We’ve mentioned Rembrandt Square/Rembrandtplein plenty of times since we’ve been here. It’s a beautiful bustling area 30 seconds from our apartment.
One of our favorite things to do is to see the square at night. It’s got history, pubs, restaurants, and gay clubs! Have a look at the area for yourself.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with 360 vids: When you’re watching the video, use your mouse to click and scroll around 360 degrees in any direction. That way, you can view what we’re seeing first hand!
For those of you who are VR savvy: Pop your phone into your goggles and come meet us in Amsterdam! What are you waiting for?
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.
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/
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.
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!
You can make your own if you want to pay like €6 for it – we didn’t.
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.
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!
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 🙂
I really enjoyed this museum. It made me feel stupid for not having known more about one of the most famous artists of all time. Am I the only one who was unclear about the whole cutting-off-ear-and-dying-two-years later thing? Let me break some things down for you.
Vincent’s Thug Life
Here’s how the major events went down:
1880 – Age 27: Decided to ditch mining to become an artist.
1888 – Age 35: Started to go crazy and cut his ear off.
1890 – Age 37: Shot himself in the chest with a pistol. Died two days later.
If you’re like me, you’re probably shocked at how quickly his fate turned from hopeful to hopeless. Like…wait a minute. I thought he was so eager for life and success, right? So what made him go from motivated painter to someone medicated by the paint brush in just 10 years?
Aside from the progression of his work, his letters allow you to peek inside his brain and feel what he was experiencing throughout his life. His attitude reads like a somber appreciation for the simple things – he communicated his preference for bare branches and mute meadows over the complex city life. And when he began to feel threatened by his uncontrollable thoughts, we grieved the demise of his self-control as if he were our friend.
The Truth Behind How He Became Successful
I want to include a few other things that shocked me that I didn’t know before:
Vincent lived off a monthly allowance from his brother, Theo – an art dealer – for the 10 years he was an artist.
Vincent died before he flourished.
Theo was determined to honor Vincent when he died, but Theo died 6 months after Vincent.
Theo’s wife Jo and son Willem are responsible Vincent becoming mega-famous.
Heavy Hearts and Hungry Tummies
The museum left an impression on us as we walked back to our apartment. We were flustered and therefore missed an opportunity to experiment with Dutch cuisine. We chose the barestaurant down the street from our apartment, and we were disappointed to find it had mostly American food as well as endless amounts of American sport’s decor.
I caved and ordered chicken wings. Sorry guys, no pix of them beeeecause what a terrible choice that was! I mean, they weren’t bad…they just weren’t J. Timothy’s 😫💔😢💭🍗
So, I solemnly swear to order something Dutch the next time we eat something other than the groceries we already bought. Btw, let me give a shoutout to arguably the BEST chocolate milk I might ever have in my lifetime, Chocomel 👏🏼 Screw you and thank you for being so addicting.
I’ll catch you guys up on the next museum and adventurous activity in the next post.
Ever been to the Van Gogh Museum? Have a favorite art piece you’d like to share with us? Tell us by commenting below!
Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.
We’re covering more and more of the city each day.
It’s been a few days since we’ve done these things so I promise to be better about keeping up with this blog. These pictures below will do a lot of the talking for me, so feel free to skip the sap, scroll through them, and then head onto the next post.
Look at this thing! This giant wonderland was founded in 1800 and is rich with art and history – because the two go hand in hand (duh). I was in awe with the size of the museum and its collection, and here I’ll share with you some pieces that caught my eye.
A Few of My Favorijks Things
The main attraction:
Three fun facts about The Night Watch:
The artist – Rembrandt – is a famous Dutch artist and this is his most popular painting.
Ironically, I don’t know how to get this video to shrink.
Jan Willem Pieneman, The Battle of Waterloo, 1824
A pretty outdoorsy landscape:
Ugh…I found Herbert (our mouse, who we saw yesterday):
And here’s the most beautiful thing I saw in the entire museum…my reflection: 😉
I’m extremely glad we checked this place out first. Through the magnificent storytelling of visuals and guides, I’m beginning to further understand this place we chose to venture off to and the history that made it what it is today.
After seeing the attempts to capture Holland’s beautiful violet skies, it was cool to get a glimpse of the magic that night:
Right behind the Rijksmuseum is the ever-so-famous I amsterdam sign. Would we have really gone to Amsterdam if we didn’t take this tourist pic?
Dinner in Style
To round out our productive day, Shan and experienced a lovely, chic wine-and-dine thanks to one of our dearest friends, Frank (@frankroche, not the kitty Frank 🐱) – it’s called Supperclub, where we ate and partied (and looked good) in bed.
