European Vacation (Part 1)

Friday, March 15, 2013

AG and I recently went on an amazing trip to The Netherlands and Belgium.  In college, I spent a semester on a study abroad program in Brussels, Belgium and have wanted to show AG around for the longest time.  We finally got the opportunity and also added Amsterdam to our trip.  I love traveling, and I try my best to squeeze as much activity into my trips as possible.  Over the next few days I'll tell you all about some of the highlights.

Day 1

Inntel Room
We had an 11pm flight to Amsterdam which allowed us get some sleep on the plane and arrive late enough in the day that we just had to stay up for the first day to quickly get over the Jet lag.  We were luckily able to check into our hotel The Inntel, which was perfect for our stay.  It was very centrally located and although the room was small, the beds were very comfy and quiet.

On the canal tour
After finding a cafe for some coffee and food we bought a 48-hr pass (Iamsterdam Card) which includes free admission to 50 attractions and discounts to about 50 others as well as a 2-day transportation card.  Our first stop was the included canal tour.  I always like taking a boat or bus tour when I get to a city to get familiar with it (even if I've been before).

We spent the rest of the day walking around the city visiting the Dam Square and Red Light district before having some Thai food for dinner and calling it an early night.

Day 2
Portuguese Synagogue
Our second day we visited a ton of places!  First was the Hermitage where the temporary Van Gogh exhibit is while the Van Gogh museum is under renovation.  It was a very well done exhibit which focused on all his self-teachings and studies which developed into his famous art work.

Next we moved on to the Jewish Historical Museum which is housed in a series of interconnected buildings which were four former synagogues and told the story of Jews in Amsterdam.   Then we went onto the Portuguese Synagogue which manage to avoid destruction during WWII and is still in use today.

After a delicious lunch at a cafe, we moved on to the Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Garden), which had nice greenhouses and was pretty because it was snowing, but I wouldn't recommend visiting in winter if you don't have the iAmsterdam card (free admission).   Then, to end our afternoon we went to Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The Ship Museum), which has a cool 350+ year old ship that you can tour as well as some temporary and permanent exhibits on the Holland ship industry and even a fun simulator ride.

Butterfly exhibit at Hortus Botanicus
Xtra Cold Ice Bar
Our last attraction of the day was Xtra Cold Ice Bar.  This place was cool in only one sense of the word...that it was cold.  They basically bring you into a walk-in freezer, give you two Heinekens and show you a 4-D movie (coldness is the 4th dimension); which, is probably only mildly entertaining even if you are on lots of drugs. This is the definition of a tourist traip, if they had one of these in New York, I'd laugh at tourists who go there and that's probably what the locals did to me.

At least for dinner we had one of the best meals of the trip at a restaurant called Dubbel.

Shariously stay tuned for Part 2!


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