people passing by with such intensity and searching; it almost felt as if they were looking through me as I pushed past them. What these men were looking for I could only imagine, but they made me appreciate the other two types of looks I had encountered on my walk.
By the time I had gotten to my hostel, I was exhausted from my long day of delays, trains, and buses, so I had a bottle of chocolate milk and called it a night. Just kidding. I did have a glass of chocolate milk, but the night had just begun. Read on to my next post, “Mobile Journalism and Amsterdam” to hear more!