Happiness in Holland

Happiness in Holland

“Fall asleep in London, wake up in Amsterdam!” read an online coach website. When having a hard time deciding between London and Holland for our girls’ trip, Nicole suggested we do both! The rest of us thought it would be out of the question because of how expensive it would be. After a long time … Read more

“Fall asleep in London, wake up in Amsterdam!” read an online coach website. When having a hard time deciding between London and Holland for our girls’ trip, Nicole suggested we do both! The rest of us thought it would be out of the question because of how expensive it would be. After a long time of searching though, we came across a website for an overnight coach that takes passengers from London to Amsterdam. It was less than half the cost of a flight, would save us money on a hostel that night and would save so much exploring time by traveling overnight! However, we ended up getting about an hour of sleep that night. “Go to sleep in London, wake up in Amsterdam” turned into: board coach at 9 p.m., drive for one hour, get off for boarder control, another hour on coach, switch to ferry for two hours, back to the coach for two hours, 45 minute gas station stop and remainder of the time on the coach. At the time, we were grumpy, tired and sore, all of us regretting the decision, but looking back we are so happy we did it because it allowed us to go to two amazing places!

amsterdam

Our first stop in Amsterdam was to the Pancake Bakery for brunch, to re-energize and reward ourselves after our tiring journey. I read online that you must try pancakes and waffles in Amsterdam, and the Pancake Bakery is one of the best spots to do so. They offered over 75 types of pancakes, from apple with cinnamon to chicken with pineapple. I ordered banana pancakes with strawberry sauce. They were delicious!

pancakes

Down the street from the Pancake Bakery is the Anne Frank House. The house is where her and her family hid and where she wrote her diary. I am not sure what to really say about the house. It made me very sad and angry at the same time. I will never understand how someone could be so cruel and hateful. Every room had quotes on the walls from Anne’s diary. My favorite quote I read was one where Anne said she dreamed to be a writer. Her goal was to publish a book called the “Secret Annex” one day. I wish she knew then that she would be a famous author and that her book would be published in 70 different languages.

Walking through the dark and dingy rooms where they had to hide made me feel ashamed for ever complaining about rainy or cold days. Another of Anne’s quotes on the wall stated “I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I’m free…” She wasn’t even allowed to peek through a curtain to see the sunshine, yet I complain at the first sight of a rain cloud outside. We were all feeling a bit down after our visit to the Anne Frank House, but I am glad I got to learn more about the history of the Holocaust as well as more about Anne and her courage.

Amsterdam reminded me of Venice. Although the city does not rely on the waterways, there are canals and bridges everywhere you go. Instead of getting around by metro, what we were used to in Europe, we had to use trams. The roads were rather confusing as there were not only lines for cars and trams, but also for bicycles! Most of the citizens use bikes to get around in Amsterdam. We learned that there are actually more bikes than there are people and over 40,000 bikes get stolen every year!

garden

The language in Holland is so different than any language I have ever heard. It is very harsh and sounds a bit angry. I was looking forward to hearing pretty Italian again in Viterbo. While we were there, the Amsterdam football (American soccer) team won the final, so there was raging in the streets, beer cans and trash littering every inch of the city and police in every square. Some of the trams had to avoid certain routes because of how crazy it was! I have never felt very unsafe in Europe, but I felt a bit uneasy in the city that day. We weren’t there for much of the day though because our last day of girls’ trip was spent at the Keukenhof Garden!

garden2

The garden is outside of Amsterdam, in Southern Holland. At the entrance we got refreshing “swirls” ice cream (what I considered Holland’s version of DQ blizzards) to enjoy throughout the garden. The pictures I took of the garden do not do it justice whatsoever. I have never seen so many beautiful flowers in my life. The garden only blooms from the middle of April to the middle of May, so we came at the perfect time! It was a beautiful day. After wandering through the garden, we made a little walk to the tulip fields, where there were endless rows of purple, pink, white, orange and yellow tulips. It was just like the pictures I have seen, but 100 times better. I could have strolled through the tulip fields for hours. I was so happy we got to experience both the city of Amsterdam and the breathtaking country side of Holland.

tulips

I can’t believe this was my last trip of the semester, but our girls’ trip was the perfect way to end my study abroad experience. I remember leaving for Barcelona, telling Laur “Not the next flight, or the next flight, or the flight after that, or the one after that… but the one after THAT will be the one taking me home.” Now my NEXT flight will be the one that leads me back the United States!

