I have finally returned back to the UK and am curled up in my bed, content with nowhere to go. BUT, just yesterday I was still in Amsterdam, Netherlands. And before that I was in Salzburg, Austria. Let’s do a quick recap, shall we?
The main reason for going to Salzburg after I had already seen Vienna was for one reason and one reason only. The Sound of Music. This iconic film was shot in the center and countryside of this beautiful city. I arrived there on a Wednesday after the most stunning views on the train from Ljubljana.
I wandered throughout the city and bought a ticket to go on a four-hour-long Sound of Music tour the next morning. Only a tour for my all time favorite movie would justify me waking at 7 and paying 40 euro. Every second was worth it. As it was off-season, instead of 4 huge buses the rest of the travelers and I were able to pile into one van.
Together we saw the lake where Julie Andrews and the Von Trap kids fell into the water,
the front of the house where Maria flounced to the front door with ‘confidence’,
the gazebo where the iconic ‘sixteen going on seventeen’ dance and song was filmed,
and finally the church in which Andrews and the Captain were married.
This tour and the wonderful people who joined me fulfilled every childhood dream (almost). It snowed like crazy most of the time, making some aspects of viewing difficult, but overall it just added to the charm. We even ate apple strudel at the same cafe the cast did across from the church.
I was only in Salzburg for two fairly uneventful nights before it was time to bid the city adieu and catch an early flight to Amsterdam.
This was it. The final destination. I had started my journey in London to see The Kooks and I was to end it in Amsterdam to see Hozier. To lead up to the concert, I had booked four nights at Hostel Van Gogh located right in the museum quarter. Amsterdam was the only destination in which I would be meeting a friend. I invited Kivanc, a UK exchange friend from Turkey, yet he was unable to meet me on the first day due to visa delays. So the first day of city exploration was left to me.
The first thing I noticed was that Amsterdam is obsessed with various things outside of the well-known leafy green plant.
Below are just a few things the Dutch can’t get enough of:
- Waffles. Particularly stroopwafel (which is cracker-like waffley goodness with a caramel center). Or big sugar coated pieces of heaven.
- Nutella. Oh my goodness Nutella was everywhere. It paired especially well with waffles but also took great joy in being involved with cookies, crepes, donuts, macaroons and ice cream. All of which could be found at one of the various Ice Bakeries.
- Cheese. Cheese everywhere. And yes it was damn good. Trying to pick one out for a wine and cheese dinner served almost impossible.
- H&M. This one I found rather ridiculous. You could not walk a hundred meters without running into an H&M. They all sold the same thing, were all huge, and were all always packed.
- Coffeeshops. And not the kind for drinking coffee (although you could at many of the places). When first arriving in the city I was surprised that I din’t see many, but as soon as I crossed over the bridge into the center I soon saw the light.
- Bicycles. I’m surprised I’m still alive to tell this story after the amount of close calls I had. These bicyclists are so aggressive. It is your job to get out of their way. Kivanc and I both have PTSD from the sound of their vigorous bell ringing.
At night I went out to dinner with the other guys in my hostel dorm and later watched the youngest of us all create a pyramid from cheap beer cans. *Ah the college life*
The next morning when Kivanc arrived we spent the day walking the entire city, getting lost due to ‘someones’ false sense of direction *cough cough his* and trying to avoid being flattened by bikes and cars. We also wandered throughout the Red Light District and all I have to say for that is 1) I’m glad I had a buddy and 2) I have never seen so many sexual displays in my life.
The next day was much like the first except add on the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. The Van Gogh Museum was wonderful. He did so many paintings in his short 37 years of life. It’s true that some of the most talented are also the most mad.
As expected, the 9 euro to get into the Anne Frank house was worth every penny. I had read her diary all the way back in 7th grade and it was fascinating to more clearly picture her circumstance and learn about how her writing has struck the world. The whole experience was powerful and heartbreaking and I had never climbed steeper steps in my life. If you have the opportunity to, go. Some lessons of acceptance and hope never grow old.
That night I ventured off to the Heineken Music Hall to see Hozier. The concert was opened up by Rhodes (who is also wonderful) and lasted about 2 hours. It was a short concert overall as Hozier only played for an hour, but it was well worth it. All my favorite songs were played and he really put on a good show. Also his band had the most badass cellist whose cello gleamed black in the purple light as she played on. It was all so beautiful and Hozier gave each band member the recognition they deserved. Like the guitarist who played guitar, sang, and rocked the keyboards all at the same time.
After that fourth night, Kivanc and I headed to the airport together in a sleepy haze to catch our separate flights back to England. It was all very bittersweet. Neither of us wanted to leave. In fact, my heart still longs to travel. While I am still technically in a foreign country I feel at home. I want to keep moving and never stop discovering all that there is. Yet, time and money don’t always let me have my way.
This has truly been the journey of a lifetime. I have gained so many new stories, new friends, an new lessons about the world. As corny as that sounds, it’s true. Traveling on my own has made me feel so surrounded by love and acceptance. Peace. And that is what I have been searching for. It is something that I will never stop working for; peace of mind and heart and positivity that radiates from within.
For now I will spend the next month back here in Sheffield tying up loose ends and seeing what last there is to see.
Until then, ciao.