When we first got there, the hostess covered our phone cameras with stickers and warned us not to use our phones at all. There were even characters crawling around with flashlights making sure we were following the rule. Funny enough, we met some really cool people on both sides of our setup and enjoyed the company around us. Europeans are so interesting, hah. We lived large with the cuisine and cocktails, and we enjoyed entertainment that was meticulously bursting with unsaid messages. Our dinner turned into dancing and the night disappeared before we knew it. Thank you Frank!
Needless to say we spent the next day recovering – until Monday when we went back to the Museum Quarter for more.
Stay tuned to see which museums we hit up next!
Any suggestions on what Shan and I should do next? We’re interested in your recommendations! While you’re at it, feel free to share some of your own experiences by leaving a comment. 🙂 Subscribe to get notified the next time a post is published!
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted and there’s been a weird reason why.
I know it’s only week #1, but I’ve been homesick! Kind of. Well, I’m physically sick with a sore throat, and I’ve been confused as hell over what I came here to do.
Not sure how many of you guys are into astrological signs…
I’m a Taurus (if you disregard that new weird sign that’s popped up over the past year). According to astrology-zodiac-signs.com (which I’ve never used, but the definition is consistent with all other resources I’ve used), here’s how to describe my sign:
“They love everything that is good and beautiful, and they are often surrounded by material pleasures. People born under the Taurus sign are very sensual and tactile. Touch is extremely important for them, both in business and in romance. Stable and conservative, Taurus is among the most reliable signs of the zodiac.”
Check out those keywords I’ve so graciously bolded for you. Those are the characteristics I identify with that are making me feel extremely out of my comfort zone. I crave security, my support system, and a strong sense of purpose. Neither of those things are with me today in Amsterdam, but I’m learning to accept that I don’t need them.
I’ve had to ask myself a few questions:
By coming here, what did I expect to do?
How will this impact my life?
What do I desire to change?
How can I improve myself?
Who do I want to become?
What do I want to go back with?
I didn’t come here to party. I didn’t come here to feel homesick. I came here to give myself a fair shot at becoming a better person by having the space to do it, and that’s what I intend to do.
Yeah, I’m still sort of freaking out about my future a bit because I know how difficult it can be to get a job. I’ve fumbled through ideas of grad school and going back to where I was working before I came here, but those thoughts are premature and impeding my ability to be present in the moment – right here, right now.
So, that that mushy stuff being said, let me update you on what we’ve been up to 😁
Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.
…I can write a post about how it’s been adjusting to being in the city. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve already had a few waves of homesickness.
We’ve had our fair share of the nightlife thus far. When you’re six hours off from what you’re used to, you wake up late in the morning – or early afternoon in our case. I think we deserved ourselves a bit of fun to kick our adventure off right.
Night #2 started at the bar across the street.
Inside was a drunk man named Kevin who insisted he was gay but proceeded to hit on us and try to kiss our cheeks. He may or may not have stuck his tongue out at us, and it wasn’t in a childish way. Don’t worry, it wasn’t just us. He did it to everyone in the bar…including the owner who was drunk off his ass on a Wednesday night. The other folks inside the bar included the bartender, another bar employee, and a man gambling his money away at a machine that was not being very nice to him.
Though I don’t remember their names, I remember everything about them.
First, I spoke with the other bar employee who has a brown ponytail and beard. I could barely hear him over the Dutch music reverberating off of the shiny foil-looking walls, but he told me he was from Romania and had lived in Amsterdam for 11 years. Apparently he came for a week’s visit with his friends and never went back. I’ve always wanted to meet someone who said “fuck it” that way, especially since this transition hasn’t been an easy one for me. I admire the way of the nomad – free to go wherever they’re drawn to rather than being stunted by the attachment to one place. It’s currently something I’m trying to master.
He pointed me toward the corner where another employee was curled up asleep in bed. This guy’s job was to be ridiculously cute.
Okay, so the cat lady in me got out before I could stop her. This little nugget had piercing blue eyes and a thing for walking on the bar, and he almost fell asleep in my arms! My Romanian friend pictured above on the left told me he likes to call him “Friend”…which I misheard, so I called him Frank (shoutout to you, Frank!)
While I was drooling over kitty Frank, Shannon was making friends with the bartender. She only bartends two nights a week, and for the rest of the time she’s an office manager and is running her own business of being a stylist. She told us that Shannon’s color is coral, and that I’m a bottle-green or cherry. “It’s all about the subtle accents,” she said. Nails, lips, jewelry…all of these things go with a white blouse and black pants or jeans. I asked her where she was when I packed all of the other unnecessary shit in my suitcase.
Because we were wide awake at midnight, we ventured into the Square again.
We walked around a few blocks to get to know the area and look for an ATM. Neither things happened, but we did find a cool McDonald’s where you pay on an LCD menu screen you’re ordering on. We also ran into two guys from Texas who said “y’all” many times. They had come to Amsterdam to indulge in the greenery.
