For my last trip of the semester I made it over to Amsterdam for four days and five nights with a group of 7 other Holy Cross students. It was a great change of pace to spend so much time in just one city. For all my other trips, it was fun to be constantly on the move, seeing so much in so little time, but it was even better to not feel rushed to explore Amsterdam. This way, I got a better feel for the vibe or essence of the city by just wandering the streets and exploring without an agenda. Amsterdam reminded me a bit of San Francisco—a laid-back city filled with friendly and helpful locals—which is maybe why I felt so comfortable there. In fact, of all the cities I have ever visited in Europe, I think Amsterdam is the one I can most see myself living in.
Here are a few highlights from the trip:
-Anne Frank Huis: my first order of business in Amsterdam was to go to the Anne Frank Huis (Anne Frank House). I have always had a fascination with World War II history, especially the Holocaust and so to be able to visit the annex where the Frank family famously hid during the war was a dream come true. I not only walked behind the bookcase and up the narrow, steep, hidden staircase, but I also saw Anne Frank’s actual diary.
-Cheese samples: The Netherlands most famous cheese is Gouda, but in the shops along Amsterdam’s many canals, you can sample all types of sheep, cow, or goat cheese. While touring the tulip market, I stopped in a few of the nearby cheese shops and the employees would not stop encouraging me to try more samples. Never one to say no to free cheese, I happily indulged them. There were slices of cheese and gourmet mustards, which were all so delicious that I never actually bought cheese or mustard to bring back with me because I couldn’t decide which one I liked most.
-Canal boat tour: Amsterdam is known as the “Venice of the North” because of all its canals, so what better way to explore the city than on a boat tour? We took a one-hour guided boat tour and it was wonderful to sit in the open-air boat, soaking up the sun, and exploring Amsterdam from a new perspective.
-Heineken factory: Although I can’t drink beer because of a gluten allergy, I enjoyed “The Heineken Experience” and learning about the brewing process of Europe’s largest brewery.
-Bike riding: No Amsterdam experience would be complete without a bike ride. In Amsterdam bikes are the major mode of transportation, so in order to feel like locals we rented bikes and rode around the city for a few hours. We stopped by the zoo, a planetarium, and a nearby park to rest and snack.
I ended a fabulous trip with great news from Holy Cross that my roommates for next year and I landed an apartment in Williams Hall, our first choice for senior year housing! I’m not ready to say goodbye to Dublin just yet, but I am starting to get excited for my summer internship in New York and fall semester back on The Hill. But before then, I still have a list of must-do items for Dublin, plus one more final to take. Only 10 more days!
Katie Riley '14