Amsterdam, Netherlands

In June, 2010 I spent three days with friends exploring Amsterdam.  Initially I was overwhelmed by the amount of people, buildings, and industry all residing within such a small landmass.  Likewise, the first cultural hurdle to overcome was navigating through dedicated lanes of bicycles, cars, trains, and pedestrians interwoven among canals as busy as the streets themselves.  After the dizzying walk from the central train station to our hostel, it was made clear to us that we arrived on the day of the World Cup match between Holland and Denmark, that our hostel was actually a pub with an extra room for guests, and that we would simply not be accommodated until the end of the game.  I am certainly not complaining about having to kill time in Amsterdam, but at €2+ for a cup of coffee, this proved to be a lot more expensive than I had budgeted.  In our wanderings through the city (and vein attempts to be served in restaurants), we observed a clear rift between the Dutch natives and the tourist-supported industries.  Yet, regardless of our outsider status, we managed to enjoy ourselves and the perfect weather lounging in Vondelpark and the Museumplein, browsing the classics in the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, watching the monkeys in the zoo, and having a history lesson in the Anne Frank House.  Overall, I truly enjoyed the polished atmosphere of a beautiful northern European city, however, I would not soon return to pay exorbitant rates just to be treated like a tourist.

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