Hello family and friends!
Currently writing this blog post from one of my favorite cafes in my neighborhood called Dr. Blend. It’s been really chilly here this week, it was 47 degrees this morning when I was biking to school I thought I was going to freeze!
Despite the bad weather, Amsterdam is still as lovely as a city as ever! This upcoming week marks my halfway mark for my trip, which is both depressing and exciting. I know I’m going to miss Amsterdam so much and traveling every weekend, but I’m also excited to see my family and friends again. My midterms went well (I hope!), I haven’t received my grades back yet but I have a good feeling about how they went. My final exams are only two weeks away now, which is extremely terrifying! My final exams are worth 70% of my overall grade, so you can say that is a lot of pressure. However, I feel that I have been well preparing for them throughout the semester so I’m sure they will be fine.
So you may be wondering, what is my typical day here in Amsterdam? Well, Tuesday-Friday I am in classes all morning, my classes are on three different campuses throughout the city so Im usually biking 10-30 minutes there depending on which campus. I love my bike ride to school because I pass right through city center, which is kind of the “times square” of Amsterdam where all of the tourists flock. It’s a really fun place to bike through everyday! Speaking of bikes, I bought a new bike a few weeks ago! My other bike was a piece of sh*t so I sold it and bought a much better one :). It’s an all black bike with a black basket, but I decked in out with a bike bike lock, hot pink seat cover, and I bought fake pink flowers and attached them to my basket. It’s definitely the cutest bike in town.
Once my classes are over, you can find me sitting in a coffee shop working on my homework (and no, not the coffee shops where you smoke weed!). My favorite coffee places are Bagels & Beans and Coffee Company, both are chains are basically the “Starbucks” of Amsterdam. I like doing my homework in coffee shops instead of the library or at home because in some way, I still feel apart of the city. I get to watch people ride by on their bikes and the boats float down the canals, the views are incredible! I think it’s easy here to get in the routine of going to classes in the morning and then just hide on your computer at home/library for the rest of the day. Even though I’m on my computer working on homework like 4+ hours a day, I at least try to do it with a view! I love finding new coffee shops around Amsterdam to do my work, it’s one thing I will probably miss the most about living in Amsterdam.
Once I’m done studying, I go to the gym which is actually in the basement of the school’s library. It’s super old school and small, but I love going to this gym because it’s never crowded and I’m usually the only one there. So at night its either gym, horseback riding, or planning my trips for the weekend 😉 ! For dinner, I go to the grocery store every night to get the ingredients I need. In Amsterdam, it’s very unusual that someone buys a “weeks worth” of groceries but rather its more of a daily thing to do. Luckily, there are two big grocery store just a five minute bike from my house so I don’t mind going so often. In fact, I really look forward to my daily grocery runs! I’ve been trying to cook a lot at home to save money because going out to eat in Amsterdam is really expensive, I already spend a lot on coffee each week and I know that when I travel on the weekends, I am forced to eat out and spend lots of money on food. So yep, that is my typical day!
Anyways, back to my recent travels 🙂
A week and a half ago, my friends Dory and Alanna joined me on a day trip to Brussels, Belgium. We left on a tour bus there early in the morning, Brussels is only about a 3.5 hour drive away from Amsterdam. The bus was only $20 round trip, so we couldn’t pass up on this opportunity to explore a new culture! I was a bit hesitant about traveling to Brussels after the terrorist attack there on the airport this year, but I’m really glad I put those fears aside and went.
Once we arrived in Brussels, we walked around the main touristy areas. All of the streets smelled like chocolate! Belgium is known for their chocolates, and literally every other store was a speciality chocolate shop. You can say I was in chocolate heaven :). The chocolate I tried there was by far the best chocolate I have had in my entire life, and I’ve had a lot of chocolate! I sampled chocolates until my stomach hurt. The architecture was absolutely stunning. The pictures speak for themselves!
Literally seconds after I took this photo in front of the statue, a storm broke out! While we hid inside a chocolate shop waiting for the storm to pass, we met a guy our age named Vincent who was a Belgium local. He joined us on our site seeing for the rest of the day, which was by far the best part of the trip! He knew so much history about Brussels and the stories behind all of the major tourist attractions, it was basically like having a tour guide for the day. Plus he was super cool to hang out with! He also had a professional camera with him and took really good photos of me and my friends, check them out below.
So overall, Brussels was a success!
This last Friday, Alanna and I went to Dublin, Ireland for the weekend. Our hostel was right near the downtown area called “Temple Bar”. All I have to say about Dublin is that the food was AMAZING. So we didn’t eat any Irish food over the weekend except Irish Coffee, but thanks to Yelp we found the best Mexican, Indian, and Japanese restaurants for dinner. It’s a bit sad to say that was a highlight of the trip, but it was so good that it was worth mentioning.
I honestly do not know how people traveled without the Internet. We found a blog on our first day in Dublin that told us all of the cool places to go to, without it we would have wasted so much time! We checked out Trinity University on the first day, which is a school that has been there since the 1500’s, the campus is so beautiful. After Mexican dinner we searched town for the best Irish Coffee (with Baileys), and succeeded.
One of the suggestions on the blog was to go the rooftop bar at the top of The Marker Hotel, apparently it was the best cocktails and view of the city. The Marker was in the ‘silicon valley’ of Ireland, we passed right by Facebook’s corporate offices! Apparently it was a very hip area for tech startups. Anyways, little did we know that the rooftop at the Market Hotel was the place to be on a Friday night, we had to wait to go up there for like 45 minutes. It was very bougie and exclusive, but worth the wait! The rooftop bar was incredible, the view and the drinks did not disappoint. The prices of the cocktails though, were very disappointing. We went to a really fun bar in the same area that reminded me a ton of West LA, super glamorous!
The next morning, we woke up bright and early to be on our bus tour at 8 AM. We signed up for an all day tour that took us across Ireland to the Cliffs of Moher. We stopped along the way in cute little towns and ended up at the Cliffs in the afternoon. The cliffs were by far the highlight of the trip, the photos do not do it justice for how beautiful it was! The bus ride there was also beautiful, we drove through green rolling hills and saw lots of cows.
We were so tired after the long bus tour, but when we went back to Dublin, Alanna made me try Indian food for the first time. It was amazing, I’m now obsessed with Indian food!!
The next morning, we went to the Guinness beer factory tour. It was cool to see how they make the beer and see the production process. Ok I’m officially getting tired of typing now….
Well, thats all for now! The next adventure starts tomorrow, Alanna and I are going to Nice, France and Monaco. Suppose to be lightning storms in Nice tomorrow so that should be interesting :). I wont be going anywhere the following weekend to study for finals, but I will give an update on France next week!
Miss you all so much, thank you for reading 🙂