Samara O'Shea

Going Dutch

Travel Tales Part Two: After jumping from city to small town to city in Ireland, it felt good to put my bags down at the hotel in Amsterdam knowing I wasn’t going to have to pick them up again for four days. Going in, I knew the two things that most people know about Amsterdam: pot and prostitution are legal. Other than that, I was open to discovery. My first (and favorite) realization was the gorgeous city itself. When one thinks aesthetically pleasing European city, Paris and Rome come to mind. To my pleasant surprise, Amsterdam can architecturally hold its own also. While there is no Effie Tower or Colosseum, the canals are a unique wonder (albeit a bit smaller), and the buildings are striking.

Fun Fact*: The staircases in Amsterdam are insanely steep. I’m talking ladder steep. At the top of every building is a large hook (not really visible in the pics below, sorry). This is how furniture is moved in and out—attached to the hook and through the window.

*This is a not-so-fun fact if you are wearing stilettos or intoxicated. Woe is you if you are wearing stilettos and intoxicated.

Some photos:

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A canal at twilight.

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A canal at lunchtime.

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A canal blessed with my presence.

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The Dutch are friendly folk.

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Wooden shoes galore.

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I had to try a pair on.

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We saw this beauty on a bike tour through the countryside. If you go to Amsterdam, go on the bike tour. The terrain is flat, so even if you’re not the best biker you’ll be fine.

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The Van Gogh Museum is the best single-artist museum I’ve ever been to, and I haven’t been so awestruck by an artist’s versatility since the Frida Kahlo exhibit was in Philadelphia. I also discovered that VG was quite the letter writer. I’ll let you know if I read anything good.

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Getting ready for the World Cup.

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It was a treat to be in Amsterdam on World Cup day. Despite the eventual loss, I’ve never seen an entire city so excited. I got completely caught up in the national pride—even if it belonged to another nation. I also visited the Anne Frank House (of course!). I wrote about that moving experience for .