Field Trip Fun

Field Trip Fun

The past two weekends the program set up field trips for us! Our first field trip was to Cascata delle Marmore, Marmore Waterfalls. These are man-made waterfalls, created by the ancient Romans. It is the tallest man-made waterfall in the world, coming in at 541-feet tall. As it turned to spring literally overnight in Viterbo, … Read more

waterfall

The past two weekends the program set up field trips for us! Our first field trip was to Cascata delle Marmore, Marmore Waterfalls. These are man-made waterfalls, created by the ancient Romans. It is the tallest man-made waterfall in the world, coming in at 541-feet tall. As it turned to spring literally overnight in Viterbo, we had perfect weather. That morning was the most peaceful one I’ve had in Italy. It was so nice to be outside, enjoying the sun. After the waterfalls we went to Lago di Piediluco, Piediluco Lake. We had lunch by the water and relaxed on the docks in the sunshine for the rest of the afternoon.

waterfall2

It was mom’s birthday that day and although I had a great day, I was anxious to get back to Viterbo and call her. I really miss mom and the first thing I’m doing when arriving back in the States is giving her the biggest hug possible.

This past weekend we went to a city called Capalbio. We first checked out the town and then we went to the beach for the afternoon! I underestimated the Italian sun and am now a burnt little lobster, but I had a lot of fun laying out on the beach and relaxing. After the beach we went to the Tarot Garden! The garden, which has 22 sculptures based on tarot cards, was built by Niki de Saint de Phalle. Her goal was to create a “small Eden” and she was inspired by Park Guell in Barcelona (which is where I will be going later on this week!). She actually lived in the garden while she was building it!

tarotgarden

I am so happy we have been having such beautiful weather. I have been spending most days in the park, going for runs, reading and working on drawings for art class. Flowers are blooming everywhere. I love springtime in Italy!

Palaces & Bike Rides: Caserta

Palaces & Bike Rides: Caserta

Day 5: Caserta I love bike rides. And waterfalls. And gardens. And sunshine. And I loved the perfect afternoon I had in Caserta. Today was our final day of the field study. After an early breakfast, we loaded the bus with our luggage and set off for Caserta. Our trip took longer than expected because … Read more

Day 5: Caserta

I love bike rides. And waterfalls. And gardens. And sunshine. And I loved the perfect afternoon I had in Caserta.

Today was our final day of the field study. After an early breakfast, we loaded the bus with our luggage and set off for Caserta. Our trip took longer than expected because there was a strike at the local train station, causing more people to drive and a lot of traffic on the roads.

royalpalace

When we arrived, we met our guide to tour the Royal Palace. We learned that King Charles of Bourbon wanted to move the capital from Naples to a safer location, so he chose Caserta, a city easier to defend. From the center of the Palace you can see the four main squares, as well as the garden to one side and a road leading straight to Naples on the other side. All of the rooms in the Palace were pretty, but my favorites were the rooms dedicated to the seasons. The spring room was so colorful and flowers were everywhere.

palace

We were free the rest of the afternoon so I found a sunny spot in the garden to eat lunch, write in my journal and finish my field study homework assignment.

bikeride

Afterwards, Tyler and I rented bikes and set off to explore the rest of the garden. I have missed bike rides so much!!! We got to see all of the pretty fountains and waterfalls during our bike ride. All of them symbolize mythological creatures.

The last statue at the top of the hill of the garden is of Diana, the goddess of hunting, who was supposedly beautiful and admired by many. She caught a hunter, Actaeon, spying on her while she was bathing one day and got very upset, so she turned him into a deer. He was then killed by his own hunting dogs!

fountain

This afternoon was absolutely beautiful and so peaceful. The scenic bike ride, sunshine and waterfalls made for the perfect ending to this fun week of traveling throughout southern Italy.

Check out some highlights of my fun traveling throughout Southern Italy here!