Amsterdam – Netherlands

by Oliver Xu

If someone told me I’d be going Amsterdam 3 times in a year I would’ve called myself stupid or just stupidly rich. But after my first visit, I fell in love with the quaint atmosphere and the friendly locals amidst a city that never sleeps. Amsterdam has everything to offer from a vibrant nightlife, historical monuments, world-famous art museums, beautiful canals and delicious food.

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Our first visit featured a stay at Hans Brinker, famously known as the worst hostel in the world and from that point we knew our holiday would at least be memorable in some way. The city features a canal system that adds to its charming and unique atmosphere that was quickly interrupted by us trying not to get run over by the locals riding their bikes. From witnessing the tragic history unfold in the Anne Frank house to taking a casual stroll down the sultry Red Light District, we knew that no other country could rival the wide variety of our experiences in Amsterdam. For those who do wish to indulge in legal marijuana, Amsterdam is famous for their hot chips and their Stroopwafels, (2 thin waffles sandwiched with caramel) a perfect combination.

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Our visit in spring featured us visiting beautiful tulip gardens and dining in local cafes in the arty Jordaan district.  The Keukenhof gardens are a short drive out from the city and while only open in Spring, it is known as world’s largest flower garden park. Featuring over 7 million flowers in all colours of the rainbow, be prepared to bring both a camera and Hayfever tablets.

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The third and final time we went to Amsterdam was for Kings Day, a nationwide holiday to celebrate the royal family where everyone dresses up in orange clothing. With our orange t-shirts, sunnies and caps, we wandered the streets as the entire city was filled with markets, food stalls, performances and music festivals. The atmosphere was electric and extremely crowded, while the canals were filled with party boats blasting their music.

It wasn’t until the morning after Kings Day where reality hit us as we realized that we wouldn’t be coming back to Amsterdam for a very long time.  As we ran around the statues and landmarks of the city centre 5am in the morning spamming last minute photos and selfies, exhausted but still not sober, we knew that we’d miss this city the most. As we looked around we could still see people parading down the streets, the music playing and the streets still lit and full of activity. Sometimes it’s the people you travel with or the places you see that makes travelling memorable but Amsterdam magically combines the two to give any visitor of any age an experience of a lifetime.

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