When we arrived we had bike rentals waiting for us and our guide Claudia led us over small canals, past cute little houses, and along the coast. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. After spending quite a few days in large and busy city centers, biking through the fresh air on a sunny day was simply perfect.
Jess and I tried our best at bike selfies!
The Dutch were playing in the World Cup the following day, so naturally every neighborhood we passed through was decked out in orange!
After riding around for a bit we stopped off along the coast for a photo op and a brush with the North Sea.
When our blissful ride ended, we popped into a cheese shop for an Edam cheese history lesson, but more importantly--samples! We tasted a variety of cow, sheep, and goat cheeses as well as flavored cheese such as garlic and herb. They were so unbelievably delicious that I brought a small wheel back as a souvenir. I'm afraid to cut it up as I'll not be able to stop myself from devouring it!
Next we walked over to the shoe shop to watch a traditional wooden shoe demonstration. It's impressive how quickly one pair of shoes can be made with the machinery they have. Almost all shoes are now made strictly for tourists of course.
Before heading back to Amsterdam we walked the pier of a nearby fishing village and grabbed some nibbles to munch on.
My friend Megan and I split seafood salad on a roll and some yummy fried cod bits.
Back on the bus I had a little snooze and once we arrived back in the center of Amsterdam I couldn't put myself in the mood to walk any museums. I'd been warned the Heineken brewery tour is just a tourist gimmick and I just wanted more time to walk outdoors and explore the true Dutch culture anyway.
Had I another day in the city, I would've definitely visited the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house. No worries, just means a second trip is in order!
When most people think of a canal city they think straight away of Venice. However, Amsterdam also has an abundance of them making the city quite picturesque. A couple of friends and I walked to a café for a coffee and then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering the streets admiring the canals and flower market.
The Dutch were some of my favorite native people to interact with on the whole trip; they were so friendly. Their ability to speak perfect English is very impressive. They begin learning English just like any other subject when they start school as youngins.
As Americans we're quite spoiled by the fact that English is so widely known. I wish we would teach a second language, perhaps Spanish, from the very beginning of school in the States. No matter how smart I may feel, there is nothing that makes me feel more uneducated than talking to people all of the time who fluently know many different languages. 4 years in high school doesn't cut it. Someone get me Rosetta Stone so I can master my French!
After a bit we met back up with the group in front of the I amsterdam sign and went for a group dinner where we had a traditional Indonesian meal.
The integration of Indonesian culture amongst the Dutch comes from a long history of colonial interactions and even today the Netherlands is one of Indonesia's most important trade partners. The meal was spicy and delicious!
After a jam packed day I was beat, but we had one more event which was a canal boat cruise. The canals are gorgeous but unfortunately the cruise was quite uneventful and boring. We did pass the Anne Frank house which I was glad to see since I wasn't able to go to the museum.
Some of the group opted to stay in town and did club night round 2, but Will, Laura, Megan and I settled on picking up a couple beers from the market and snuggling down into the comfy hotel beds to watch Columbia and Uruguay in the World Cup. It was a nice way to wind down after such a busy day, plus the following day was an early start to head to Germany!