Thursday April 3rd – I was on a morning train from Brussels to Amsterdam. Train rides are always something I look forward to because I can be alone in my own mind. My trance of watching trees zip past my window was broken when the song “Little Hell” by City and Colour, started playing in my headphones. I used to listen to City and Colour all the time in my college dark room while I developed my film and prints. That was Junior year. I can’t believe that was already a year ago. Now whenever I hear their music, it makes me think about how things were then. I started thinking about how a broken heart can really change someone. I think it can completely alter who someone is. In the end you have to decide what you want to do: become calloused or try to heal. For a while it feels better to ignore the two options and simply drown in your own pain. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just nice to have some self-pity. To know that someone knows what you’re going through and agrees that it’s terrible, even if it’s only you and God. It’s numbing, and the numbing is a nice feeling. It suspends time in a way. You can run. Pretend it’s not real. But at some point, you come-to and have to accept reality, and from that point on you are always different. Always. That’s what my senior show in college was about. (I was glad I found a concept that actually meant a lot to me and wasn’t a load of bull-crap made up to fit some literal representation in an arranged photo like I’d seen in years past). I still think about it. Once we are exposed to something, we can’t ever go back to not knowing it. I pretend like I’ve discovered some profound thing, but the idea is laid out even when you look at the story of Adam and Eve. Once they understood they were naked, they could never stop trying to hide. Once we realize that our heart can be broken, we guard it a whole lot more. I guess that’s why people always say “don’t grow up too fast.” Once you get through a situation, you’ll always be a little broken or a bruised, but luckily we have a Father who is there to help bandage us to keep the scaring to a minimum.
We got to Amsterdam around 6pm and photographer Laura Kok met us at the station to escort us to our hostel. After dropping off our gear at the hostel, we took off to see a bit of the city.
Stopped at the must-see tourist attraction.
Laura took us around the main canals and shopping area, so we could get a grasp of the layout of Amsterdam, but also learn to not be hit by the bikes. And the trams. And the small golf-cart cars that drive in the bike lanes. And the actual cars that drive in the street. SO MANY THINGS TO POSSIBLY GET HIT BY. Laura had to leave after we walked through the town to the central station. I was sad to only see her for a few hours but it was so nice to get to meet!
Michael and I headed back to our City Hub hostel for the night. We each had a room that looked like a futuristic spaceship. The lights could change colors and my iPhone plugged into the wall so that music played all around. I couldn’t believe we got to stay somewhere so cool for so cheap! Definitely a unique experience.
We passed out after planning our route for the morning. We were out to see everything possible tomorrow!
Friday April 4th – We started off the day wandering through the canals and leisurely wandered to a few destinations.
I’m obsessed with the canals.
Get ready. For those of you who love plants and coffee and wood and everything cute in life. THIS IS THE BEST COFFEE SHOP. Oh. Also. DO NOT say coffee shop in Amsterdam if you want coffee. Say cafe. I just say coffee shop out of habit, but in Amsterdam a coffee shop is a place where you go to buy and smoke weed. That’s not a joke. Luckily a local corrected me before I found myself in an awkward situation. haha. But literally this cafe gave me the best Hazelnut Latte I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of them. It’s called CottonCake and is located in southeast Amsterdam.
If you’re in the area. GO HERE. Michael rolled his eyes when I said I wanted to go to the edge of town just for this cafe. But it was so worth it. I loved it.
Just around the corner of the coffee shop was a ton of adorable thrifty markets. I much prefer these to all the major touristy shops.
I picked up this awesome blanket from a lovely Indonesian woman with a stand in the market.
A lot of shops in Amsterdam were multifaceted. This place was a cafe on top, and a barbershop/ clothing store on the bottom.
This is a tiny car. We were told that they’re mainly driven by the kids that are 16 and really want to drive. For some reason they’re allowed to drive these at 16, but for all other cars you have to be 18 to drive. These cars also apparently can drive on the bike roads. We almost got hit by one.
Andddddd Amsterdam has Cannabis flavored everything. We even saw a place that had ice-cream.
There are tons of tiny apartments because apparently the dutch used to be taxes for how wide their flats were. So they did the only logical thing to do, and built up instead of out.
Tulips everywhere! Flowers everywhere. The floating flower market was full.
A moving bar. The guys were all guzzling drinks while pedaling. Don’t worry though, the driver was not drinking. Just the powerhouses for the driver were drinking.
This may look like lens distortion, but it’s not. TONS of the buildings in Amsterdam are crooked. I’m not sure how structurally sound they all are, but I guess they have to be okay since there’s so many and people are living in them.
This is Tuelshi. He was passing out bird seed for everyone to feed pigeons with him. He’d whistle to the pigeons and they’d come flying up to him. He was at the main square in Amsterdam where the queen of Sweden was inside a governmental building for some sort of meeting. Tuelshi kept repeating “make peace not war.” I asked him why he feeds the birds, and he said because he saw his father shoot his brother when he was a child and the birds had given him peace, so he liked to feed them to repay them for their kindness.
Tuelshi gave me some birdseed so I could frolic with the pigeons for a bit. And on the right is a photo of the waffles that Laura bought for me to try. They’re really thin and have melty carmel inside. They’re only 1 euro for like 8 of them! They’re so sweet though you can only have one every few days.
We ended the night at the Red Light District. It had a very sad feeling over it. I hated that. There are windows all over the buildings and there are red lights illuminating the girls standing inside. Women were making provocative gestures and men walking by and selecting whom they wanted like a piece of meat from the grocery store. How very different Amsterdam became with the turn of one corner. It had been so charming to me (minus the occasional smell of weed), it had even been one of my favorite places so far, but once I saw this, my heart broke. It is so bizarre to me how opposite Amsterdam could seem, depending on the area you were in. Next up is Berlin.
CURRENT UPDATE : I am in Austria at this moment, and the next blog post will consist of Berlin, Beelitz, and Munich from Germany and Prague from Czech Republic.