Sunday, March 4, 2012


13 hour layovers are my new favorite thing.  It's like a free way to explore a new city every time I fly! I can't wait to book my flights depending on the location of the layovers, now :)
Amsterdam Centraal
Layover Tour Location # 1: Amsterdam
Line to Anne Frank House
I looked up a few things to do in the city before I left the States and planned to visit a few different museums and touristy spots around the city. After figuring out how to get out of the airport (and yes, I had to ask someone how to "get out of here") I took the train to the central station.  I followed the directions I wrote down prior and took the tram to the Anne Frank House.  Thankfully I arrived at 9:15, 15 minutes after opening time, because when I finished the tour at 10:15 or so there was already a long line outside, and I heard it's basically always like that, all day.  The museum/house was amazing, it took me a little bit to get into it but once you walk up one of those narrow, steep staircases you begin to feel a bit what it must have been like to be cooped up in that attic, unable to leave or even see the sunlight for fear of being noticed and sent away.  Honestly the thing I loved most was how many different people were in the house with me, from all over the world, learning about Anne Frank and her story.  Parents teaching their kids about this important piece of history comforted me and made me feel like people care.  Sometimes it's really hard to remember that not the whole world is against you, or hates you, when you live in Israel.
Across from the Anne Frank House
I realized that the Anne Frank House was only two stops on the tram so I decided to walk back to the central train station and get a map in order to spend the rest of my day touring the city by foot.  My next stop was the Van Gogh museum, which happened to be pretty close to the Anne Frank Museum and I did a great deal of backtracking walking back to the central train station, oops. Anyway, it was a great, fairly typical, (for someone who knows next to nothing about art) museum.  Glad I saw it, not much more to note there.  From the Van Gogh museum I decided not to go to the diamond museum because I don't really care about diamonds and I'd rather not support the cause of collecting/producing diamonds which has a bit of a sticky, not-very-humanitarian background to it.  I also opted out of visiting the Rijks Museum because I wasn't much in the art-museum mood and it looked HUGE...but beautiful. Next time, maybe.  Instead I opted for the Heineken Brewery, great choice.

Red Light District
On the way back to the central train station I stopped at a local coffeeshop for a nice cup of coffee. Yes, I actually only had a cup of coffee.  I opted for the outside seating so as not to be overwhelmed with the goings on inside of the coffeeshop, and thankfully I didn't even have to think twice about what I would be ordering since I am a soldier girl now and that makes even certain legal drugs off-limits for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my coffee and book in the warm winter sun.  Kind of by accident my next tourist stop was the Red Light District.
It was on the way back to the train station so hell, why not take a peek.  It was 3 or 4 in the afternoon and I wasn't expecting to see much but boy was I wrong.  I chuckled a little thinking that the girls looked like porcelain dolls in boxes as they were standing in the windows. I like to imagine that all they do is just stand in the windows all the time, that made me feel more comfortable and not sad. The point was to say I saw it, and I did.

I proceeded to make my way back to the airport, bought a Starbucks Coffee, and slept for an hour or so before I could check into my flight back home to Israel.

Things to note about Amsterdam:
There are a ton of bicycles and not a lot of cars. The cars that do drive around with the tram don't beep their horns and it makes for a mysteriously but lovely quiet city. I think there are 40% more bicycles than the amount of citizens or something like that.

There are port-a-potty type things in the middle of the sidewalks for men to pee in. It's kind of weird but better than them peeing on the side of the road I suppose.
A lot of people speak a lot of languages. Or because I don't understand Dutch I thought it was 5 different languages not one, that could also be the case.
There are an unusual amount of falafel shops, guess they're in high demand.

The buildings are flat in the front. Sometimes so flat that they actually lean forward into the street, it's a little bit scary.
The flower market has more fake flowers than real ones, but they're still pretty.

That's all for now, stay tuned for my next layover adventure...

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