Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe
For me, the best thing about living in London is the proximity of Europe. With foreign cities right on your doorstop, weekends become an avenue for new adventures, and collecting passport stamps. Living in London not only makes these getaways doable, but it also makes them very affordable.
A couple of months after I moved to London, I booked my first weekend away with a tour company. It was the Easter long weekend, and I was set to travel via coach to the Netherlands, for three nights in Amsterdam. Being both my first tour, and first time in Europe, I didn’t really know what to expect.
On the morning of the tour, our coach left London at 8am. We drove south to Dover, and boarded a ferry to France. We crossed over into Belgium, travelled through Brussels, and by the afternoon, we had reached the boarder to the Netherlands. For a considerably long day of travel, which included a peak-hour traffic jam, it passed extremely quickly. I spent it getting to know my fellow travellers, and our guide hosted games to keep us entertained.
Early that evening, we checked into our hotel. After dinner and freshening up, we were thrust into the night with a boozy boat cruise through the city’s canals. I managed to snatch a seat by a window, which was fogged from the cool, rainy weather outside. In between sipping champagne and Flügel, I rubbed circles into the condensation, relishing the view of the passing city lights and architecture.
The weekend erupted into a haze of drinking, exploring and cementing new friendships. We wandered through multi-coloured fields of tulips at Keukenhof, and road bikes and watched how cheese was made in Edam. We explored the red light district, and myself and another girl indulged far too heavily on hash brownies. We visited museums, saw a sex show, and sat by the canals eating our weight in cones of fries and mayonnaise.
But like the initial coach trip, the weekend flew by, far too quickly. Before I knew it, it was Monday morning and we were all back on the coach, pulling out of Amsterdam. I sat closely in a group of six others, exchanging contact details for when we all arrived back in London.
There’s something very unique about experiencing a new place with strangers. One thing I’ve come to learn is that (among many other things) travel teaches you tolerance and perspective, and as a result, it forces you to become the best version of yourself. Consequently, such experiences between travellers creates a unity, which is fuelled by memories, and new-found friendship.
Elle Conway studies Journalism in Canberra. Prior to university, she spent four gap years travelling, working and living abroad. She loves spiced rum, and dreams of one day travelling to Antarctica.
(featured image by Pixabay)