s the weather starts to chill on Penn’s campus, I think back to this time last year while I was abroad and to all the cozy cities I encountered that were idyllic for autumn. One of the places I adored most during the fall season was Amsterdam.
Many parts of the Dutch city look straight out of a story book, with canals casually lining paved paths, vintage bicycles dispersed over bridges, and trendy shops to be found around each corner. A main highlight for me, though, was the enormous amount of culture the city had to offer, especially the incredible art museums.
Two museums that stood out to me were the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Both offered extremely different experiences with their respective styles and layouts. The Van Gogh Museum houses its namesake artist’s iconic work in a modern, glass building that incorporated digital video throughout the displays. I thought the contrast between the impressionistic paintings and the contemporary design of the building was beautifully innovative. The Rijksmuseum was much more traditional in both its construction and art exhibits. Its sheer size was enough to keep my friend and I occupied for a lovely afternoon.
Other notable sites throughout the city include the iconic Amsterdam sign and the Anne Frank House. Both are typically very crowded but worth the wait. The sign, located right outside the Rijksmuseum, is the perfect spot for a photo op (as long as you don’t mind having a few other visitors in the background trying to do the same). The Anne Frank House featured elegant displays throughout its floors that truly resonated the building’s history. It’s definitely something you won’t want to miss if you ever find yourself in the city.
Of course, none of my abroad visits would be complete without a review of the food. Amsterdam, like many other parts of Europe, is nothing short of amazing when it comes to places to eat. Some of the most memorable culinary moments of were the late night finds. I enjoyed French fries from the well-known Manneken Pis stand that sells a huge portion served from a to-go paper cone. The fries were piping hot and the perfect level of crisp. But being the indecisive person I am, I quickly asked the cashier what sauce he recommended to dollop onto my snack. He recommended the “frites sauce” which seemed like a safe option. Little did I know that “frites sauce” is unfortunately just a sweeter version of mayonnaise. If I were to go again, I would have to stop for some fries but would probably steer clear of the mayo in lieu of a more tempting topping, like the peanut satay. I was also surprised to discover that the stir-fry chain Wok to Walk, which offers custom-picked dishes, was founded in Amsterdam. Eating at some original establishments was both comforting and delicious.
All in all, Amsterdam is a gorgeous city that gave off both a trendy and historical vibe. I would highly recommend visiting to anyone heading to Europe in the future.
Images courtesy of Google Images & Nicole Luo