Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A weekend trip to Amsterdam

From Polly Ma from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Read on.

Our first weekend at Leuven was a four-day weekend, so on Friday, I set off to Amsterdam with a few other students. We caught a bus from Brussels and the ride was about 3.5 hours long due to holiday traffic. When we arrived in Amsterdam, we checked into a little hostel. It was my first experience with hostels and completely different from anywhere I've ever stayed.

The Amsterdam crew!
Cruising on the Amsterdam canals
I shared a room with the three other students from Hopkins and our room had two sets of bunk beds. The room had one tiny bathroom and the entire floor had to share a shower. My first day in Amsterdam was spent getting oriented and getting to know our surroundings. At night, we went on a pubcrawl where we met people from Ireland, England, and France!

The next day, we found a small farmer's market a few blocks from our hostel. We had fresh-made crepes and fruit smoothies for breakfast. After breakfast, we went on a boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam, where we got to see some beautiful sights. The cruise was about 75 minutes long and a nice break from all the walking around. After the cruise, we walked around Vondelpark, a scenic park with people rollerskating and playing soccer and picnicking and just relaxing. In the evening, we visited the infamous Red Light District. The streets were so crowded with tourists that it was difficult to maneuver the streets.

In our final day in Amsterdam, we saw a bunch of different museums. In the morning, a few of us wanted to go to the Anne Frank House Museum, but there was a 2-hour wait, so we decided to go back later in the day when it was less crowded. Instead, we walked around the Jordaan neighborhood, which was quiet and filled with many cafes. There was also small cheese shop and museum that had tons of free samples, so we spent a half hour in there, learning about different cheese types.

Homemade granola sold at the farmer's market
In the afternoon, we made our way to the Van Gogh Museum, that features the works of Van Gogh and Felix Vallotton. After that, we went back to the Anne Frank House and the wait then was only 45 minutes. Walking through the house was incredible and extremely somber, and it was definitely worth the wait.

At the end of the day, we caught a bus home, missed our train, took 3 other different trains, and finally made it back to Leuven in one piece. It was an exciting first weekend, but my real work at imec started on Monday, which I'll talk about more next time!

Photos courtesy Polly Ma.


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