Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam marked our 100th day of travel, our first time having friends from back home join us, and our last day of traveling together. It’s only fitting that such an occasion was filled with good food, good beer, and incredible weather — it was 85 degrees today! Amsterdam is a very picturesque city as thousands of bikers weave among the numerous canals. Biking is definitely the most popular form of transportation, and for good reason. The bike lanes are just as extensive, if not more so, than the streets. Bikers have their own little “streets” complete with stop lights, pedestrian crosswalks, and the works. Of course, Amsterdam is also brimming with free spirit, and we all enjoyed taking part in this laid back culture as well.

Matt and I flew in Sunday night, so the first thing we did in Amsterdam was go back to the airport to surprise our friends, Hartman and Alex, when they got off their flight from Chicago. We made signs with their names on them and stood by the arrival gate with all of the limo and taxi drivers. Matt took a picture of me with our signs and sent it to the Rank, including Hartman! We thought our surprise was ruined, but Hartman didn’t open the picture until after they saw us so their was still plenty of excitement. After getting everything situated, we went to the city center and grabbed lunch at a cafe. We walked along the canals for a while, and then when we were sick of that, we found a little bar and enjoyed some Dutch beer. From here we went to the Van Gogh Museum and spent some time admiring his characteristic style and reading about his life. By the end of all this, we split ways so Hartman and Alex could go to bed, as they were well past the 24 hour mark at this point. Matt and I ended the evening by going to a rib joint and each ordering a full order. Turns out, a full order in Amsterdam is TWO full racks of ribs! While they were delicious, I had to bring quite a bit home with me.

The next day we decided to meet at the Anne Frank House. Matt and I were running late due to some last minute laundry that needed to be done before we split the next day, so we ended up going in separately. Being in the space that the Franks and others hid for two years was unsettling to say the lesst. The magazine photos Anne glued to her wall are still there. For me, the most unique part was learning about how Anne’s dad, Otto, reacted to reading Anne’s diary. At first, he was hesitant to read it. When he did, he realized he had had no idea what was going on inside his daughter’s head, even though they were very close. It became his mission to make Anne’s wish of being a famous writer a reality, working tirelessly to get her diary published. While initially faced with multiple rejections, Anne’s diary is now one of the most well-read books in the entire world.

After the Anne Frank House, we spent a lot of time wondering. We walked along the canals to the world’s largest floating market, which looked like any other market except the shops were shacks floating along the bank. We also went to the main square and palace, as well as for a boat ride across the harbor to North Amsterdam. We ended our wondering at a little park and watched the dogs for a while before heading to dinner. A bottle of wine, 2 beers, 4 pizzas, and 1 cesar salad later, we were all well fed and decided to walk around some more. Amsterdam really is a beautiful city to just wonder around.

Back at the apartment, Matt and I started dividing and packing. When you have been traveling together as long as we have, all of the bags are somewhat communal. Now that we are both going different places, we needed to get everything sorted out and make sure we both had everything we would needed. Then it was off to bed so Matt could catch his morning flight. This morning, we said our goodbyes, and I became a solo traveler. I spent the day going to strange places in Amsterdam, like the world’s narrowest house (only 3ft 3in wide), and walking around a large park. With it being such a beautiful day, there were plenty of people biking around the park, sunbathing on the grass, and children playing on the playgrounds. I read my book, watched the people, and tried to stay in the shade (as Matt took all the sunscreen to Israel). I made it to the airport without incident, so I consider my first solo day a success!

Number 7 is the world’s narrowest house

I am now about to land in Munich, Germany. I’m not really sure what to expect for these next two weeks, but whatever happens, it is going to be a whirlwind. Only 13 days until I am back in Algoma, but still 5 cities to visit, including meeting up with my old roommates in NYC! Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me to the bitter end!

Peace, Love, and XXX,

Kelsey

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