I Feel Guilty…For Being Busy Having Fun

I feel guilty that you guys have only read my pissy rant and haven’t heard any of the good stuff we’ve been experiencing. There’s been so much that it’s hard to keep up with, and I’m not gonna lie, some experiences are sweeter when you save them for yourself…like gelato. 😋

Let me reach back in my memory and start at the beginning of our time in Rome.

Pre-mature P.S.: We got a new Airbnb and it’s awesome.

Colosseum

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The almighty Colosseum! This was the first thing we chose to see for many reasons – the first being it’s an actual stop on the tram route. This was especially cool because it marks the third New7Wonders of the World that I’ve seen (others are Christ the Redeemer, also seen with Shan O, and Petra. Who knows, maybe I’ll hit all seven before I’m 30 😊). In short, it’s just as big as you’d imagine, and being in its presence is a breathtaking experience. I think Shan and I will spend one of our last days taking a tour of this kick-ass historic community gathering place.

New Artwork Among the Old: Lapidarium

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We found this horse and scratched our heads – we hadn’t heard of this one before. After some quick Googling, we found it’s part of a traveling exhibit that’s making a very relevant statement – “we all come from the same place”.

This horse is one of 43 as created by Guastavo Aceves, and together the collection speaks to the omnipresent issue of human migration and Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis. Funny thing is, Aceves began this show eight years ago, before the crisis we are familiar today became as complicated as it is. To read more about it, I encourage you to check out this article from The Guardian.

The Arch of Constantine

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Not too far from Lapidarium stands the Arch of Constantine. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I‘s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the largest Roman triumphal arch. Though dedicated to Constantine, much of the decorative material incorporated earlier work from the time of the emperors Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138) and Marcus Aurelius (161–180), and is thus a collage. Thx Wikipedia.

Forums of Rome: Augustus, Caesar, Trajan, Nerva, and the Roman One

While walking down Via dei Fori Imperiali, one is surrounded by gorgeous ruins that once stood as forums. It’s hard to imagine how these structures stood before they crumbled, but the remains are still a fascinating sight to see.

Here’s a little something I found by the forums that made me laugh:

Capitoline Hill

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Rome’s “Capitol Hill” is another beauty I’ve dreamt about visiting since seeing it in the movies. When you walk through the gate and onto the steps, you’re told not to sit anywhere on or inside it – that’s a real bummer when the entire structure is comprised of what seems like a thousand steps. My calves were a-burnin’ 🔥 but the nuggets of information scattered throughout and incredible views from the top make it 100% worth the breathlessness.

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View from atop the cordonata
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Panorama numero uno
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Tres

Trevi Fountain

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Ahh, the cornerstone to every RomCom taking place in Rome. As you may already know, there are a few myths surrounding the famous Baroque art piece when it comes to tossing coins into the water. The first one is an older legend, whereas the second two are attributed to the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain.

Throw one coin over your right shoulder, and you will return to Rome one day.

Throw two coins, and a new romance will come your way.

To throw three coins will lead to marriage.

Needless to say I dumped my whole purse in there.

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I’m not ashamed! All of the money in the fountain is donated to Caritas, an Italian charity. And according to BBC News in 2006, an estimated 3,000 euros was collected each night.

All of these sights were seen on our first active day here (after we caught up on sleep from our night without it). Of course we ended that day with pizza – pizza is the best way to end any day! And I’ve eaten it a bunch of times since then…I’ve got some pictures to prove it. But I’ll save that for a blog post entirely dedicated to the delicious food we’ve consumed since stepping on Italian soil.

Until then, wish us luck on covering everything we’ve missed in the two days we have left!

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So Long, Amsterdam

It’s February 3rd and today we dropped off ~80 lbs of our stuff with one of the people who’s helping us “figure it out.” Her name is Lindsay, she’s one of my cousin’s best friends, and she’s offered to help store a lot of the extra crap we brought that we totally regret packing into our suitcases. It feels good to have less things to be responsible for and keep track of. Shoutout to Lindsay & Stefan for making our lives a thousand times easier!

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Wus Good

Our last night in Amsterdam creeped up on me. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been MIA because I’ve been doing a little extra housekeeping with myself and my belongings. Not only did I have to part ways with the items I didn’t want to say goodbye to in the first place, but we’re still planning the rest of this weird trip we’ve embarked on.

No, we’re not staying in Amsterdam like we first thought…for now. BUT, I am not going to ignore the option of coming back for grad school in September. It’s something I’ve been tossing around in my head, and I think missing Amsterdam in a few days will make me want to do it more. I’m not making any decisions yet…I still have some time before that.