We found a bar that was open late named Woody’s, which we quickly discovered was a gay bar. The bartender poured us fireball shots that tasted like jaeger while putting his entire mouth around his glass of beer and knocking it back. People were dressed up in togas and singing Whitney Houston. All of it reminded me of college.
Our last and final stop was a tourist bar, Prime. Not gonna lie, I loved the familiar music that I could understand and dance to, but the best part about it was the free drinks we got from our new friends from the U.K.
All in all, we stayed up too late and missed half of another day because of it. Yesterday we wandered around aimlessly and visited the Red Light District before 10 pm, which we may go back to tonight to see it in its true late-night form. More to come on that one and the Rijksmuseum we visited today 😁
Peep the video, then read the post…or do it the other way around. Whatever.
Day 2 started at 2 pm because that’s when we woke up.
We messed up a bit and didn’t set our alarms to adjust to the time change. But like, we were 30 hours deep without sleep so I think we allowed ourselves some catching up.
It’s already getting dark and we haven’t left the apartment. My eager self wants to go back into the sparkling city streets and check out all of the wonderful reasons we chose this city, but my adult self is creating and organizing our social media pages and content while looking for a place to live in February. Here’s what we’ve been told about getting an apartment:
The city is so tiny and crowded that even Netherland natives have a hard time finding a place to live, let alone an outsider looking for a 2-month gig. It can take months to find what you’re looking for and have someone give you a chance.
Let’s go back to that concept of “figuring it out” for a minute.
“Figuring it out” is code word for “someone helping us” from now on. Here are our current leads on apartments and other important things we need in order to get settled, thanks to the people looking out for us:
We’re included in a group on Facebook that is for buying/selling apartments and rooms for rent, which is a popular way to nail something down. This is a place where you’ve got to know people in order to make it. Friendliness has gone a long way so far.
We’ve messaged one seller so far about a private room near Westerpark and had a friend send along the contact info of a landlord her friend used not too long ago. We’ve got our eyes on other prospects, too!
Side note: The apartment we’re staying in now is conveniently placed by Rembrandt Square but it’s too expensive to continue on with. Also, I saw a fucking mouse scurry across the floor and I’m going to lose my mind and this owner’s future business if it doesn’t get resolved ASAP.
Places to eat
I will definitely be sharing these as we visit them, but here’s the first one we’ve gone to so far:
It apparently has the best ribs in the city, which is all I needed to know before we went. Google led us to this location, and a message from a friend solidified our it as our choice of a first meal.
We walked into the dimly lit restaurant/bar, sort of like what you’d see at Bar Taco on a Tuesday night. The place was decently packed, the music was bumping, and the menus were barely legible – which is the true mark of a happenin’ hipster joint. The walls were covered with modest cannibal-esque items: vintage weaponry, tribal masks, and other interesting themed decor. Did I mention this is right next to Dampkring, one of the most famous coffee shops in the city?
Our waitress was incredibly friendly and helpful – not to mention beautiful, which is something we’re beginning to notice. Everyone here is so hot! 🔥 We’re hoping assimilation works on physiques (or lack of), too. Which brings us to the next thing…
A reliable bike shop
It welcomes repairs for up to two months after purchase, and we’re going there tomorrow. 🚲 We’re coming for you, Bike is Ready!
This is only Day 2 and I think we’re doing a LOT better than we were before. In between “figuring it out” and actually trying to settle, we’ve been enjoying the true beauty this city has to offer. We already feel like we’re home. It’s so easy to walk around here like you belong while exploring the squares and trying new things.
Here’s a pic of Shan in the middle of the memoriam at Rembrandtplein aka Rembrandt Square:
When we have some stories of our daytime adventures, we’ll be sure to post ’em here. Stay tuned for more!
I’m sitting on our grey L-shaped couch of the AirBnB slobbering up one of the 100 Grand candy bars that managed to make it all the way to Amsterdam with us…the rest of the snacks didn’t have a chance. THANK GOD this chocolate is with me right now because if I didn’t have these…so help me God.
I need a minute to indulge as I recuperate from the past eyebrow-twitch-worthy 24 hours we endured from the moment we left the United States. I have not slept, I’ve eaten garbage that’s tasted like garbage, and I need a shower and a nap.
It all started when we checked our bags in at Newark, NJ around 2:30 pm. I was the lucky gal to discover the hidden fees of this stupid little airline called WOW (I’m sure it’s because of all the fun surprise charges!) and paid $120 for how freakin’ heavy my bag was. I’ll admit I overpacked…but should I pay $20/kg for this horrible mistake I’m still dealing with? I don’t think so…because wait until you hear what else these kilograms made me deal with.
