Updated: Oct 24, 2018
I had every intention of displaying some subpar writing skills for this first-ever blog post, but I'm lowering your expectations a bit further.
If you know me and how neurotic I can be, you know that I've written down details about each day since I was 19. They're not usually emotionally-induced diary entries, but rather quick, short snippets to help me remember each day.
Though longer, these entries from my first solo trip were much the same. Here they are, often crude and poorly written, accompanied by photos. Read at your own discretion.
Monday, 24 September 2018
Woke up early and got ready without rushing. Mom and dad took me to the airport. Not into the United terminal but hey, my ticket was $350. Sat in seat #7 to IAD (not worth the upgrade, I had plenty of time to make the connection). I got a bagel, researched, and read. Watched I, Tonya on the way to Ams- it was great. Attempted to watch Gravity (maybe not on a plane at night?) but ended up falling asleep again. My seatmate scarfed down his food like it was the only thing he’s ever eaten. Drank red wine with dinner and felt so cozy and lucky and so fortunate.
View before landing in Amsterdam / Coincidental message of encouragement
Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Wondered what I’d gotten myself into when I landed and it clicked that I’m figuring everything out on my own. Took bus 397 to Rijksmuseum as planned, stored my luggage, and was off to explore. Walked around, found the pancake place I’d planned to eat at, and got a ham and cheese pancake (though more like a thick crepe). Read while I ate. Went to Van Beek and got a sketchbook. Went to Vondelpark. Walked through Jordaan and checked out the lobby exhibition at Wieden + Kennedy. Checked in at Flying Pig Uptown and ended up meeting a couple of the people staying there. They were both super cool- especially Paige, an Australian traveling the world. After relaxing for a bit, I walked to Tales and Spirits for a drink. The bartenders were super nice and helpful, and I ended up meeting a couple from Atlanta! We chatted for like an hour. I didn’t end up getting dinner because I wasn’t very hungry, but I did grab a waffle on the way back. Immediately showered and went to bed.
Fairytale views in Jordaan
Van Beek ft. Bob Ross / Wieden + Kennedy Lobby: Pride Exhibition / Windows in Jordaan
Brothers in Arms at Tales & Spirits / Stroll before dusk, waffle not pictured.
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
Woke up fairly early and got ready. Yesterday I had only met 3 total people staying in my room, and this morning all 10 beds were full. (Luckily the 4 other people I met today seemed really friendly.) Went to Bakers and Roasters- so good and met some Croatians there! They were friendly. Afterwards I spent hours at Van Gogh. Absolutely loved it and the audio guide was good. Rested for a bit, met more hostel peeps, and went back out to the Rijksmuseum. It was enormous and great. After that I hung out and walked about a lil more than necessary before going to Cafe Loetje. Turns out, my reservation was for the wrong one, but they were fine with it. Had a nice soup and steak and French fries. The amount of mayo they put with it is absurd but anyway. Almost ran into a server on the way out. Yikes. Now I’ve showered and am ready for bed!
Brunch at Bakers and Roasters ft. tiny piece of egg in syrup / iAmsterdam + Rijksmuseum
Van Gogh Museum + a mirror selfie proving my existence
Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1642
Thursday, 27 September 2018
Walked to Jordaan and had a huge breakfast at Greenwoods. Sadly could hardly eat half of it. I sat outside and it was wonderful. Afterwards I walked over to Anne Frank House. It was a touching experience, especially since I’m reading her diary. Honestly got teary-eyed several times. Seeing her actual pen to paper writing preserved, her room where she slept and pasted photos and prints, where she would brush her hair... it was all so surreal. I’m so glad I went. After that I did the tour of the Werterkerk Tower. The view at the top was absolutely magical. I could’ve stayed up there for hours. From there I hopped on a canal cruise. The weather has been so beautiful and the cruise was perfect and informative. Ended up getting off near Rembrantplein and figured I’d just go ahead and visit Rembrandt House. Finally started using the moovit app and hopped on the tram. I ended up messing something up but decided to go to the Artis zoo, which was just okay. Walked far too long from there to the hostel. Later had a successful tram ride to Metropolitan, where I had some yummy gelato!
