Spring Break Part 2: Amsterdam and Prague!Siena, Spring 2012

On Monday, we kicked off the next part of our trip- Amsterdam!  There, we met up with six other girls.  Amsterdam is my absolute favorite city that I have visited so far.  The hostel we stayed in was a docked boat, which was really neat.  The rooms were very small and had port holes for windows.  On our first afternoon, we took a 3 hour (free!) walking tour was awesome.  I really got a feel for the type of place Amsterdam is.  Our guide, who moved there from Australia, described it as a place where you can do whatever you want to do, and be whoever you want to be.  Basically, there is endless freedom, which I believe is a very beautiful thing.  Not only is Amsterdam a spirited place, but physically it is wonderful as well.  Water runs through the city, it reminds me of Venice in that way.  Yet all of the architecture is so cozy looking and quaint.  Everyone rides around on bikes, which is a little scary until you get used to it- but mostly it just adds to the charm of the city. There are also many attractions that I was very much looking forward to seeing in Amsterdam.  My friends and I went to the Heineken Experience on our first evening, and it was so fun.  It was really an interactive museum.  We got to see the manufacturing process, and exactly how the beer is made.  We also saw commercials through out the decades and of course we got to taste the beer too! The next day, we started off the day at the Anne Frank house.  This was a particularly emotional visit for me, since I am Jewish.  The house was so steep and narrow.  I liked that there wasn’t an actual tour, but you guided yourself around so you could go at whatever pace you wanted.  To see where she hid for so long was indescribable.  I could not believe I was actually in the very place.  It was a reminder to me that I am incredibly lucky not only to be able to live freely, but also to have wonderful opportunities, such as traveling across Europe. That same day, we went to the Van Gogh museum.  Although I am not an art lover, I was able to appreciate Van Gogh’s works.  The museum had many floors, and was filled mostly with his work.  It helped me that there were many written passages about the paintings, and Van Gogh’s life in general. Shortly after the Van Gogh museum, we headed to the airport, and flew to our next stop, Prague, Czech Republic! Although the Czech Republic, is in the EU, it has its own currency- the koruna.  This is a particularly intimidating exchange to make in your head, because 1 euro is about 23 koruna.  Therefore, when you see the price of your sandwich is 100 koruna, it’s pretty shocking at first! During our first full day in Prague, we did another free 3 hour walking tour.  My favorite part of the city is where our hotel was- in Old Town Square.  The best way for me to describe Old Town Square is that the buildings are extremely old, ornate, and gorgeous.  I especially loved the astronomical clock, which we used often as a reference point.  We also visited the Prague castle, which is the biggest medieval castle in Europe, and it was magnificent.  On our way back to the hotel we crossed the Charles Bridge.  We wound up taking about a half hour to cross because we were so enthralled.  There were vendors everywhere, and the bridge was so beautiful itself with statues along it, and beautiful views off of it.  There were a bunch of bands playing music too, which was fun to watch because they were old men and they were having such a great time playing you just had to smile watching them. Something else I loved about Prague is the international food! Of course they have Czech food- but we also got to have Japanese and Mexican food while we were there (and I am ashamed to admit, I even had a mcflurry).  In Italy, (at least in Tuscany) it is hard to find the ingredients to cook international food, and also hard to find international restaurants.   [caption id="attachment_38350" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Amsterdam"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_38351" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Prague"][/caption]  
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