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Travel Blog: Experiencing Amsterdam

After spending an entire semester in Sweden and traveling around Italy, I didn’t expect my year abroad would land me in the capital city of the Netherlands. After the 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland disrupted our flight schedule, my Swedish classmates and I were in for a couple days of wandering the beautiful and unique streets of Amsterdam.

The first site we had to see was the Red Light District. Yes, we were with several overenthusiastic boys, but I cannot say that us girls were not at least a little bit curious to see this site that we had only ever heard stories about. While the stone streets of the Red Light District were lined with adult shops and gentlemen’s clubs, the area did have numerous gift shops selling things that were truly original of Amsterdam. Although it was difficult to resist buying gifts for my older brothers, I knew my mother would not find the souvenirs of the Red Light District very amusing.

Besides the few streets that are the Red Light District area, Amsterdam really is a beautiful city. It was a city unlike any I had ever seen because of its historical architecture, colorful buildings and flowing canals.

Although Amsterdam does not typically get the hype that other European cities such as Paris and Rome get, Amsterdam has plenty of historical sites that are well-worth visiting. For example, during our visit a few of the girls in my class and I got the chance to visit the home of Anne Frank, a German girl who wrote about her experiences during the Holocaust in a diary that later became the book entitled “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Standing in the home of the Anne Frank where she had experienced such inconceivable hardship was an experience that I will never forget.

The Anne Frank House

Many of you may be wondering how it is possible to afford traveling all over Europe. Truth is, the most important thing for traveling on a budget is strategy. On almost every trip I went on, I was scraping to pay for lodging, food, and the price of attractions. However, traveling in Europe on a budget is totally doable. While in Amsterdam, our class stayed in a “hostel”, or a cheap hotel. These affordable hostels do not have the amenities or luxuries of regular hotels. Often you eat together with other travelers in one big cafeteria-like room and even sleep in rooms with those that you do not know. Some Europeans prefer to travel this way because it allows you to meet others you are staying with and live in a community-like environment.

The “dining room” of our hostel in Amsterdam.

Should you get the chance to tour Europe, do not forget about the exciting city of Amsterdam. There is plenty to see, experience, and learn about in this city full of historical and unique sites!

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