The meeting time for Friday was 7:00 am at Waterloo stations I got up bright and early to head out! We got our coach assignments and then headed out to Dover which took about 2.5 hours or so. Here's where the trip gets interesting. We were going to be taking a ferry from Dover to Calais (France) to drive to Amsterdam which sounds like a great plan…until the French workers at Calais decided to be French and go on strike. Our ferry was delayed leaving by about two hours….and then an hour and a half ferry ride took ….wait for it….5 HOURS. We literally sat in the water for 4 hours while we waited for the ferries in front of us to dock. At least the view was nice (I saw the gorgeous white cliffs of Dover!) and the company as well. When we finally docked, we boarded the coach with an immense sigh of relief and began the rive to Amsterdam. I got quite a bit of reading done in my book on a murder mystery in the 15th century Ottoman Empire and it was actually quite peaceful. We finally finally finally arrived in Amsterdam around 9:30 and we checked into our hotel in southern Amsterdam. The hotel was the best one I've stayed in yet so that was lovely. We dropped our bags and freshened up before we went on a short walking tour of the central city. Amsterdam is quite unlike any other city I've visited: definitely a city, but quieter and lots of canals haha. We were starving and luckily everything is open super late on the weekends so some new friends and I had a quick dinner at an Argentinian restaurant near the centre of the city before we did a bit of exploring. I also had the immense pleasure of trying a chocolate covered Belgian waffle from a stand on the street and words cannot describe what this waffle was like. Smothered in chocolate, light, fluffy, and warm, and simply to die for.
On Saturday, we had an early breakfast and were then taken on a little morning excursion to the seaside villages of Edam and Volendam. Volendam is right on the water is full of little shops selling cheeses and souvenirs and fries and waffles of course, and it was so nice to get some fresh air and explore! Edam is about a half hour away from Volendam and is even tinier! I spent quite a bit of time in a little cheese shops because they had a ton of samples, including a truffled goat cheese which was incredible. We strolled along the river a bit and sampled some more cheese before it was time to head back to Amsterdam. When we got back, we headed straight for the Anne Frank house because that was at the top of my list. The line wasn't too long at all and they had free wifi so we were very quiet while we waited. You aren't allowed to take pictures inside, which I actually appreciated since I think it would feel disrespectful. The experience was absolutely surreal. I had read Anne Frank's diary when I was a bit younger and had read a lot about her but it's nothing like walking through the secret annexe and reading quotes on the walls and climbing up the staircases. The rooms were so tiny and dark and you have to remind yourself constantly that eight people lived here for two and a half years, all together and terrified. I was silent the whole time because I was speechless at what I was seeing. They've done an excellent job with the museum because they've preserved her legacy so beautifully with quotes and pictures and I got to see the original diary which was amazing. The whole walk through took a while so unfortunately, most of the other museums were closed by that point, but I think that was quite enough to process for one day. We got dinner after the house and poked around in the Cheese Museum (sooo many samples!) and the Tulip Museum gift shop before we were in need of something sweet! We stopped at a crepes and waffles place in the city and then my personal request: the best place to get Dutch apple pie in Amsterdam. It was right on Prinsengracht and was a little cafe that had gotten 5 stars all around. It was for a very good reason since this New Englander had the best apple pie of her entire life. It was a cross between a pie and a cake and had whipped cream on top and was absolutely divine!
We had an early wakeup on Sunday so we could check out of the hotel and head to Bruges, Belgium! It's like a little storybook city that never left the 1600s and was so fun! We had two hours in the city so we did everything we possibly could. We started by getting, of course, waffles at a tea room which were excellent! I got mine with butter and powdered sugar to change things up a bit. We then spent the rest of the time poking around little shops and tasting chocolate and stroop waffles (waffle cookies with syrup or caramel in the middle!) and fries, of course! Belgian-cut fries are thick and they serve them with a tiny fork because they can get quite messy! Our time was over too quickly, unfortunately, but I can't wait to come back. From there, it was a quick journey to Calais where the French were, surprisingly, not on strike this time! I added another stamp to my passport and the ferry ride was quick and painless. What a relief!
Inspired to be,