Friday, November 23, 2012


Recently, a large group of friends and I went to Amsterdam! Although the city is famous for its legalization of drugs and prostitution among many other morally questionable things, it is a beautiful and awesome city in its own rights, aside from those things.

Before we could be in Amsterdam, we had to take a flight over. Being as it was a super early morning flight, I got some amazing sunrise shots from my window seat on the airplane!

Leaving Rome

Up in rhe Clouds

Over the Swiss Alps (I'm going there next weekend!)
Once we arrived in Amsterdam, we went straight to our hostel: The Bulldog Hostel, a really awesome place that has its own massive bar lounge with a pool table right downstairs as well as every other amenity travelers might want for their stay in Amsterdam. Really great homebase!

They even had a big board of chess, so Alex and Lenny hopped on!

From left to right: Alex, Rachel, Robert, Lenny

Once we checked in, we made our first foray into the city, ending up in Dam Square, where we found this cool building!

The Royal Palace
While walking around, we noticed that the city has some absolutely stunning architecture set alongside all of the canals.

We actually lived on this canal, right down the street from where the photo was taken. In fact, here is a shot of a man feeding the birds from right outside our hostel.

Geese everywhere!
Another rather strange but interesting quirk about Amsterdam was that most restaurants kept a cat around. It was fun to watch them just meander about, walking up to various tables doing whatever they felt like doing, all in the environment of a restaurant. Here is one where we all grabbed lunch.

Kittie cat and Alea
Here's one more thing that Amsterdam is known for: the Heineken Brewery is located in Amsterdam, so the Heineken brew out of a tap is the best Heineken in the world.

Unfortunately, Heineken isn't that great of a beer, so it was still only decent.

Amsterdam also looks spectacular at night! They hang up a bunch of lights all over the city that line the streets. It is gorgeous!

As a result of the legalization of marijuana, Amsterdam offers a wide variety of Coffee Shops where people go to buy marijuana. Here is a shot I got while we were passing one that had a particularly cool design.

Another thing we did quite a bit of, especially at night when we couldn't do any sight seeing was play pool. I got to show off some of the skills I've built up at the pool table at my parents house.

The next few photos basically just sums up the night: we were walking around having fun in our massive group (around 12 people).

Goofy Robert

Almost the whole group
Alex, Lenny, Eric, and Rachel
Now, one particularly strange thing in Amsterdam is something that I had not heard existed until I saw one with my own two eyes: outdoor urinals in the middle of the squares.

Cannot believe these exist
Another great thing about Amsterdam is that the canals are gorgeous at night as well! It's always a great idea to hang out with your legs dangling over the canals.

Here ends Friday!

So to start my Saturday off on the right note, I decided to go on a short run around the area that our hostel was located in and explore a bit. Lucky for me, I found this great little outdoor marketplace, with one of the stands being a wonderful crepe shop. I took my friends here for breakfast!

Mmmmmmmmmm crepes
The rest of the market
Our plan for the morning was to go to the Anne Frank house, but on the way over I snagged a photo that shows off the beauty of the Dutch architecture pretty well.

Dutch architecture
Here's Lenny and I hangin out in front of Anne Frank House, waitin in line.

The Anne Frank House was a really great experience. I got to walk around the various rooms that the Frank family hid in, pass through the trap door into their secret hiding places, and all along the way there were various videos and information placques on the wall. It was very well organized and a great learning experience. I felt very sad, but fulfilled upon leaving the place. Here are a couple photos that I took before finding out that it wasn't permitted.

After the Anne Frank House, our next stop on our journey was to go on a brewery tour! Now, like I said before, the primary brewery tour in Amsterdam is called the Heineken Experience and it is a really big deal. We chose to go to the less brandname brewery, Brouwerij 't IJ. This brewery tour was going to be under 5 euro including a beer, so we were excited to save some money.

As we walked over, I got another great canal shot.

So Brouwerij 't IJ is well-known for the windmill that is located directly next door. Although most people think that it is part of the brewery, it is in fact a separate entity. Many people even just call it the windmill brewery.

