New Years Eve in Amsterdam was, not QUITE as expected, but certainly is a story to be told. I'll edit the day part of it so I can go into the saga that was New Years Eve. Even if you don't read the blog, at least read the craziness that was the leading 2 hours into New Years. INSANE.
We woke up early to go in as a group to the city to Anne Frank's House. Which, I apparently took ZERO pictures at. It's not a huge shocker though, because to be totally honest, I was super disappointed in it. I read the diary when I was only in 6th grade, and became fascinated with the whole story and the war. But seeing the House was a total downer, not in the depressing way, but because it has been so...commercialized? That's not the right term, but the entire thing has been redone and modernized in a way. I doubt any of the walls are actually authentic or anything. It was like seeing any other recreated museum. Sad, really. But seeing the actual diary at the end was pretty intense. That was the only part of the whole thing that made it seem remotely real.
Anyways, after we finished the house, we were split up again, and Tim and I went on a massive hunt for clothes to make me warm. I totally was unprepared for the cold, and knowing I was going to be out until the wee hours of morn made it necessary for warmth. Two pairs of tights (amazing), a pair of hiking socks, and a sweet Amsterdam hat later, I was prepared!
And we headed off for the Rijiks Museum, an art Museum. We passed some cool graffiti and klomppen shops along the way!
Finally we made it to the museum, only to find out that they had just reopened and everyone and their mother wanted to go see the new exhibits. So we stood in line, outside, for over an hour, in the freezing cold and snow. I took at least 100 pictures while we were in line, trying to take my mind off of it, but I will only bore you with two of them. And at least I had a hat! The British man in front of us had bare ears. Poor poor Brit. The first picture is me with my lion love, and the second is one of the entrance gates into the museum, it was really quite gorgeous and massive.
But we finally got in, saw the museum with frozen feet, and it was interesting. Art museums just aren't really our thing. I can't look at a painting for twenty minutes and try to figure out what each brush stroke meant. I frankly don't care. My bad.
After the Rijiks, we went back to the hotel and the "closeby" supermarket, which was really at least a mile away and a gas station has more food than this place did, but we got a small lunch and headed back to the hotel to eat and rest up for the evening ahead!
A rest and a nap later, we figured we should eat before freezing our booties off for the next six hours, so we hit up the hotel buffet downstairs, expensive and not that great, it filled our tummies with warmth.
And then it started....we decided to meet up with Ryan and Kristen at 10ish, and then head down to Dam Square, where apparently it is all the rage to be. We get to the Metro stop and are informed by other kids in our tour group that the trains had stopped at 8. I know I said I wouldn't complain about our tour guide in this, but COME ON, who doesn't tell their tour group that the train stations close at 8! Plus, he never informed us on how to get BACK to the hotel, and we had to read another tour groups poster to figure out there was a free bus at 2am. But anyways, we were pissed. It was 10:30, and cabs were running 100euro ($150) to get to the city. So, we thought the only thing to do was start walking. And thus we did!
It was cold, but the boys had Heinekens, and I was just desperate to get there. We had no idea if we were going in the right direction or not, but just hoped we were. We had walked at least half an hour when finally someone was kind enough to answer our questions if we were headed the right way. They pointed in the direction, and said we would never make it by midnight. We still had 7 kilometers to go. We basically started jogging. Asked another lady about a half mile later, who was on a bicycle, and she basically laughed at us. We were panicking at this point. There were 8 of us jogging/running/PISSED off at our tour guide that he put us in this situation. Totally desperate and nowhere near close at 11:30, we flag down a taxi van just to see how much, he took pity on us since it was so close to midnight, and pretty much the whole city was already there, and gave the rate of 5euros a piece. Totally worth it.
We all hop in the van, still nervous about making it with traffic and all. 11:40ish, we get as far as the taxi can take us, and we basically just start running in the direction we think we should go. We're all screaming Dam Square, trying to get directions, but nobody pays any attention to us. It was like Amazing Race, I swear, just running around, almost in circles. Finally I ask a couple who actually answers me, but also tells me that Dam Square was closed because it was too full. I wanted to cry. I got back to the group, and we decide to get as close as we can anyway. People were packing the streets no matter where we were, fireworks going off mere feet from us (BIG fireworks, totally legal in Amsterdam) being set off by drunks who had no clue what they were doing. We realized we had run totally the wrong way.
By this point we are all sweating and tired and mad and just done. But we keep running until we see the sign that says Dam Square is closed. Then we started jogging. By the time we hit the massive wall of people, we were less than a block from Dam Square. Nothing was going to stop us at this point. We basically just locked up, and pushed forward. We kept pushing until we could really push no more. And then about a minute and a half later, they started the countdown. We had BARELY made it. By the skin of our teeth made it. We wanted to punch Omar in the throat. People are everywhere, fireworks are everywhere, booze is everywhere. Theres music and dancing and its just crazy. I spent my New Years in Amsterdam. I called my mom amidst the chaos and it was one of those conversations where she can't understand a word I say, and I have no idea if she's even on the other end of the line. Fireworks were going off, people were screaming, it was crazy.
After the countdown, we knew we had two hours to kill before the first bus left to our hotel, so along with Ryan and Kristen, we just started walking the streets of Amsterdam. Street sellers had suitcases of champagne to sell, one couple was lighting a candle to raise their mini hot air balloon, more fireworks, more booze and singing and dancing. It was just really fun to experience it with that many people.
After awhile we slowly made our way to the bus stop, going back through Dam Square, and the amount of garbage and firework trash was absolutely insane. This picture doesn't even come close to doing it justice. It was gross the amount of garbage and bottles and who knows what that littered the ground. But we pushed through, Ryan and Kristen needing a snack, we stopped at a French Fry stand and of course, Ryan made good friends with the British guys ahead of us. It seemed to be his gift.
We finally made it to the bus station, and were crazy lucky enough to actually get seats for the trip home. It was packed. But we made it. With one crazy story. No thanks to Omar.