My Week in the Netherlands: Part II
Quaint buildings in Amsterdam
I'm back, y'all! Today, I'm sharing Part Two of my trip to Amsterdam this past July (*cough* it's nearly October *cough*) while visiting my sister during her internship abroad. If you haven't already read about my first part of the trip, check it out here! Like I said last time, feel free to comment below or reach out via social media for any more tips on where I went/what I did!
My sister and I returned back to her flat in Utrecht the night before, after a long day of wandering around Maastricht. That night, I got to meet her two roommates Isabelle (Ballsy) and Merel (Blackbird) briefly, who are students at Utrecht University and had become close with my sister. We went to bed very quickly after that, and only had a few hours of shuteye before our alarms went off.
We started off by hopping on the bus toward Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the country. We walked around and window shopped for a bit, then stopped for lunch at one of the cafes surrounding the tower. I of course ordered croquettes, and Karen ordered a burger which we gobbled down. By the time we finished, paid the bill, and bought our tour tickets, our Grandma and cousin had finally met up with us. Grandma had recently had two hip replacements, so climbing literally hundreds of steps up a narrow stairway wasn't the best idea, hence why she decided to sit this one out and people watch. The tour was very informational, and the stairs. were. brutal. Karen and I were profusely sweating by the time we reached the top.
View of Utrecht from top of Dom Tower
Dinner with a view!
We were given NASCAR style jackets, something that looks like a ski mask, and helmet to wear, and we looked so ridiculous! Plus, we were racing against a group of roudy twenty-something year old boys who were so fast and did not feel bad about ramming into our cars! After two rounds of 15 minutes, our session was over and quite frankly, we were ready to go home. It was already getting pretty dark out, so we biked home as quickly as we could and sent our cousin back to the hotel.
Had to push this heavy bike up the side of a steep staircase so we could cross this bridge.
This is me laughing about how dumb we must have looked to the locals...
Sick ride, sicker outfitDay 6:
This day was a lot more calm, since everyone was exhausted. We slept in and pretty much lazied around. I also got to go on my sister's rooftop, which required climbing an old creaky ladder through a passage door to get to a gravel-covered roof overlooking her neighborhood. Karen also took me back into town for one last shopping trip, and I was FINALLY successful! I bought a jacket, a few graphic tees, and a dainty gold necklace. Afterward, I borrowed one of her roommate's bikes and we just biked around town, where she showed me her favorite places. It was such a treat to see her so in love with this little town, and it really suited her!
Unfortunately, though, a lot of that night was spent washing clothes and packing, since I was leaving the next day. Plus, I still needed to book a room in Frankfurt for my overnight layover. It had been such a fun trip, but I know Karen was absolutely exhausted from hosting so many visitors. We went to bed pretty early, and just chatted in bed until we fell asleep.
Had to take a picture in front of her flat - it was just too cute!Day 7:
The next morning, I made sure I had everything all packed up and ready to go for my flight home. I still had some time before I needed to head to the station, so Karen and I went out for brunch at a nearby cafe. I ordered a croissant and coffee, and she got yogurt and granola- both of our meals were so yummy! In Utrecht, this little cafe was a typical little place, but it had a vintage-y, simple vibe to it that I think it would be a gem in a city like Grand Rapids, where I live. After breakfast, I grabbed my little Away suitcase, and Karen kindly rode the bus with me to the train station in town. After our goodbyes, I boarded the train, which would take me to the airport. Just like on my flight(s) to the Netherlands, I first had a flight from Amsterdam to Munich, then to Frankfurt, where I had about a twelve hour overnight layover. If it had been 7 hours or shorter, I probably would have just slept in the hotel, but I thought 12 hours would be enough time to go into the city and actually step foot into Frankfurt, even for just a little bit. I followed the signs from the airport to the train, and thankfully had looked up the right train line to take and stop to get off at before I lost wifi connection. I still somehow missed my train, but luckily since I was going to the city center, the next one showed up just a few minutes later. Once in the city center, I grabbed a taxi to take me to my hotel. By the time I checked in and changed my clothes (I was sweaty from running from place to place...anyone else get like this when they travel?), it was already about 10:30pm and dark out. I knew most attractions, and even restaurants would be closed by now, and any cool bars worth going to wouldn't be in the area. That didn't really matter though, because I knew if I was only going to do one thing, it would be to visit Romerberg, also known as Old Town. It has been an important plaza since medieval times, and has that "old German village" charm you see in movies.