Brouwerij 't IJ
Once we showed up, we quickly realized that this place is extremely popular; the place was packed! The 9 of us that wanted to do the brewery tour got up to the front of the bar and asked about it only to be informed that only 8 spots were remaining. We were extremely disappointed!

Fortunately, the brewery decided to let us bring in a 9th person to the brewery tour. While we waited for it to start, we went to hang out by the canals.

Hipster photo?
After waiting for a bit, the tour started, and it was so awesome! They told us the history of the place: it used to be a public shower, before it was common to own showers in your own home, but eventually shut down. When the homebrewing founder of this brewery needed a place to put massive brewing hardware, the closed-down public shower building was perfect because there was plenty of space. From there, they built up their reputation, producing exceptional organical beers at extremely low costs. 
Average price of a beer: 2.50 euro. Admittedly, the beers are small, but that only makes you want to try all of them! 

So after thoroughly enjoying the thorough explanation of the brewing process in combination with the history of the brewery, we all got our free beer (and a few more after that).

I really loved that brewery, and all their beers. I was very impressed, so I even bought a shirt as a souvenir to remember my experience every time I wear it. It's got the same logo as on this menu.

Personal favorites: Natte & Zatte
Later on in the night, my friend Jacob from San Diego and I spotted this sign and had to get a photo by it.

San Diego Restaurant
Finally, we've come to the end of day 2.

Now, on the third day, we got really lucky. The sun came out! It was really nice to get to see the city lit up by the sun, even though it looked pretty cool when it was cloudy too.

This morning, we went to the most amazing breakfast place ever! Pancakes Amsterdam! They serve a wide variety of delectable Dutch pancakes, and I simply couldn't choose. In order to try a wider variety, I ended up splitting 2 different pancakes with Miranda. We got the spinach, oil, goatmilk cheese, pine nuts, and garlic one, and we also got warm cherries with chocolate sauce and ice cream! SOOOOO YUMMMYY!

Here's the savory one. Delicious!
After feasting our brains out at the pancake joint, we decided to rent bikes! A really great thing about Amsterdam is that bikes rule the city. Truthfully, there are bike roads that pedestrians aren't allowed on that dominate the city. In Amsterdam, bikes sort of have the right-of-way even over pedestrians! It makes for one hell of a great place to bike around. The best place in the entire city, however, is the massive Vondelpark, so that's where we went!

This place is just gorgeous, and so much fun to ride around and take in the natural beauty.

It was really fun to ride in circles around the uneven pavement

Best bike riding adventure ever! I've rented bikes in other cities and really enjoyed myself, but this is truly the best city on the planet for bike-riding.

We even went to the IAMSTERDAM sign.

Rijksmuseum behind the sign

Behind the sign is a Dutch history museum, Rijksmuseum. We didn't go inside, so that's all I know about it.

At the sign, everyone climbed on the letter that their name starts with to take a photo on, but Jacob and I were thoroughly disappointed that there was no j, so we figured a t is sort of like a backwards j and took a couple of photos on top of that instead.

There is one letter that no one climbs on because it is too difficult: the I. My friend Robert accepted the challenge and succeeded and making his way to the top of the letter, even doing a couple of goofy poses up there.

Celebrating his success
After the IAMSTERDAM sign, we were pretty pooped, so we spent our last few hours relaxing at our hostel's lounge and playing some pool while we waited for our flight home.

This weekend was a totally different style of trip. We had a large group, making for some really fun goofing off, and we got to see and do a lot of different things in Amsterdam, including stuff I didn't know was even an option. All in all, I had a blast!


  1. I haven't heard of Jacob. Is he really from San Diego? Where does he go to school?

  2. Jacob is originally from Northern California, but has gone to SDSU the past 4 years. This is his last semester, studying abroad, and he graduates after, but has an internship waiting for him in Downtown San Diego when he returns. He's one of my better friends from out here right now.