Next stop on the crazy week of Spring Break was Amsterdam. The bus got into the city at about 6:30 pm. We all were very tired from a very long bus ride. At our hostel, we were lucky enough to get fed both breakfast and dinner for free. Side note about our hostel: at breakfast they had PEANUT BUTTER. Literally the best part of this trip was I took about 25 packets of peanut butter. After settling in we had dinner in the cafeteria, then Andrea and I were lead by one of our guides, Bruno to the center of the city.
Now, before I continue, there is a need for a description of Bruno. Bruno is a 70 year old man, who is known as “The Godfather of Florence” because he literally knows everyone. I’ve also heard people call him Father Bruno. He has a special named after him at La Spada, a popular restaurant in Florence. Basically, he is an Italian version of my dad 15 years down the line.
So we hopped on the train with Bruno and some other people from our program and headed into the center of the city. Andrea and I didn’t really know where we wanted to go, but the others had their heart set on going to the Red Light District, so we tagged along. Once we got there, the other group booked it for the first coffee shop they could find, so it was just me, Andrea, and Bruno walking the streets of the Red Light District.
I honestly thought it was going to be a lot sketchier than it was. I mean obviously there were girls in their underwear behind glass doors trying to get you to come over, but if you didn’t look at the windows it was actually like any other street in the city. I expected it to look like a creepy alley way in New York City, but it literally looked like a main drag. There were also a lot more canals and bridges than I expected. It was actually quite pretty. But besides all of the beauty, we were in the Red Light District. Bruno of course having no fear kept asking as we walked by the windows “How about this one girls? She’s nice.” as the girls in the window would tap at him and he’s laugh and keep walking. It was probably the funniest and most awkward situation of my life. He also took us to this really pretty church that was on the edge of the district, but if you turn around there is a wall of girls right across the street from the church. It was really ironic and sacrilegious. Only in Amsterdam right? Even more awkward: I found out the next day that he isn’t just called “Father Bruno”, he literally is a priest. So I walked around the Red Light District of Amsterdam with a priest; Bucket List - Check.
The next day we had a walking tour of the city. We went to the “I AMSTERDAM” sculpture (famous for pictures), the Van Gogh Museum, the Heineken Experience, and Anne Frank’s house. The Van Gogh Museum was really amazing. It was so incredible to see all of these famous paintings up close and personal. Bruno is an artist himself so he knows a lot about Van Gogh and was giving us all the side stories about his life and how he died. It was always said that Van Gogh shot himself and he died two days later. But now there is evidence to suggest that he was interested in a young boy and the young boy was actually the one who shot him. It obviously isn’t proven yet, but its something to think about.
Then we went to my favorite part of Amsterdam: The Heineken Experience. It was almost identical to the Guinness Brewery in Ireland, but so much better. I am a bigger Heineken fan than Guinness but that has nothing to do with it. Guinness was a lot of wondering and reading. Heineken was very interactive. Obviously the historical part of it was all reading, but then we arrived at a live person who explains the four ingredients and how they are combined to make the beer. They also have a 4-D experience where they show you a detailed step by step process of how they make it. The next stop on the tour was a tasting station. The pour you a glass and tell you all about the different parts of the beer that make it what it is. The foam cap on the beer is there to keep air from getting to the beer while you drink. When air gets to it, it automatically starts the evaporation of the alcohol making it taste different, so it keeps it fresher longer. A bartender also is supposed to “cut” the top of the foam with a wet metal knife in order to preserve the top of the foam cap for longer. Something you may not want to know: If when your glass is empty there is no foam clinging to the edges of the glass, the glass wasn’t completely clean when they poured the beer in. They also showed you all the different marketing strategies they used and are now using. They now make a can they are selling to clubs so when it is under the black light there are cool designs that show up. After the tour, there is a free boat ride that takes you to their flagship store 15 minutes away where we got a free gift. I also got my dad a present here, which I’m really excited to give him, but I can’t tell what it is yet because he reads this or he should be at least ;)
After that we walked to the Anne Frank house and saw the outside. I personally didn’t go inside, but a lot of people said it was really interesting. I was exhausted from the day and spent the night in while mostly everyone else hit up the coffee bars for our last night. The next day we were headed to our next stop: Brussels.