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Used my time and money wisely @ Caffe Milo

Because this is our last night in Amsterdam before we leave our apartment in Amsterdam-Zuid, I’d like to catch you up on some other tourist activities we’ve done before I go on and spoil where we’re heading next.

I Ate a Pannekoek

This week, Shannon found out she has a friend who’s killin’ the travel life and his name is Kevin. He’s in Europe networking to build his career and knocking out a degree at the same time – shoutout to you Kevin for putting in work! What better situation to meet up with him than to get pancakes, right?

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We found Pancakes.Amsterdam using iamsterdam.com, which has been a really good guide for us on this month-long experience. Pancakes is located right by Centraal Station and is ranked #2 on the Top 10 Pancake Restaurants in Amsterdam. The dish surprised me because I didn’t quite realize what a pannekoek was before we got there.

My idea of a pancake is the classic American flapjack stack…or even the teeny ones Shan got that day at Albert Cuypmarkt. Both are sweet and fluffy. As you can see from the picture below, Dutch pancakes are a lil different from what I’m used to.

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Traditional ham & cheese pannekoek, just like the one I got

Pannekoeks are thinner than an American pancake, thicker than a crêpe, and bigger than the plate. I would say it had a sort of hash brown consistency (though it’s not made of potatoes) and it came in sweet or savory. At Pancakes.Amsterdam, popular styles are with ham and cheese, bacon and cheese, ham and apple, or bacon and apple. The sweet and savory is not my favorite combo, so I stuck with something I felt comfortable with.

If you’re wondering, I just about ate the entire thing. #ShanVsFood

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The Smallest House in Amsterdam

Thanks to a YouTube video with 15 of A’dam’s hidden gems, Shan O discovered the narrowest house in Amsterdam. Though there are a lot of slim buildings in this city, none compare to the little guy that holds the record…unless it’s not really the smallest house in Amsterdam but they bought a very clever trademark…hmm…🤔

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Guess the dimensions of that thing.

Just guess.

Have a guestimate in mind?

Ready for the answer?

2.02 meters (6 feet 8 inches) wide and 5 meters (16 feet 5 inches) deep.

Wtf! How could somebody live there? Who thought that was a reasonable size for a home in the first place? It looked crazy cramped. I really wanted to see how uncomfortable it was to be inside of, but it was closed. ☹️

Proost!

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Let’s play another guessing game – guess what’s inside of that building called Wynand Fockink? ⬆️

If you’re not familiar with Amsterdam or the Dutch, then your mind probably went to a dirty place. The rest of us know it’s a famous distillery that serves the oh-so famous Dutch gin aka genever.

“Genever is the juniper-flavored national and traditional liquor of the Netherlands and Belgium, from which gin evolved.”

-thx Wikipedia

I saw this place on Anthony Bourdain’s 24 Hours in Amsterdam: The Layover, in the YouTube video mentioned earlier, and had a few others suggest this tasting. Let’s be real, Bourdain alone makes it worthy of experiencing.

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Here’s a cheesy stock photo of some young twenty-somethings drinking genever the proper way. It’s traditionally filled to the brim, so it’s custom to bend your butt over to sip genever to ensure it won’t spill when you pick it up – making the taste of strong alcohol last longer with baby sips – yum!

Shan, Kevin & I tasted two genevers: one that resembled vodka and one that had something fancy involving bourbon. We all decided on the bourbon. As I gave my full glass a tiny taste I tried to stay down a millisecond longer so I could get the repulsed expression off of my face before anyone saw. I genuinely don’t think it tasted bad, but my body reacts to all kinds of hard alcohol like I just ingested the nastiest thing in my life. Somehow I made it through the entire tiny cup.

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A’dam All in All

Being able to immerse ourselves into Amsterdam to the degree that we have has been a mind-blowing experience. It’s given me space to have crazy fun, to learn more about myself, and to remember how extremely grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve been #blessed with.

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Tying back to the fact that we left our stuff with a friend in Amsterdam – we’re coming back for them! There are still some things on our to-do list (like Keukenhof) and I can’t wait to knock em off in late March/early April before we leave the Schengen Area.

Now you’re probably wondering where we’re going next…

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We’re Going to Rome!

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At 4 o’clock in the morning we’re parting ways with Kevin and Amsterdam, and we’re leaving for the beautiful city of Roma.

Why Rome?

