To start off my Spring Break holidays, I found myself in the very unique – and very unconventional (at least for American standards) – city of Amsterdam.
It actually worked out that the beginning of holidays coincided with the annual Dutch holiday called King’s Day, formerly Queen’s Day. The holiday celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Basically, it’s just another reason/excuse for the Dutch to wear oranje with pride, party on the canals, and do whatever else the Dutch are known for ;)
Being in Amsterdam on King’s Day, all I saw was orange, all I smelt was weed, and all I heard was house music.
To the dismay (and possible slight concern) of some family and friends, I actually stayed and wandered about the Dutch city on my own. I had some reservations about it myself, I will admit. However, it was an once in a lifetime opportunity and an experience I couldn’t pass up.
I arrived in Amsterdam on Friday evening. After buying something orange (which is a must for King’s Day) and grabbing dinner, I walked out of Schiphol to find the hotel’s shuttle and was immediately greeted by this.
I did it! I made it to Amsterdam by myself.
But the day wasn’t over yet as I was off to the hotel. After jumping on the free shuttle to and from the airport, I was eager to check in. Waiting for me was a shower, a meal, and a good night’s sleep.
It was quite funny because after I checked in, a whole tour bus of Filipinos rolled up. I immediately recognized the language/accent, and it made me think of my family and relatives. A couple of the older ones and I took the lift up so I asked if they were Filipino and they asked the same. They also asked if I was traveling alone. I told them I was meeting some friends this weekend just so they wouldn’t worry.
Saturday, 26 April – King’s Day
My first stop of the day was to 263 Prinsengracht.
I had the opportunity to tour the secret annex where Anne Frank, her family, and 4 others spent two years in hiding during World War II. It was surreal to be there, having read Anne Frank’s diary in middle school. To this day, one of my favourite quotes is one she wrote in her diary. “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
After walking through the dark rooms and narrow halls, I ventured back out to the canals. By the time I got out of Anne Frank Huis, it was nearly midday and so all of Amsterdam was awake.
Everywhere I looked, I saw orange and people.
On the canals.
On the streets.
On Rembradnt and company.
It was a little chilly at times, but then the sun would peak out and stick around for a bit before seeking refuge behind the clouds. I found myself taking off my jacket and putting it back on several times throughout the day. But it was overall a good weather day to celebrate in Holland.
Sunday, 27 April
I spent only one full day in Amsterdam, and that was Saturday for King’s Day. However, my flight to Scotland wasn’t until the early afternoon; which left just enough time to meet and catch up with some other study abroad-ers over Dutch pancakes at the Pancake Bakery.
It was lovely to sit and talk with these girls. It’s nice to be with people who are like you and share the same interests. And it’s funny how you can have so much in common and like the same things- be practically the same person- yet still be individuals. See you girls back in the States!
After our meal, we went our separate ways. It was their first meal in Amsterdam, and it was my last. On my walk back to the train station in the rain, I was able to take some more pictures of the city.
Being a young woman, traveling solo is not exactly an option. I find that a lot of girls are discouraged to travel by themselves because they are told that women shouldn’t travel alone. It’s nice to have company, and I’ve had really great traveling companions whom I want to go places with again.
But sometimes, the best company is yourself. No one likes to feel vulnerable or unsafe, and sometimes I even get these pangs of anxiety where I second-guess and doubt myself. The unknown can be terrifying, but it’s also what makes life interesting.
And speaking for myself, I find it so exciting to be in a city where no one knows your name.
Amsterdam, you were fun.
Thought Catalog: Why Women Should Travel Alone