Smoke-free Amsterdam?!

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Yes, I Am-sterdammed 🙂

Ok I know It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post… I’m sorry!  Second semester hit like a ton of bricks right at the start, with a big project submission (that I COULD have worked on over break, but I went on an adventure instead) an all day field trip to our semester project site, learning new software, a week-long field trip to the Scottish Borders and Newcastle, and this week yet again more submissions.  And life in there somewhere.  So yes, I am a terrible blogger, but I’m first a mediocre student! I gotta get school done before I can play 🙂 will TRY to get a few more out there this week!

First things first! I promised trip updates!

Oh Amsterdam… Such a bizarre conundrum you are!!

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Who am I to disagree? Annie Lennox for the win!

After Belgium I caught the bus to Amsterdam, or what I thought was Amsterdam!  Listen up kids- take out your earplugs when the bus driver is talking, or you may get off where you don’t want to!  I got off the bus and wandered to the train station, then asked the info desk man where Marnixsraat was… he told me Amsterdam.

Me: “Um… does that mean I’m not in Amsterdam??”

Info desk man: “Yes.  You’re in Utrecht.”

Me: “Oh… How do I get to Amsterdam??”

Info desk man: “Get a ticket and catch the train behind you.”

Awesome.  One hour after my expected arrival I made it to Amsterdam!  The tram took me straight to Marnixstraat (Marnix Street) and I settled into my dorm, just me and 14 empty beds!  Sounds ok to me 🙂

Here’s the big kicker: what do you do in Amsterdam, the city of pot and prostitution, if you have no interest in getting high or -well- other stuff??  Amsterdam really has an amazing history and beautiful beautiful architecture, so I started there.  I KNEW I wanted to see Anne Frank Haus, and that’s exactly what I did on my first morning.

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Anne Frank Haus. You would never know there were eight people hiding the back rooms of the house.

Everybody!  Yes, you too!  I need your attention!! Go to Anne Frank Haus.  Today.  Your life will never be the same.  If you have read her diary it’s just fantastic to see the pages come to life.  If you haven’t read it- what are you waiting for?!? Go read it, then go to her house!!

But in all seriousness, Anne Frank Haus left a mark on my memory I hope never fades.  The sheer perseverance a human is capable of, and the ability to stay human, to still love, in the face of all adversity.  She was not a hero.  She was not a perfect, happy little girl.  She was a nervous, anxious, extremely perceptive young woman who had no one to talk to except her diary, and she spoke of life with insight well beyond her fourteen years.  She dreamed of being a famous journalist, and her father ensured the world would know her name.

Anne is a wonderful reminder to live your life, to live each day with love and laughter, and to cherish what you have while you have it.  You never know when your world could unravel.  Emma Thompson said in a speech that circulates through the main floor- “her ‘what-ifs’ are our opportunities” and Emma is right.  We can learn from the heartache of the past by taking the opportunity to change our lives.

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Cool modern art set against beautiful old architecture 🙂 This non-architect can not tell you ANYTHING about it…

Moving along, I kept at it trying to keep myself busy.  Another solution to not being interested in the, er, ‘major attractions,’ is to walk.  A lot.  It was about this point in my journey I started crunching numbers and realized I REALLY didn’t need to see all the museums and attractions, because I REALLY didn’t want to spend money on them.  I made a decision to see ONE major attraction in each city, and spend the rest of the time just seeing the city itself.

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Love the canals 🙂

Amsterdam was a great place to start this practice because the ONE other place I wanted to see was the Van Gogh museum, and it wasn’t cheap.  I’m super glad I went though!  My perception of Van Gogh before visiting the museum was that he was a moody, eccentric, mentally troubled man who happened to paint really well.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  (Even though he DOES paint really well).Van Gogh, as soon as he realized he wanted to paint, spent the rest of his life pursuing perfection.  He studied and studied and sketched and inquired and tried new things.  He moved to Paris because he knew it was where all the best painters were.  He painted until the day he died, still working towards his perfect ideal for himself.

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Starting to get the hang of this world travelling stuff!

The rest of my time and most of the last day of the trip was spent window shopping and writing my paper!  I’m really starting to make progress and getting some good points down.  The hotel staff think I’m insane for sitting on my tablet instead of exploring the city… But I’m saving my money for the rest of the trip 🙂

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This backpack has officially reached full-on champ status.

An easy bus, a delayed plane (and a chatty German who looks JUST like my old roommate Becca’s brother… The perfect doppleganger!) and I was jumping into yet another country!  My first German adventure is coming up next!

Keep smiling!

Love and Laughs,

-Taylor

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European Shmorgasbord

Hello and a very happy (albeit late) New Year/ Hogmanay to you!!

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Taken outside Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna

It’s hard to describe my past month and a half without being struck by just how blessed I am.  I have dreamed since age six of travelling and going to far flung corners of the world.  While none of the places I visited in the last five weeks are flung very far, I was still able to see 8 countries and 18 cities with one backpack (mostly) and one pair of shoes (til Mom and Dad joined me 🙂 ) Not bad for my first backpacking adventure!

Since this post would quickly become a novel if I wrote out my whole travel story today, I have decided to break it down into much more manageable chunks of travel goodness.  Over the next few weeks I will do a post on each of the cities I visited and what I experienced along the way.  Don’t worry, I’ll still be mixing in my good old Scottishenanigans! 🙂

Not many shenanigans today I’m afraid… My first full day back in Edinburgh consisted of laundry, catching up on homework, and sending a million emails to sort out everything I neglected while I was away.  Classes start up on Monday so I have to figure out where my A-game went and get it polished before then!

Hogmanay

While it’s still generally regarded as the new year, I’ll quickly mention the bedlam that is Hogmanay!  Scotland’s New Year celebration rings in each year with a bang… And Edinburgh starts off with an amazing torch procession up Prince’s street!  The next night is the 31st, and the street party that shuts down the middle of the city.  I didn’t partake, but I did pick up a t-shirt!  And just saying… The fireworks are INSANE.  The best I have ever seen.  Stop by YouTube to see just how cool they were.

Happy Friday, stay tuned for my first holiday stop- Brussels!

Love and laughs,

-Taylor