Flying out of Boston we arrived in Amsterdam after a few delays, due to snow and people wanting to get off the plane. A few hours later, tired, ready to relax, and ready to begin the adventure, we arrived. Transfer to the Hostel was easy, as a tour guide was waiting for us. Our trip guide had already taken the first half of the two groups back to the hostel. Once at the hostel, our guide quickly showed us to our rooms and we would meet back in the lobby so he could bring us to some of the important areas in town, like Dam Square, so that we would be able to explore on our own before or after the welcome mixer. We did a walk around the area, including walking through the Red Light District, and he pointed out where the free bathrooms were. Yes, that's right, you have to pay to use the toilet in most places here, but as Tyson (our guide) pointed out, if you're smart, you use the bathroom before shopping since most give you a credit (of equal value) to the store that you are using the bathroom at. After we were done exploring on our own, it was off to the welcome mixer. Food, drinks, and new friends. Surprisingly enough, a lot of us at my table learned each other's names by the end of the night, which equalled about half of the group. After the welcome mixer was over a few of us decided it was time to make our way back to the hostel with a stop at two other bars for a quick drink. We were going to check out the Red Light District Museum but that didn't happen due to a long line. So it was off to the hostel for us.
Wake up in the morning and its time for breakfast. With all of the hostel hits: hard-boiled eggs, deli meats, yogurt, granola - the basics. Our day would start off with a walking tour of the city. I wont ruin the tour for anyone, but it was a great way to see some parts of the city. At the end of the tour, Tyson bought the group some snacks in the form of Oliebols, kinda like a fried dough ball, which are really good and traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve. After some free time to grab a bite to eat, which we failed at doing, we headed off to an optional excursion that took us on a canal cruise in Amsterdam, with drinks, cheese, and some meats. Just like the welcome mixer it was a great way for everyone to get to know each other, especially all in a boat together. There were some great laughs when we got to see people struggle to get into the tiny bathroom on the boat, which had been warned of before. The rest of the night would consist of everyone preparing for the New Year's Eve excursion to a bar where there would be food, drinks, and a champagne toast at midnight for four different EF groups (well the members of the groups that chose to go on this optional excursion). One of the things that we were warned about was the love of fireworks, but there were one hundred times more fireworks than I could have ever thought. I mean, people were running out into the street and lighting off fireworks small and large all over the city. Seeing the spent fireworks the next morning was almost breathtaking.
On our second and final full day in Amsterdam, we would be going to the Anne Frank house. This was one of those truly moving experiences that you will have in life, especially since it was something that we had covered in school growing up, and it was never a place I thought I would see. From the quotes on the walls of the museum, to the actual pages from her diary, to just knowing where you were and how historical this building was, it was hard to not be overcome with every emotion you could think of. After our time in the Anne Frank house was over, a few of us had signed up for an excursion to the Dutch countryside where there would be a cheese tasting, windmills, clogs, and the cutest goat I have ever seen. As you may have guessed, we got to see how clogs were made, and even try on some very over-sized clogs that were outside the store. Why wouldn't you want a photo in a huge set of clogs with windmills in the background? Oh that's right, you would! After the clog making demonstration, we got to run off quickly, as it was starting to rain, to get some photos of the windmills, and the cute, fat brown goat. Seeing the windmills was always one of those things that I had wanted to do if I visited, after all it is one of those iconic dutch scenes, and it did not disappoint. After finishing our visit, we hopped back on the bus and headed on to our next destination.
Want to travel somewhere tropical?
Check out EF College Break's Costa Rican Adventure trip for some fun in the sun any time of year. You can read our review by clicking here! On this amazing trip you get to zip line, whitewater raft, and enjoy beautiful beaches and rain forest locations while exploring Costa Rica.