Over the summer when I told people I would be coming to Amsterdam to study for the semester, everyone had their own thoughts or tips to share with me. I just couldn’t wait to get here and see what everyone was talking about. A lady I met through meditation and yoga told me that there would be “a surprise around every corner.” She could not have been more right. No moment has been dull here and you can find just about everything you would ever want here.
Yesterday morning my new friends and I decided to take our new bikes out for a spin, the best way to see the city. We headed towards the center of the city from our place and soon ended up in Vondelpark. Vondelpark is known as a great place to meet up with friends and enjoy what the city has to offer. They say that 9 out of 10 of the country’s residents visit the park at least once a year and that the park has 10 million visitors a year in total. As soon as we entered the park we heard music playing and decided to follow the sound. We came across Vondelpark Openlucht Theater were they have mostly free concerts. A band called “Ivar” and was playing “Wonderwall.” We grabbed some beers and some seats up on a balcony overlooking the stage. I instantly felt at home. As I sat watching the band play and the others on the crowd enjoying the music I knew I made the right choice to come to this beautiful city.
We continued further towards the city on our bikes and came across Dam Square. Dam Square is home to the Royal Palace, the New Church, and the National Monument built to commemorate the end of the second world war in the Netherlands. The square is overwhelmingly large for such a small city. From here we could see the city stretching in every direction.
Surprisingly, the Red Light District (apparently closed Sunday afternoons) is not very far from here. We walked through and it is the definition of a “surprise around every corner.” As we walked around the Red Light District, with no red lights on, we noticed that the clouds were getting dark and I began to fear another downpour, this time while out on my bike. I felt like we had been wandering around and touring the city forever, it would definitely take us 45 minutes to get back home on our bikes. On the way home we went through the park again. Riding through Vondelpark at dusk with a rainstorm approaching, I couldn’t help but notice a group of people about my age enjoying a picnic in the park without a worry in the world. I was reminded to be present and not worry about the rain. As I rode my bike and took in how the wind felt blowing through my hair, I realized just how much I am going to enjoy my new home.
We were easily back to our apartments in less than 15 minutes, before a single raindrop even fell. This made me appreciate the city even more because I know that there is always a new surprise around a corner nearby and I fall more in love with the city everywhere I turn.