For the reasons we loved Amsterdam! It’s rich with history, culture, and places to be discovered. Beginning the moment we arrive, I’ll try my best to share our adventures in Italy with you.

Ciao!

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And if you’re wondering why there aren’t more pictures from me/my phone, it’s because it got taken at a nightclub in Rembrandtplein. I’ll never see it again 😢 but I’ll try to be better with the actual camera from now on for more pics!

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We Arrived in Brussels

Here’s what we checked off the Brussels tourist list thus far:

Manneken Pis

Why is this the main attraction of Brussels? What makes this special?

The answer is we don’t effing know. We walked up to this bad boy with no expectations and found a tiny statue of a boy peeing with barely a description as to why.

Here’s what we learned from the info provided: The little statue was erected at the end of the Middle Ages when the city of Brussels was in the process of developing a public water supply network up until the mid-19th century, this fountain played a vital role in the city’s drinking water supply system. The original stone statue was replaced in the 17th century. Then a bronze model was commissioned by the municipal authorities from the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder…interesting…

La Grand Place

The Grand Place

Of course, we went to the Grand Place of Brussels. It’s a cornerstone of culture, history, and food (on paper). Does it surprise you that we immediately bought chocolate, a beer tasting, and a waffle right afterwards? HELL NAH!

Sadly, we walked the streets of Brussels like it was Amsterdam and expected a bar and a tattoo parlor on every block, but instead we found normal buildings…like corporate buildings and stores with clothing we can’t afford. It was then and there we decided to make this mostly about the food

We haven’t ventured far beyond our boundaries yet. But until we do, I’ll be petting the weird black cat that’s in our AirBnB that’s more like a hostel than a hotel.

Thanks!

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Stroop, There It Is!

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around.

National Tulip Day

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NTD is a celebration that kicks off tulip season in the Netherlands, and it happens in Dam Square on the third January of every year. For those of you familiar with the beauty that is Keukenhof, you understand that tulips are something that deserve a big splash of attention. The Square is filled with about 200,000 tulips that are up for grabs for whoever gets there in time to snag a spot in line before they’re all gone.

We were told about this event from a new friend met here in A’dam (shoutout to you Sonny!) and were so excited to check it out – SO excited that we didn’t think about the thousands of others who had the same plans for their Saturday morning. We thought we could stroll in, pick a tulip, maybe get a cute Insta while pulling the flower up from the crate, and go on our merry way into the day. Boy were we wrong.

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This picture doesn’t even do the crowd justice. This was only half the square and it was cut off from the line of hundreds of people waiting to get in. Shan and I only got to peek in because they offered a platform to watch the smart ones who arrived early posing for pics while picking their tulips. This platform was also uncomfortably crowded and someone was coughing on me while I took this picture #doitfortheblog.

Albert Cuyp Market

Our next stop was one of the places I’ve been the most curious about visiting – Albert Cuypmarkt (Cuyp is pronounced like “cowp” – I messed that up in our video). This market happens to be conveniently located near the Heineken Factory in the neighborhood known as De Pijp.

It’s been one of Amsterdam’s most popular markets since it began in 1904, and has been featured on many travel shows…so yeah, that’s where I got the idea to go. BUT, it was the fresh stroopwafels I saw with the drool-worthy caramel pull (1:21 in the video) that motivated me to get off my butt and venture off to this new place.

Boy am I happy I did…try to keep it in your pants because the following content is straight up food porn:

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Mini mother-effing pancakes with Nutella
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STROOP there it is!

Sweets aren’t the only things Albert Cuyp has to offer – vendors sell everything from fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish and spices to clothes, cosmetics and bedding – all of which I resisted because ya girl’s still unemployed.

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The Heineken Experience

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Next stop was the first Heineken brewery (est. 1864). We’ve received many recommendations from friends and family to go on the tour and learn the perfect pour, so that’s exactly what we did. It began with the history of the creator of Heineken, Gerard Adriaan Heineken, and continued with more about his grandson, Freddy, and other key people who made Heineken as refined and famous as it is today.

2 things that blew my mind about Heineken:

  1. It was one of the first brands to boil beer down to a science. Scientists relied on chemistry to experiment and master the perfect brew, which was revolutionary for its time.
  2. Many of the Heineken men who drove the brand received multiple medals and awards from different countries – not for their beer, but for their service to the world.

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The tour turns from history to good-ole-fashioned fun with interactive toys, games, and samples, of course. It ends with the two beers you get included with your entrance ticket (€16 per person) in a club-style atmosphere and another great view of the city.

