Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Amsterdam: Windmills, Cheese, and Bicycles

Sitting on top of the letters "t" and "e" of the giant AMSTERDAM slogan located at the back of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam's Museumplein

The question I've been asked most in the past few months has been "What was your favorite city?" And my answer has been "Honestly, it's really hard to identify one city as my favorite. Everywhere I've visited has been so beautiful and unique and they're all so different. But if I had to identify one city as my favorite, it would be Amsterdam." And that brings us to this post. 

So why is Amsterdam my favorite city? Well, actually on the contrary to the image most people have of Amsterdam (you know exactly what I'm talking about!), it really is for the most part a really gorgeous city with clean streets, and the healthiest and happiest people in Europe and some really great fresh food! 

I think what really made my stay so much more special and different from how most people experience Amsterdam was that I got to stay with my older sister's Dutch friend, Wycher, and his roommate and I got to see everything from a local's perspective. 

Quick tip: rent a bike while you're there! And watch out for the bikers...you can get into serious accidents with other bikers if you're not careful. True story!

Word of wisdom: Do not ask high teenagers to take a picture of you. They will take a giggly selfie instead.

Amsterdam was my kind of city when it came to food above other things. These stands which you can find all around Amsterdam sell the most delicious sweet snacks including my personal favorite: "Oliebol" - plain with powdered sugar, with raisins, and with nutella and powdered sugar. Uhhhh....I'm drooling just writing about it!!!

Me with my Oliebol. My smile should tell you my level of excitement. 

My tummy was a happy camper in Amsterdam :D This beauty in my hand is a freshly-made warm caramel Stroopwafel. My Dutch friends say I pronounce Stroopwafel like Germans do. As long as I'm understood when I order one, I'm good :D

THE BEST way to see Amsterdam...on the back of a Dutch person's bike. As Wycher explained to me, all Dutch people grow up biking from the youngest age and it is really second nature to them. In fact, almost all Dutch people, especially in Amsterdam, do not own a car as it can be as expensive as 40-50 EUROS PER DAY! to park your car in Amsterdam. I asked Wycher if they would take girls out on a date on the back of the bike and he said if it's not too fancy of a date, then they would! Now that would never fly in LA! 

Just gorgeous...this city is just gorgeous!

At the Van Gogh museum with Vincent Van Gogh himself (!)
Definitely a museum worth visiting. For me, it was really interesting to see a lot of the work I had studied in my modern art history class from up close. The museum was also built in a way that would allow you to truly engage with the artwork while learning about Van Gogh. It felt as if I was really experiencing the highs and lows of his life with him. Highly recommended! 

Yet another food picture. A definite plus of seeing a city with someone who is from there is that you get to experience it as a local would. This place has the BEST most mouthwatering scrumptious Apple Pie with fresh whipped cream I have ever tasted in my whole life. This is really not even an exaggeration. This place was always packed with locals eating delicious fresh food and washing it down with an apple pie and coffee. Take me back :/

"Anne Frank House" - This place really affected me the most out of all the places I have visited. It is an eye-opening, powerful powerful display of human courage and wisdom found in a little teenage girl's heart who had been truly gifted with an enormous ability to write so intricately and beautifully that makes you feel like you are re-living those moments in her life and the ones around her. Another reason why this place really resonated with me was that it reminded me of how Baha'i's in Iran are currently being treated. All I wish for is that one day soon we can only have  peace and love between people, regardless of their race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Forgot to mention that this touching quote is by the young Anne Frank. I like it so much because it is exactly what my goal in life is. I hope that my story will never be as sad and heartbreaking as hers but that the impact I make can be as large as the impact that she has made in the world. 

Here you go. This is me in the center of the touristy area. It is dirty, it smells like all sorts of drugs, there are drunk and high people everywhere, and it actually kind of stinks. Not my kind of scene but a lot of people seem to enjoy it. It was good to see this side of Amsterdam as well. 

Only in Amsterdam! Condomerie, an entire store dedicated to condoms. They had so many funny ones. I bought a pink one with a small pink plastic pig statute on the tip. It's the cutest looking thing ever!

Exploring Amsterdam like a true Dutch!

At the clog-making workshop 40 minutes outside of Amsterdam where a collection of the oldest windmills in Netherlands exist.
Wycher told me he actually used to go ice-skating on the lake with these when he was younger!

Dutch humor :D

Victoria, Nick, and I at the windmills
The first Albert Heijn supermarket ever, one of Netherland's largest supermarket chains
Inside Albert Heijn's first store with the very friendly man who worked there. 

Clog-making workshop - to see a video of how these oldest form of shoes are made, visit travelwithava's YouTube channel and don't forget to subscribe!

Inside one of the windmills. In this one, they were grinding and making fresh paint from scratch. Definitely go into one when you visit.  
This looks so inappropriate I had to take a picture. of it. This illustrates how the traditional Herring fish is eaten in the Netherlands.
A look inside the typical seafood stands that sell Herring as well.


  1. Hey Ava! This reminds me of my trip to Amsterdam coz I went to most of these places! Love it!
    Did you try the raw herring? that's my favorite!

    1. Hey Anne! You have no idea how happy seeing your comment made me! I'm so glad you loved the post and that it reminded you of Amsterdam :) I'm a vegetarian so I couldn't try it but I've heard amazing things about it. Did you try the apple pie at that place? It was my favorite thing I ate in Amsterdam.


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