A few weeks ago my university shut down for Excursion Week. Most students take this week as a chance to travel to different cities across Europe. There are also professors who organize educational excursions to different cities to visit different companies. I chose to use this time to do some studying and take a short trip to Amsterdam.
The journey began late Tuesday night. The original plan was to take a train from Braunschweig to Hannover, and then another train from Hannover to Bremen. The total trip would have been 3 hours, and I would have arrived in Bremen with an hour to spare until my bus arrived. However, it wouldn’t be an adventure with me if everything went according to plan.
When we arrived in Hannover, it was announced that all trains to were canceled due to an issue on the tracks. After about ten minutes of intense panic and aimless wandering through the station, I found an information desk and explained my dilemma. After waiting for a few minutes in a corner with the group of other people who desperately needed to get to Bremen as well, a taxi driver came and told us to follow him to his van. I spent a lot of money on my bus ticket from Bremen to Amsterdam, so I let go and let God.
It was about 1.5 h to the train station, but it took us a little longer because the other passengers kept making requests to be dropped off at their homes, instead of at the train station they would’ve arrived at on the train. Luckily, my bus was delayed for 35 minutes, so I wasn’t as pressed for time as I thought. Unfortunately, when we finally arrived at the station, I had to wait for 30 minutes outside in the cold for the bus.
The bus ride to Amsterdam was about 5.5 hours, and I slept through most of it. We arrived at about 8:00AM and walked around the city for a bit before our free walking tour (Sandeman’s New Europe Tours). Our tour guide was very entertaining and informative, and if you’re ever in the city, I highly recommend taking one of these free guided tours. Others recommend bike tours, as you can see more of the city faster, however I am not a bike person.
The main thing I wanted to do in Amsterdam was take a picture in front of the I AMSTERDAM letters by the Rijksmuseum. It was packed with people climbing all over the letters, trying to get a picture. The letter “d” was one of the harder ones to get a picture with, and you have to be a little assertive (i.e jump in front of the letter as soon as you see it empty and leave no room for anyone else to ruin the shot). I went to the Red Light District, where you can find a church and also minimally-clothed women sitting in windows on the same street. I went to the Eye Film Institute, but it was closed when I got there, so I walked back.
The return trip from Amsterdam to Germany was another adventure. Our bus was stopped by the border patrol officers in Germany for what seemed like forever. When we finally got to Bremen at almost 1AM, we had to wait until 4:45 for the next train to Braunschweig. The train station was mostly empty, with the exception of a few homeless people and one Dutch girl from our bus, who also had a three hour wait. My travel buddy was very uncomfortable with sitting in the waiting area with the homeless people, so we found some seating outside of a Burger King in the station and waited there. Luckily, our new Dutch friend kept us company and the time *almost* flew by. By the time our bus came, the sun was rising. When we got back to Braunschweig, we both ran to our respective trams/buses and never looked back. I went into hibernation for the rest of the week.
All in all, Amsterdam was pretty nice. It felt and looked just like a few other cities I’ve been to before, so that was a bit underwhelming. There were definitely good shopping options and cool museum, and I think if I had had more time in the city, I might have enjoyed it a bit more.
Tot de volgende keer,
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