All the autumn colors / Overestimated hunger in a photo
Postcard from the Anne Frank House gift shop
Westerkerk / Inside the Westerkerk pt. 1 / pt. 2
Magical view from the Westerkerk tower
Sunny view from the Stromma canal cruise / Late night dessert at Metropolitan
Friday, 28 September 2018
Woke up a little later than I’d planned this morning, but it ended up being perfectly fine. Rode to Centraal and grabbed a croissant before hopping on the train to Zaanse Schans- it was super simple to get there. The town smelled like cocoa. Walked around all the windmills, went inside and checked out one that specialized in making chalk/paints. Aside from actually seeing the working windmills, my favorite part of Zaanse Schans was the cheese tasting, where they had lots of cheeses out for sampling in addition to chocolate and stroopwaffles! Once I got back, I walked to Oude Kerk only to find that it was closed :( Ended up going to d&a hummus bistro after that and had the lamb and beef hummus with an aperol spritz- it was delicious! Loved this area! (Note to self that 72 and Sunny is here.) After that I walked to Van Stapele Koekmakerij and had a cookie- they really are SO good. Took the tram over to the Museum quarter and went to the last Ams museum on my list: Stedelijik. There were a few pieces I really enjoyed, and I thought overall everything was interesting, but didn’t enjoy it as much as others I’d been to. (Nothing tops Van Gogh!) Still bought a card and water and sat for a moment before heading off to Albert Cuypmarkt. Walked around and got a huge fresh stroopwaffle: so good, so glad I tried a fresh one! Rode back to the hostel. Chilled there for a good minute before going to an Indian place with the two Australian brothers I met. Hate myself for not remembering their names. I think one of them is named Luke. (As a quick aside: everyone I’ve met at the hostel so far has been wonderful!) We had a wonderful meal at Sherpa before heading up to the red light district. It really was fascinating seeing the red lit windows and people actually speaking and entering/exiting. I didn’t bring my ID like a dunce so we didn’t go to the Bulldog, but we went to a coffeeshop called Greenhouse and it couldn’t have been a safer, more easy experience. The bud tender recommended a joint and it was only 5 euro. On the way back to the hostel, I grabbed a waffle. We sat in the smoking room and I got p high. Thought of Anna Sherrill’s laugh and kept giggling. I think I’m probably annoying when high. When we got back to the room, a girl from Norway and two American guys had joined. Spoke to them for a little while: a feat. Showered. Listened to music. Slept. It was all wonderful.
Picturesque view of the Zaanse Schans windmills, swans and all
Windmills / Pigments / Cheese samples
d&a hummus bistro
Thank you, Dr. Wallace, for teaching me to appreciate Barnett Newman
View from inside the Stedelijk / Fresh stroopwaffle in Albert Cuypmarkt
Dinner with Australian hostel-mates at Sherpa
Red Light District
Saturday, 29 September 2018
Hague today! Once I got into town, stopped into Happy Tosti for breakfast. The space was so cute- swings for chairs, bright, happy. Had a nice lil breakfast with tea. It was so relaxing to sit there and read and eat. Afterwards went to the Mauritshuis, which was amazing. I absolutely loved it, much more than I was expecting to. Headed over to the Peace Palace, where I did the audio tour. Sadly the gardens and actual palace are not open to visitors, but it was nice to see and learn about the history. Before I headed back, ate at Baladi Manouche, which was delicious and cheap! Grabbed ice cream before leaving the city of course!!! After getting back to Ams and chilling for a bit, grabbed Doner at Leemans. So good. Smoked in Vondelpark a bit and went to bed. Fucking accidentally grabbed GLUTEN FREE stroopwaffles. Wtf.
Beautiful, sunny morning in The Hague
Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665
Strolls in The Hague
Looking up in The Hague
Sunday, 30 September 2018
Utrecht! Sketched a commuter. (Obv very quickly.) Another nice breakfast, this time at De Bakkerwinkel. Walked around a lot before climbing the Dom Tower. Sadly the scaffolding blocks a bit of the view (and so it’s not as amazing at Westerkerk in Amsterdam, but it was nice and I certainly got some exercise!! Toured the Domkerk afterwards. From here I was on a quest to find a bike and literally could not to save my fucking life. That’s the only disappointing part of my trip- I wish I’d ridden a bike around the city. Oh well, next time. Got some fries by Centraal before a last ditch effort/walk around. After getting back to Ams, I walked around Jordaan and grabbed a couple magnets and some stroopwaffles. Real ones this time. Again chilled for a while when I got back to the hostel and packed everything, then went out for one last dinner- at La Zoccola, the highest rated pizza place in Ams. Mine was a little runny (I was warned it would be but wasn’t expecting it quite the way it was). Still great though, and good red wine. Had to stop at Metropolitan for gelato again before going back! Smoked and showered and listened to music and went to bed.
Taking people watching to the next (slightly creepy?) level
Canal in Utrecht / There's toast under there somewhere (Sorry, I only have brunch photos.)
Strolling through Utrecht
Dom Tower / Inside the Domkerk
Scaffolded view from the Dom Tower
Continued strolls in Utrecht
Alley views in Utrecht
Monday, 1 October 2018
And just like that my very first solo trip comes to an end. So so happy I did it. Lil kitty came to say goodbye as I packed a few last things in the hallway, and I gave it water. Took bus 397 to Schipol. Power went out for a second and really fucked up the security and baggage process. Thankful I only had a carry on. Watched a ton of movies during the flight. Zootopia, finished Gravity, Tag (terrible), etc. Customs were a breeze, shocker. Got a couple drinks in Dulles- a mimosa and a French martini and DEFINITELY felt em. Grabbed a pretzel from Auntie Anne’s (embarrassingly long walk just to get a damn pretzel), started writing an Ams blog, and sat at the gate. Met two sisters traveling together and chatted with them for hours. Dad picked me up really quickly after I got to ATL. Thankfully that was a super smooth process. Had good chats on the ride home. Was greeted by both kitties. :) Showered and went to bed.
Final night-time stroll in Amsterdam, view from Centraal station
My lil bunk / Cutie hostel kitty saying goodbye
Encouraging all to do something slightly terrifying, whether that's getting up for work tomorrow morning, or traveling completely solo. Here's hoping it's the latter. :-)