May 22, 2014
I maintain that I can’t really share stories about Amsterdam nights with you, but I can tell you this: Quite a few of our number never made it down to breakfast on Day 21. Too bad too, because the Blue Square Hotel provided another delicious buffet meal this morning.
Those of us that could function this morning hopped onto the coach for a ride into the city. We wouldn’t be seeing Jon Snow again until our last dinner out tonight, but he would be dropping people off at various spots to explore Amsterdam.
Most of us got off the coach near Anne Frank House. For those of you not familiar, Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who lived with her family in hiding for several years during the holocaust, before they were betrayed, captured, and sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp where all but one of their number died. Anne herself is famous for the diary she kept while in hiding, which was later published. I read The Diary of Anne Frank in school, and was always quite taken by her story, so this was a stop that I didn’t plan to miss.
Even though we got there before they opened, we waited in line for nearly an hour. The annex where the family hid is so small, that only a few people can get through each room at a time, so we were told that long waits were common here.
Once inside, this experience touched me on a similar level to Dachau, although somehow it felt even more personal. Once you’ve read someones’ diary, you can’t help but feel that you know them. That made it even more difficult to walk through the rooms where Anne was essentially held captive for some of the most important years of her life. It was a very moving experience, and I would recommend it to anyone. I do recommend reading the diary before you go, though. It really brings a completely new meaning to the experience.
Next, we walked as a group to the “I Am Amsterdam” sign for a nice photo opp. This place was crawling with tourists, but we managed to get a few nice photos.
After this stop, we ran over to the Heineken Museum for “The Heineken Experience.” Essentially, this is a tour of the factory and a bunch of fluff, with beer tastings along the way. The beer was, of course, the best part, but I don’t think I would pay the 18€ again. It would probably be interesting if you’ve never seen a beer brewing and bottling demonstration before, but if you have, I’d recommend skipping this.
Enjoying Heineken at the end of the tour [Left to right: Sam, Dicky, Tom, Me, Pat, Shandi, Alex]
From here, we walked down the road to a delicious burger joint for lunch, before doing a bit of shopping and tramming back to the center of the city to meet up with the group.
Then, we went back to the Blue Square Hotel to change and get ready for dinner before jumping on the coach with the crew and heading out to Volendam for our farewell dinner. This was our last optional extra dinner, and it cost 31€, or $42 USD. I wish I had taken photos here, because the views from this restaurant right on the canal were absolutely gorgeous. I was distracted though because I was on the phone with my new boss, receiving my job offer at ipsy. Such fantastic news! Dinner here was another delicious one, but because I was so distracted thinking about my new (DREAM!) job, I can’t even tell you what we ate!
Next, we coached back into the city for our farewell cruise. We would cruise the canals of Amsterdam and would be all together for the last time. This optional extra cost 31€ also, and everyone on our tour participated. Drinks were unlimited and the views were incredible. We all spent time taking photos together, and allowed time for speeches from Jon Snow & our driver Kev, as well as our unofficial leader, Dicky. We took time for one last, “Canada…f*ck yeah!” and toasted all of the many adventures we’d had together in the last 21 days. This was a happy farewell; there were no tears. Those would come later!
After our cruise docked, we followed Jon Snow for another (slightly more tame) night out in Amsterdam. The Canada boys told us they’d have to leave the hotel before 6:00 a.m. the next morning to catch their flight out of Amsterdam, so we’d need to say goodbye now since they were going home early. This really blindsided me…I wasn’t ready to start the goodbyes yet! I figured those would come the next day.
Canada. [Left to right: Mark, Geoff, Me, Brett, Craig]
I hugged Craig and Mark, and said a quick goodbye, but I lost it when it was time to hug Brett and Geoff. I had bonded pretty tightly with them, and they reminded me so much of my friends back home. I had trouble letting go of both of them when it was time, and I think I ended up hugging Brett at least three times. These were really tough goodbyes for me, even though somehow I know I’ll see the Canada boys again someday.
As we waved goodbye to the boys, I heard Dicky shout next to me, “CANADA…” and through tears, I joined in for one last “…f*ck yeah!”
When we couldn’t see Canada anymore, I linked arms with Shandi, who was also having a hard time. We walked around the city that way for a while, and enjoyed our last night together as a group, even though a critical part of us was now missing.
Next up: Goodbyes, déjà vu, and our return to London
Check out my other Contiki posts:
Introduction: An American Girl in Europe
Day 1: Oh hey, London
Day 2: Bonjour, Paris!
Day 3: Parisian Adventures
Day 4: Lookin’ Good, Switzerland
Day 5: All Things Swiss
Day 6: Switzerland, Italy, France…oh my!
Day 7: Bond. James Bond.
Day 8: Buongiorno Italia!
Day 9: When in Rome
Day 10: That’s Amore
Day 11: Vatican City to Venice
Day 12: The Last Italian Adventure
Day 13: Hop-fer-gerten
Day 14: Soaring Over Austria
Day 15: München
Day 16: Bittersweet Symphonies
Day 17: Vienna to Prague
Day 18: Ahoj, Prague!
Day 19: St. Goar, Rhine Valley
Day 20: Amsterdamage
Day 21: Even more Amsterdamage
Day 22: Back to the Start
Day 23/24: The End of a Great Adventure
Contiki in a Nutshell: Know Before You Go
Contiki: What Should I Pack?