Check out some of the other souvenirs we walked away with:

The following video is a bit odd:

What did we do after the Heineken factory? Grabbed a six pack of Heineken, of course. It was just the beginning to our night out in the Red Light District, which I’ll share more about once I can wrap my head around what I witnessed there.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic day and enjoyed reading!

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Fun fact: I once wrote a business plan for an ice cream shoppe named Scoop, There It Is! in my Intro to Management class. It was the coolest theoretical hangout ever out ever & you best believe I got an A.


Have a favorite flower? Ever been to a famous market? What’s the best brewery tour you’ve been on? We’re interested! Comment below to share them with us 🙂

From a Temple to the Moon

Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.

He Hua Temple – Fo Guang Shan

We found ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to find in Amsterdam.

Located in Chinatown, the He Hua Temple is a hidden gem among the skinny streets that pretty much all look the same.

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Established in 2000

We only went in for about ten minutes – ten peaceful minutes. The incense relaxed our minds as we soaked up information like the reasons why this temple was built in the Netherlands:

  • To spread the Buddhist concepts, also by means of cultural exchanges and activities;
  • To help to develop talents, skills and good qualities of people by means of good education;
  • To stimulate positive developments in society by means of charity projects;
  • To purify heart and soul of all people by giving them the opportunity of learning to practice Buddhism.
Cited from http://ibps.nl/he-hua-temple/

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Amsterdam Noord

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To get to Amsterdam Noord (North), one must take a free ferry by Central Station to cross the itty-bit of water that rests between the two land masses. Why is there no bridge? According to Anthony Bourdain’s tour guide in the Amsterdam episode of The Layover, he thinks “they” used to ship the crazy people and criminals over there hundreds of years ago. I guess they didn’t want them coming back…who knows. I admit the change in transportation was quite refreshing and welcomed by our aching feet.

By now I’ve read many blogs and tourist sites – only some of which mention Amsterdam Noord. Though we’ve only experienced two of its main attractions, I already recommend taking a day trip to see what it has to offer.

A’DAM Lookout

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In order to get to the top of the Lookout, the price of regular admission is‎ €12.50. I promise it’s well worth it if you like a gorgeous view. Included in your ticket is a free photo, like this one:

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The building features a sky deck, Europe’s tallest swing on the sky deck, and an indoor lookout spot which doubles as a bar. Oh yeah, there’s a Gibson throne, too 🎸👑

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Here’s some pics from the sky deck:

More shots from the indoors where it was warm:

Nestled on the opposite side of the bar were TVs and headphones full of info about Amsterdam. Here’s what I found to be the coolest tidbits:

Fun facts about Amsterdam & The Netherlands

  • There are more bikes than people.
  • 10,000 bikes are fished out of the canals a year.
  • As one of the most diverse cities in the world, it’s home to over 175 nationalities.
  • Holland was the first nation to legalize gay marriage, abortion, and euthanasia.

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Perhaps the most incredible part of the city is the way the sun sets over it.

Eye Film Museum

When the sky grew dark, we headed over to the A’DAM Lookout’s next-door neighbor, the Eye Film Museum. There was no exhibition at the time, but we were able to experience the bottom level for a few hours where we indulged ourselves with some fun facts about – you guessed it – film!

Flipbook

You can make your own if you want to pay like €6 for it – we didn’t.

Artifacts

The artifacts on display represent the evolution of film – from stereoscopy to a zoetrope to a Mitchell to an iPhone 3 (which was the first smartphone to be able to record a quality video) and all that’s in-between.

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Fun fact: George Lucas used a Mitchell VistaVision High Speed #1 to film Star Wars.

360°

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This is blurry but whatevs.

I was really hoping to see some 360 videos in here, but instead found a bunch of clips from monumental films that showcased the development of genres and styles of different cultures. Still cool.

Speaking of 360, I will have a VR video for you folks soon 😉

Private, Comfy Pods

There are little nooks where you can sit down and watch some of the most famous Dutch films of all time, which range from 10 minutes to an hour in length. We chose Zoo by Bert Haanstra (1962) – a silent film that still managed to make us giggle through a subtle string of events.

The Green Screen

Last but not least, there was a green screen that we had waaay too much fun with. See for yourself!

We used the green screen until the museum closed at 7 pm because that’s how much fun we were having.

After heading home, we slumped in our seats and didn’t move for seven hours. There’s no better way to end an adventurous day than brain-dumping it into a blog post until 3 am!

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Are there any views that leave you in awe? Movies that move you more than others? Comment below to share them with us! We’re always looking for recommendations 🙂