The man at the front desk of the hotel marked the easiest way to walk to Romerberg, but I also downloaded the directions from Google Maps before I left, which is super convenient for travelers who are solely dependent on public wifi. The way to the plaza took me through what I figured to be the area where young locals go out, and everyone was dressed to the nines..while I was in leggings, a Led Zeppelin t-shirt and Adidas while vlogging alone. Needless to say, I stood out like a sore thumb. I just talked to myself into the camera until I got to the plaza, just to find an empty Iron Man event set-up right in the middle of Old Town! It was a bit bummed, since it kept me from being able to take panoramic pictures of the square, but at the same time, it was cool to see the contrast of such a modern event space set up around 400 year-old architecture.
There wasn't really anyone around to take pictures of me, so I found what I assume was a large electrical box and set the self-timer. I felt so stupid at first, but soon got over it, considering there wasn't much else I could do!
The most amateur photography ever...but waddya gonna do?
Once I took a few photos and walked around the plaza, it was time to head back and find some food. The only place open was Burger King, believe it or not, so I just ordered nuggets and fries. I tried joking with the cashier, explaining that the only phrase I know in German is how to say "I don't speak German," but apparently Burger King staff in this country are a tough crowd. Once back in my hotel room, I scarfed down my food, packed my suitcase, set an alarm for 4AM, and fell right asleep.
Finally, time to go home! I ordered a taxi at about 5:00 and had him take me straight to the airport since I didn't want to risk getting lost in the train station and missing my flight. Normally, I try to arrive 2-3 hours early for an international flight just in case security lines are long, but little did I know, Frankfurt airport's international customs line doesn't open until about 6 or 6:30am, meaning I- along with several other confused travelers- sat on the ground for the next hour waiting for more explanation. As promised, the airport staff arrived and I got through security. I was then told to go to the ticket counter to check in, since for some reason I wasn't able to online.
When I got to the check in counter, I was told my luggage was nearly 5kg too heavy, and I started freaking out. All I had brought was my tiny suitcase and knock-off Longchamp, I didn't have any way to even out my luggage's weight. After trying (and failing) about 5 times, the lady at the counter felt some pity for me and gave me a pass since my luggage fit the carry-on size limits. SCORE!! I will forever be grateful to that Lufthansa lady. Prayer hands emoji AF.
The flight into Chicago was pretty uneventful, and I was so happy to be back in the States after traveling for what felt like forever. But my trip wasn't over yet!
My sweet boyfriend, Jordan, agreed to drive out from Grand Rapids to Chicago to pick me up, on one condition: that we go to the Lincoln Park Zoo. He's loved zoos since he was a kid, and we really enjoyed Lincoln Park Zoo when we visited together in January 2016. Since I felt bad that he had to drive nearly 3 hours to pick me up, I begrudgingly said yes. I was still in my t-shirt and jeans from the flight, and it was over 85 degrees at the zoo that day. You could say I was exhausted and none too pleased when we finally left the zoo a couple hours later.
And then, FINALLY, we were on the road back to Grand Rapids! I was so excited to take a shower, unpack, lay down, and start actually moving into my new apartment! By 11pm that Sunday night, I was happily curled into bed, recounting all of the amazing and fun memories I had made during my first trip to the Netherlands!
Holland was truly D-lightful!
Well, that wraps it up! My super long, crazy, and possibly disorganized trip to Amsterdam and Utrecht (ft. Frankfurt)! It was such an exciting trip, and I am so happy I was able to take the opportunity to visit for the first time! I truly recommend Holland to those who are considering it- and it definitely won't be the last time for me!
Thank you for reading up to this point! Let me know your thoughts: Is Holland on your bucket list? What would you want to do the most? Let me know in the comments! Otherwise, thanks again for reading, and have a fabulous weekend!