First off I want everyone to know that I unfortunately was sick during this trip. So if things don't sound very exciting it's because it was hard for me to be excited because I felt so miserable. I have tonsillitis and strep throat and those are some symptoms you never want to feel!
Okay anyway, this trip was a little different than the ones we usually take because my husband didn't go! It was a girls weekend since all of our husbands are in the field. We left Friday morning to drive to Amsterdam. If you drive please know that you will at some point get caught in traffic. There is no way around it. It is a 7 hour drive but I can bet it will take longer no matter what. Also know that you have to have your international drivers license to drive in Holland! If you know anything about the Netherlands then you probably know it rains... ALL THE TIME! This is another reason the drive takes a little longer. The closer you get to Holland the higher chance of rain. For us, it rained all through Germany and Holland! Once you get to Holland the speed limit is very much enforced! They don't have zones of no speed limit like they do here in Germany. They have traffic cameras everywhere, so watch your speed!
I was with 2 other girls and the plan of going to Amsterdam originated because one of my friends had her cats flown in from the states. Flying them into Amsterdam was cheaper and it allowed us to have a road trip! We were also lucky enough to have some of her family, who happen to be from Amsterdam, invite us over for dinner Friday night. We enjoyed our dinner and got some advise on things to do in the city!
Saturday morning we woke up (me feeling awful) and headed straight for the city center. Our hotel was on the outskirts of the city so we bought a 48 hour bus pass. I highly recommend getting a public transportation pass at any city you go to! You will do a lot less walking and will be able to get places faster. Also if it's raining then you don't have to get soaking wet. We got to the center of the city and the first thing we noticed was it's so busy! Amsterdam is a large city and there were people and bikes everywhere! When crossing the street be sure to watch for cars, bikes, buses, trams, and other people! I can't believe we never saw anyone get hit! We started walking down their "walking street" and within the first 20 minutes you can immediately smell marijuana. Now, please know that Amsterdam is one of the most liberal countries. They are very open and free. Everything happens in Amsterdam. Part of visiting the city is just taking in the culture shock of how they do things. Yes, there are "cafes" everywhere that sell drugs. Yes, prostitution is legal and right in the open. Most of the drug use and prostitution is right in the center of the city. There are other places in Holland that would be great to visit. Even on the outskirts of Amsterdam. So don't think you should never go, just do your research on "family friendly" activities!
So after being shocked with the overwhelming smell we continued browsing the street. There were a lot of great little stores to shop at. And with us being 3 girls we obviously had to stop and buy a few things :) Unfortunately while we were there is rained the entire time! I didn't get to use my awesome camera, only my phone :( If you talk to any of the Dutch they will tell you "yes, it rains, all the time" so be prepared when you go! We continued to walk around and found a cute little pub to eat some lunch. We walked in and out of different souvenir shops. We saw the national monument and the Palace. And of course we went to the red light district. This was another shock and kind of comical to me. These women standing in windows... ha, it was just awkward and gross but one of those things that even the Dutch say "you just have to do." We then found an awesome Mexican restaurant. We really enjoyed this Mexican because the Germans don't make good Mexican food. And it is kind of weird sometimes eating a different culture of food when visiting a country but when you're hungry it doesn't matter. Plus we never found a typical Dutch restaurant.
Sunday we went back to the city center and bought our souvenirs. I of course got a Christmas ornament and a pair of wooden shoes. We also went to the Heineken Brewery. If you don't like Heineken you should still go. For some reason the beer tastes better in Holland than it does in the states. Later that night we found a "Saloon" although now like a saloon in the states. It had a fantastic atmosphere! The food was great, the music, the service... We didn't want to leave but they started a trivia night and well it was in Dutch so there was no reason for us to stick around haha.
Monday morning we drove to the airport to pick up my friends cats. There was a HUGE delay which is a story in itself! I will be sure to post on the PCS side of my blog about shipping pets! I hope no one has to wait 11 hours like we did! We then drove 7.5 hours back and arrived home at 5:00am