By Troy Stiles, ISA Marketing Communications Manager
My week traveling around Ireland was more incredible than I had expected, so I wasn’t too excited to have to leave, but Amsterdam was calling, so I needed to go. I was excited to check out the city and one of ISA’s new program locations.
Through my travels I’ve had a few brushes with Netherlands. While wandering around few European cities, I’ve been mistaken for being Dutch. I’m tall, have light-ish hair, and like to ride bikes, so I’d definitely fit right in. But it wasn’t until a few years ago, that I discovered I’ve actually got some Dutch blood in my veins. With all the stereotypical characteristics, I was excited to blend in with the locals.
First task – exiting the airport.
This isn’t usually a hard thing. I planned to catch a train to the Central Station and then a short ferry to my hostel, but for some reason, my credit card wasn’t being accepted at the train ticketing machine. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I had let my bank know I was traveling abroad. I had enough money in my account. Had someone stolen my information? Had my bank put a lock on my account because I’d been moving around so much?
I tried calling my bank, but couldn’t get through. Luckily, I remembered that I had some cash. (Side note: I prefer using cards when I travel, but I still always try to carry a little cash for situations like this.) It was just the right amount, so I bought my ticket and was on my way.
It was dark and rainy by the time I got checked into my hostel for the night, but I wanted to get out and get sense of the city for a little bit, so I headed out.
I was staying in the Noord/Overhoeks area of the city, just across the channel from the Amsterdam Centraal train station. I was a little nervous about access to the main part of the city at first, but there is a ferry running continuously throughout the day (every 3 minutes during most of the day), so it was so easy to get back and forth.
One of the first things that I noticed…. I needed to get a bike. Bikes are everywhere! People riding bikes. People pushing bikes. People parking bikes. There are so many bikes that I bet there are more bikes than people in the city. It’s ridiculous (in a good way)!
I spent some time wandering the streets and alleys around the train station area before grabbing some food and heading to bed.
My first impression? A beautiful and historic yet modern and progressive city.
The next morning I woke up and wanted to check out where ISA students would be studying, so I hopped the ferry to the Centraal station and went to talk to a ticket agent. They were really helpful and told me what trams to catch and where to get off. Unfortunately, I immediately forgot and just asked one of the tram drivers. A quick ~30ish minute ride later and I was dropped off on the footstep of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). It wasn’t a huge campus and it was a weekend, so walking around was easy.
After a little while, I headed out. I wanted to visit the Museum District. Museums here are home to works from Van Gogh and Rembrandt to name a few. While these would have been very interesting, I decided to visit the Banksy/Dali exhibit at the Moco Museum. It was excellent.
From there I spent the remainder of the afternoon getting lost and exploring the city’s shops and canals. I tried and tried, but couldn’t find a bad coffee shop.
After another long day, I had to get some rest. I was off to Prague in the morning.
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