I have been so busy in the past 5 days! Thursday, I spent a full day in Malmö, Sweden. It felt like Helsinki because of how small it was, but it also felt like Stockholm/Sweden because of the cities architecture. Then, on Friday after class, I flew to Amsterdam for the weekend.
My first impression of it was not that great… granted I am typically a little grumpy after plane rides. I had envisioned bright colored houses along many canals, but that was not the case. The houses were not that colorful (compared to Nyhavn in Copenhagen) and it probably didn’t help that is was cloudy.
I found the “sidewalks” to be frustrating because there is only really one sidewalk on a street and they are pretty narrow with restaurant tables taking up some of that space. It was difficult to walk next to someone for a long period before you had to make yourself small to pass by people. I also really didn’t like smelling weed or cigarette smoke ALL THE TIME.
People in Copenhagen, and even in Sweden and Finland smoked (cigarettes mostly) a good bit, but not nearly as much as in Amsterdam. Friday night we also walked around the Red Light District. I had known about it before but seeing it in person was… wild? Interesting?
It bothers me less that people do this to earn money (as long as they aren’t being forced to do it), but that it drives society’s notion of being attractive and sexy is all physical. I also felt like it dehumanized women as nothing more than a “toy” and people walked by and window shopped for what they liked best.
On Saturday, we continued to explore more of Amsterdam’s city center by wandering around and going into a few museums like the Van Gogh museum (which I absolutely LOVED.) I was feeling better and my strong dislike for Amsterdam was not as strong but still prevalent as I didn’t like the big city feel.
The next day we spent with my friends’ family in Leiden, a city outside of Amsterdam (about a 30min train ride west). The city center was essentially a smaller version of Amsterdam, but more historic and “cute.” I really enjoyed Leiden. It was less populated, cleaner, and had that small-town charm to it. I also thought it was interesting that the city center was surrounded by a moat to protect itself back in the old days.
Overall, I am glad that I visited Amsterdam and Leiden, but I don’t think I would like to go back into the city center of Amsterdam for more than half a day. I would like to explore more of the rural areas of the Netherlands next time.
And finally, my last travel trip was on Tuesday. Ten of us drove down to Móns Klint to hike and explore a bit. We saw these beautiful cliffs over a blue ocean. I was one of the drivers. It was fun to drive in a completely different city. We drove through these beautiful rural farming areas with wheat fields on ends. It was a full day excursion and I enjoyed it, but I am glad to be “home” and have no more travels planned until my program is over!
Next week I will be showing my project since it will be done!