Following a week of non-stop traveling from Italy to Greece, I barely had a chance to catch my breath before my weekend in Amsterdam. The day after I returned to London, I had three assignments, one mid-term essay, and two presentations due. This can perfectly sum up the life of a student who is studying abroad.
I spent my weekend in Amsterdam with my friend Anahit, whom I met at NYU’s Armenian Club my first semester at NYU. Instead of a strict itinerary for this trip, we instead just had an idea of what we wanted to see and do in Amsterdam, which was probably the best option after a busy couple weeks.
Anahit arrived in Amsterdam a day before I did because she had tickets to see the System of a Down concert… which I was told was amazing. I arrived that Friday evening, and mostly relaxed and waited at a nearby restaurant until someone could let me into our room so I could sleep and recharge for the following day.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam houses the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, with over 600 paintings and drawings, as well as 700 letters by Vincent. Many know Van Gogh from his famous painting The Starry Night, however that painting is actually displayed in MOMA in New York City. Below are some of my favorite paintings displayed at the museum.
After the Van Gogh Museum, we spent the rest of the day exploring the city. We stopped by to have some fries (frites) from Manneken Pis, which was voted the No. 1 fries in Holland. I decided to have my fries the way the Dutch would, with mayonnaise, usually not my favorite, but it actually wasn’t bad!
Anahit and I walked towards the city center, which had huge amusement park rides set up, with little stands selling waffles, cotton candy, fries, etc.
We then went to see the I AMSTERDAM sign, and enjoyed a delicious pancake from a restaurant nearby!
Anne Frank House
On our second day, we visited the Anne Frank House, the actual hiding place where Anne Frank and her family lived during WW2. While in hiding, Anne wrote about her experiences in a diary that was a gift to her for her thirteenth birthday, with the hopes of publishing a novel after the war about her time in the Secret Annex.
This unique museum guides visitors along a route throughout the house where they will find excerpts from Anne’s diary, videos, photographs, and original objects from that time. Each museum introducers you to all eight people hiding in the Secret Annex, as well as the their helpers, who where workers at Otto Frank’s (Anne’s father) two companies, both located in the building. These helpers put their own lives at risk to provide assistance to those in hiding.
The museum route begins with the company warehouse, the offices, and supply storeroom, then continues toward a moveable bookcase that concealed the door to the Secret Annex and into the bedrooms. Anne’s room, that was shared with Fritz Pfeffer, was decorated with pictures reflecting her interests with film states, art, and history. One cannot help but feel the eerie, ghostly vibe beneath the walls.
Out of the eight that were in hiding, Otto Frank was the only one who survived. He dedicated the rest of his life to fighting prejudice and discrimination. He made the decision to have Anne’s diary published on June 25, 1947 in Dutch, which later became one of the most widely read books in the world.
Red Light District
To finish off Amsterdam, Anahit and I walked through the Red Light District, which was the definition of sex, drugs, and entertainment. Even having the knowledge of the area’s notorious reputation, it still was a bit of culture shock for me. The Red Light District is known for its culture in window-shopping for prostitutes, outrageous live-shows, and coffeeshops, all of which are VERY foreign to me. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see how different societies are accepting of different things. Photos were forbidden…for obvious reasons.
More photos around the city: