Day six in Amsterdam and this is my first post, haha. To be fair though, the first couple of days were really busy and full with getting settled in and unpacking and IKEA shopping and grocery shopping and getting over jetlag and the like. I arrived at Schipol airport on Thursday morning, super sleepy after only catching around 3 hours worth of zZz’s on the plane, and Hunter was there waiting for me to take me home :).

We took the metro (using chipkaarts! cute name for a metro card) and the first thing that I noticed about Amsterdam was that it had some really cool buildings with interesting designs and architecture (and we were still in the newer, more modern part of Amsterdam, hadn’t even seen the awesome older buildings yet). The ride back to his apartment was fairly short and once there, I took a shower and then promptly went to sleep as he went off to class for the day. We took it easy that first night, spent some good time together and made a yummy dinner (read about our cooking adventures on Hunter’s food blog) and played games until 1am before going to sleep again.

Friday. Woke up earlyish in the morning to have breakfast with Hunter before he left for class… which is when I promptly plopped back into bed. Jetlag! It was like my internal clock’s 3am or so. In the afternoon, we went to IKEA to pick up some things to help make the apartment more suitable for two. After which, the unpacking began… Some pictures of our cozy nest!

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Saturday & Sunday. We went out and I started to see Amsterdam! First thing we did on Saturday was a grocery run. Hunter’s trying this cooking system via Rachael Ray where we keep the pantry stocked with a bunch of “essentials” and spices and the idea is that all these meals can be made with just those ingredients and a few fresh additions. It seems to be working pretty well, but when the pantry supply gets depleted, the grocery run to replace everything is intense. After groceries, we had a quick lunch and then trekked back out to a nearby park (Park Frankendael) which was charming and fun and with an interesting old historical house. Then to the city center to try to find me a bike (which is going to be my main form of transportation over the next several months). There’s this great big outdoor market called Waterlooplein, our first destination. The walk there was lovely, and I snapped a bunch of pictures of the views along the way. Everything is just so different than in the states.

We went to a couple of different bike places, between the market and some secondhand stores and another bike shop that Hunter knew of a little further away. On route to the last place, we accidentally stumbled through Amsterdam’s red light district… And of course I’ve heard of it, and I know that prostitution is one of the “novelties” of the city (the sex industry is a multi-billion euro industry for the city each year, yikes), but it was still jarring, especially because it was unexpected. There were literally windows along the small streets with red curtains and girls in booths not wearing very much, bathed in red light, posing. Very odd during the day. Definitely would not not want to stumble into the area at night. But anyways, happy ending – I got my bike! It’s solid and sturdy and I think it will serve me well and! it’s purple. I was/am pleased.

Sunday was a real touristy day. We tour our guidebook with us and biked around to specific destinations and took a lot of pictures. We saw the outside of the royal palace, went through Rembrantplein (square), sampled free cheeses (the truffle goat cheese omggg), did a walk through canal ring, saw some churches and towers, a Dutch bank, the outside of the Anne Frank house (line was too long, will go back sometime, probably on a weekday), among other things. It was a lot of fun and especially so because I shared the whole day with Hunter.

Monday. A work day! Hunter took me to his school’s campus (Vrije University) and gave me a mini tour. The bike ride there was pleasant, winding through a nice park and a big “i amsterdam” sign (although not the tourist picture one, that’s in museum campus). The campus was… not as pretty on the outside as Northwestern. But the inside of the buildings were really cool! Modern and colorful and well-designed. We found a couple of different areas to do work in and I got some important things taken care of. I started feeling a little sick though, possibly because of a run the previous day in too little clothing for the chilly/drizzly weather.

And that brings me to today! Not much going on so far… I have a bunch of errands I need to run, but I’m still nervous about striking out on my own with the bike and trying to navigate. Will not be easy. I’m leaning towards just staying in for the most part today, working from the apartment, working out in the afternoon, and running errands tomorrow. After all, I start at the Voedselbank in the morning, so I’ll already have to figure out navigation, haha.

Aaand now we’re up to speed, more or less! Ready for all the adventures to come :).

takeaways –

  • crunchy muesli is a much more fun way to say what I feel is exactly the same thing as granola
  • amsterdam is colorful and modular
  • but the fashion is very monochromatic; the people who look most well-dressed are always in various layered shades of black
  • the tree-lined/house-lined/boat-lined canals are so charming
  • pretty sure i’m going to be overusing the word “charming” way too much these next few months
  • the weather is pretty much consistently dreary around here, sigh
  • i don’t at all know how i’m going to find my own way around these streets and canals on bike
  • “anything, everything, little or big, becomes an adventure when the right person shares it”
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