The first flight was cool – we boarded at 6 pm and sat next to a cop from Brooklyn and another cop and a pilot. We had great conversations, exchanged weird stories you’d only tell someone you’d never see again, and landed in Iceland in time to transfer to our flight to Amsterdam. I watched a Bob Marley documentary and I didn’t sleep a wink.
The flight to Amsterdam consisted of a crying baby and someone listening to Beyoncé too loudly. I didn’t sleep on that flight either, and we flew into the sunrise of 5-degree weather of the Netherlands sleepy and unprepared for what was next.
When we landed, we talked with the woman next to us who was in the middle of an extravagant holiday. The guy across the aisle made conversation with her, and so we met Aidan.
I’m pretty sure Aidan is synonym for Angel because this guy was sent from above. He’s from Washington, D.C., and he got us from the airport to the Central Station to the metro to Rembrandtplein, which is right near our temporary home. I know I summarized all of those things into one sentence, but that would’ve taken us ALL fucking DAY if it weren’t for this guy. Aidan, if you ever read this…good karma is going to bring you some reallllly good shit.
“You guys don’t travel often, do you?” – Aidan
He chose to spend his day helping the two clueless tourists who brought one 50 lb luggage too many – each – and patiently waited for our huffing-puffing selves to make it across the platforms and the escalators and everywhere else we traveled this morning. AND he offered to help us find bartending jobs at one of his regular spots! We friended him on Facebook and plan to meet up with him later on tonight when we look and feel like normal human beings.
When we found our apartment, a nice young man helped us carry our 50 lb bags up two steep-ass flights of stairs. Generous me only had like €2 in my pocket after spending the €20 from Steph’s cute card on transportation, so I gave the poor guy a $10 bill that is absolutely useless to him. If you thought Shan and I would be smart enough to have gone to the ATM or converted some currency before this point, guess again!!!
I think the way today unfolded is one of those circumstances people allude to when they say “you’ll figure it out” without actually knowing how. Shannon and I didn’t know how we were going to figure it out, and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time with a generous stranger and an easygoing kid. I wonder how many times that’s going to work until our luck runs out, but add that to the list of things we’ll “figure out“.
To the friends and family reading this rant – I hope the worst of it is over. Typing this now already makes it into a funny story, so at least something good came out of it.
Our objectives are to:
Find a place for February.
Get a job. (Maybe that will be solved tonight when we meet back up with Angel? I mean Aidan 😉)
Ship some of these kilos home or straight up get rid of them – because I am NOT going through the same sweaty struggle it took to get where I am right now. My arms are currently jello.
I’m writing from the backseat of Shannon’s dad’s car listening to Shannon talk about how she knows Barcelona like the back of her hand. We’re en route to the airport: Newark, NJ, USA ➡️ Amsterdam, North Holland, NL
My mind is somewhere else, though. It’s back home in Cheshire wrapped in my mom’s arms in the kitchen full of my luggage.
I can’t believe we’re on our way. The day finally arrived to get on the plane (which is already delayed by a half hour, by the way). I’m trying not to freak out by keeping my mind busy, and that’s half the reason why I’m writing this post. My tummys tumbling all over the highway.
To all of our readers who have followed up until this point, and the ones who are just dropping in…get ready for a major shift. This day marks the start of a transformation – one I will try my best to share with you. These posts are for you. This is where I need your help.
What do you want to know? What parts of this experience am I neglecting to record? What are you excited to hear about once this thing is in full swing? I’d appreciate your input to make this blog one worth following in the future 😁
For now, I’ll try to keep my iced coffee down in Mr. O’Connor’s Acura.
My room is still a disaster, but I’ve had no choice but to begin organizing it. My mom is helping and Brittany’s been hanging around making weird noises, so I guess it’s not so bad.
I can’t stop thinking about last night.
I have never felt the strange combination and force of feelings like I did while I was with the people that mean the most to me (who were in Connecticut). Oblivious me thought I was going on a dinner date with my best friend Julie, and to my surprise I walked into a room with my some of favorite people on this earth…and they were there for me.
Sneaky, sneaky Julie plotted the entire evening consisting of dinner at the Vic House, a popular Cheshire spot, and cake back at my place…meaning my parents and sisters were in on it the whole time! I don’t know why, but I thought they’d be worse at keeping surprises a secret.
Every single moment of it was perfect, and I even have a souvenir to show for it. Courtney, my soul sister since birth, made a journal with some old pictures of us and had everyone sign it. I haven’t read it yet because I already cried enough yesterday for the entire weekend.
These are my people right here in this picture. They are the ones who squeezed me goodbye with their support osmosising into my tear ducts. These are the ones I’m going to miss so incredibly much.
Thankful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel towards them. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a loving bunch of weirdos, but I’ll try to keep it up in my journeys ahead.
I love you all with all my heart. Thank you for making this difficult. 😉