So I’ve been pretty horrible at updating my blog, but it’s all the fault of the 4 papers I had! “Finals week” was pretty horrendous - Matt and I stayed up until 6 am nearly every night (my brain works so much better after midnight!) and the last day we ran out of food and Matt resorted to eating butter sandwiches hahah. But finally, I’m free!! And now able to write my post on AMSTERDAM! Two weeks ago Maximus, Jake, Mich, Brandon, Sarah, and I went off on a weekend adventure as our last trip, and it was an absolute blast!! I think overall, Amsterdam was completely different than I expected. I thought it would be extremely seedy and dirty with high crime rates and where anything goes. It couldn’t have been more different! First off, Amsterdam is charming - an absolutely adorable Dutch town. There are a couple hundred small islands connected by over a thousand bridges, so everywhere you walk, you’re by a quaint little canal! 

Us minus Jake who was taking the picture: 

We went on a massive free tour where we learned a lot about the history of Amsterdam. Long story short, after the Nazis occupied Amsterdam and the city witnessed a lot of its own people doing some pretty horrendous, Amsterdam promised itself that never again would they let discrimination or intolerance rule their city. Thus, the philosophy on tolerance was born. Here is a statute in honour of the sex workers in Amsterdam. As many of you probably know, prostitution is legalised in The Netherlands. What I didn’t know though, was how much respect they have for the sex workers and their choice.  It’s a really fascinating outlook - the Red Light District is extremely well policed to protect the women, and if you threaten or demean a sex worker, you’ll get kicked out immediately. Taking pictures is also strictly forbidden.
The next best thing about being in the Netherlands? Dutch clogs!!
The Royal Palace:
Festive christmas lights everywhere! It was so fun to wander aimlessly, go into touristy shops to get souvenirs, and just enjoy the atmosphere. We ran out of actual sightseeing to do pretty quickly, so we had a lot of time to just enjoy the city which was fine by me!
Fun fact about the buildings - a lot of them tilt left or right because the land beneath them is sinking! A lot of the buildings also lean forward, but that’s on purpose. If you look at the top of the far right building, there’s this little protruding white box with a hook and a window underneath it. Since Amsterdam floods so much, they keep their storage in their roofs rather than their basements. To bring things up, you hoist the items on a pulley all the way to the top and through the highest window! The buildings lean forward so that the objects won’t bang against the rest of the building and ruin it. Brilliant! After our tour guide told us this, I noticed the hooks everywhere - they still use this method now
We went on a morning canal cruise to see Amsterdam from the water :)
Thanks to the housing shortage in Amsterdam, a lot of families have decided to live in boat houses. We could see inside a couple of them, and they look like completely normal houses…aside from the fact that they are in the water. Some of them had gardens and this one had its own patio hahah
Later on in Sunday I found a great town about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam called Zaans Schans. We didn’t know much about it except for the fact there were windmills, and we decided to go! It ended up being one of the best decisions of the trip. The town was a preserved quaint country town where the windmills are still in operation for different things. 
All the windmills behind me!
We also went to a cheese shop where there were a million samples. We stayed there forever just going back and forth between samples to the point where we all essentially had a full meal. It was so delicious, though, they had pesto cheese! Nom
Next up: a clog museum and store! There are different types of clogs for all types of occasions - wedding clogs, farming clogs, even ice skating clogs! I really wanted a pair, but I don’t know what I’d even do with them.
One of the most hilarious things about our trip to Zaans Schans was the chocolate smell. The minute we stepped off our train, we smelled chocolate. We instantly were thrilled, thinking there must be a chocolate shop somewhere! We followed our noses all throughout town, but sometimes the smell would go away, then come back even stronger. The whole three hours we were there, we could not find out where the chocolate smell was coming from. Finally, as we were walking back to our train, I saw this and screamed: IT SAYS COCOA. THERES A CHOCOLATE FACTORY!!! Yes, turns out, there was this giant chocolate factory SPEWING out chocolate fumes all across the town and down the river. Absolutely insane.
Unfortunately, at this point we had to say goodbye to Max and Jake since they were flying back Sunday night. But, the four of us still had a couple of things on our to do list. First off, I had to stick my Don Carlos Obedece sticker somewhere! Earlier, Ryan from the best taco shop in the world/La Jolla sent me three Don Carlos stickers to place around Europe. I put this one an awesome graffiti wall in the Red Light District!
We then found the I AMsterdam sign! 

Brandon climbed on top of the M hahahStruggles at fitting inside the A hahah
I’ll try to post a photo with all the letters spelled out since we took one of each. Until then, though, bye!