Amsterdam, Oh, Amsterdam!


...The land of canals, the crispiest of fries, and bikes....lots and lots of bikes. 

Tiona and I began our backpacking trip in Amsterdam out of sheer convenience; my cousin lives there, so we knew we'd be able to 1. Have the luxury of starting out with a familiar face in the oh-so-unfamiliar continent of Europe, and 2. Get an authentic Amsterdam experience with my cousin and his friends, neighborhoods away from the tourist attractions, touristy restaurants, and a potentially watered down version of Amsterdam. We wanted the real deal. 

Our "real deal" consisted of beers and whiskey colas at the neighborhood bars, some of the best Indonesian food in the city, drinking beer and dancing to Taylor Swift with groups of Dutch 20-somethings, grocery shopping, and having a casual, lazy Sunday dinner that consisted of fried chicken, Mac and cheese and broccoli. (I so needed that little taste of home.) We even stumbled upon other backpackers at the coffeeshop who were from Ohio and LA and were ending their trips in the very city where we were beginning ours. We didn't keep in touch, but it was nice to know that we weren't alone in our journeys. 

Those were our nights. During the days, though, Tiona and I fueled up on the most incredible croissants and became those people who annoy me whenever I make the mistake of walking through Times Square. We slowed our pace to let our GPS catch up to us. We stopped in the street to snap pictures of architecture and canals. We even struggled to identify the bike lane (and even some streets), making ourselves dangerously close to becoming roadkill. 

Loosely following my cousin's suggestions and a "Things You Must Do While in Amsterdam" list, we knocked out visiting the Anne Frank Museum, Rijksmuseum, Iamsterdam sign, having stroopwafles and cafe lattes, and people-watching at Vondelpark. Of course, a coffeeshop or three were thrown into that mix. When in Rome, right? 

In all the wandering, the snapping photos, and marveling at the cityscape, one thing caught my eye time and time again: the people. The Europeans have such a swagger about them, so cool, relaxed, with not a care in the world. It shows in their fashion, the crisp motorcycle jackets paired with muted colors and ankle boots scream that they're the authority on what is chic and suave. It also shows in the way they cruise down busy streets on their bicycles, not missing a beat. "There are more bikes than people," one article read, and believe me: every single one of those people, young and old, have mastered the art of transporting on two wheels. 

I'm so enamored with Amsterdam. I'm in love with the canals that make themselves known by the beautiful floral arrangements that rest atop their bridges. From the minute we stepped foot in this beautiful city, Tiona and I started noticing differences between here and home, including how the parents seem to absolutely love spending time with their kids, and how they can casually enjoy drinks anytime of the day without becoming belligerent (although we've been guilty of it a few times). We also noticed (and appreciated) the standard of beauty. Where we always feel pressured to measure up to a superficial image, full of makeup, extensions, and filters galore, Tiona and I have enjoyed going fresh faced every single day (with the exception of my eyebrow kit, which I never leave home without).

In the midst of our Amsterdam-induced fog, we were quickly reminded that the grass, while it may seem greener on the other side, still browns in the fall, just like your own. Our last night in my cousin's flat, we were greeted by a small group of mice who weren't too pleased that we rained on their parade and crashed their territory. Suddenly, I felt like I was back in New York again. 

All in all, I'm slightly jealous of the people who get to call beautiful Amsterdam "home," but am excited to see the world that lies ahead. Next stop: Berlin!

Peaks 

Janna: The coffeeshops, walking through what felt like the entire city, the effortless fashion, and croissants. Lots and lots of croissants. 
Tiona: Stumbing upon the Lost & Found-turned art in Vondelpark, the ease of navigating such a bustling city, wandering with no set destination (will probably be a peak for the entire trip, to be honest)

Pits

Janna: Last night, we pulled an all-nighter in order to fend off the mice. Felt like NYC all over again! That's city living for ya. Also, due to the drastic weather change (it's full on Autumn here), I developed a horrible cold that's finally starting to subside.
Tiona: Almost being swindled by the one man in Amsterdam that I thought loved me. The statuesque, beautiful, charming blue-eyed waiter at Broodbakker Mensink smiled in my face and then tried to gyp us out of 6 euros! I'm still hurt. The wedding is on hold.

Bikes on bikes on bikes!

Finally made it to Amsterdam!
I tried, but there was seriously no way to make this food look as appetizing as it was. Indonesian!

Cafe Latte = Heaven

For Display Only :(

Rijkmuseum!


And I didn't even get wet. ^_^

Best part of the neighborhood...the kids!

Ordered in food from Suriname. I'm a fan!
One of the only pics we got with our new friends!
Croissant with eggs and feta cheese. More please.
:-) 

Vondelpark, Amsterdam's Largest Park

They turned the Lost & Found into a piece of art <3
<3

Best. Fries. Ever. With ketchup, mayo, and onion.


Canals!

*drools*


One of the peaks of my trip.
**(MAJOR thanks to my cousin Davian for being so gracious to host us during our stay.)

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