Last Last Saturday-Sunday: Chinese New Year! Year of the Tiger. On Saturday, cooked dinner with a bunch of friends, of which I made scallion pancakes–a recipe I learned from my mom. Everyone had something good to say about them so I must’ve made them right!
Sunday, I woke up reallllly late. We ate dinner together at a Chinese restaurant called Red Chili. If you didn’t know, they don’t tip in restaurants here–thankfully. The service is pretty bad, with most servers being unattentive and unenthusiastic, with a plethora of communication problems. The food was decent though–not typical American-Chinese fare–highlighted by dishes including clay pots (mixtures of meat/seafood with vegetables in sauce stewed together) and frog legs (ask anyone who’s had them and they’ll say they taste just like chicken). Afterwards we watched Mulan in someone’s flat.
Monday: Someone suffers a collapsed lung during bboy practice. Dancing is serious stuff guys!
Wednesday: I discover that the local grocery store, Sainsbury’s, has donuts for 69p (about a dollar). Five awesome sugary donuts filled with jam (“jelly” here means “Jell-O”)or apples for 69p is a huge steal, and they are actually better than almost any donut I’ve had in the states.
Friday-Sunday: I leave for Amsterdam! I get there at night after all my classes, traveling with a group of about 20+ exchange students. We organized it (well, my friend Stephen basically did) all by ourselves, independent of our exchange program. Yay for my first international trip while abroad!
Although Amsterdam may be known as a place of tulips and canals to the older crowd, unfortunately amongst college kids it is known as a haven for marijuana (sold under “coffee shops”) and legal prostitution. (Do not worry, mom–I did not use either of these Amsterdam goods.) The hostel that we stayed in was actually near the very middle of the Red Light District where almost all the prostitutes are (ironically the hostel is a Christian hostel with optional Bible studies every night at 11:30). Although this area obviously has the connotation of being very dangerous and unsafe, I don’t think I ever felt that way due to the strong regulations by the government and the prevalence of police in the area. Most of the people in the area are just creepy old men or tourists who point and giggle at the sight of the area (we were the latter). The district has a pretty interesting history with a bunch of unique tidbits. The street our hostel was on actually was for transgendered prostitutes–evident by the blue lights near their windows in addition to the red ones. I am somewhat (actually, very) proud that I was able to recognize on my own that they were all guys before being told about the blue light.
Aside from the seemingly corrupt sights, I also went to a few museums. The first one was the Rijkmuseum, featuring a lot of interesting arts, with a focus on their Rembrandt exhibit (including the large “Night Watch” painting). It was quite a hefty fee of 14 Euro though, but the artwork was impressive nonetheless. I also went to the Heineken factory/museum which was actually probably the highlight of the trip. They take you all around the factory and museum and show the history of Heiney and how it is made–from making the beer to bottling it. They also give you tips on how to enjoy a beer and things like how to tell if your glass is clean. Comes with 2.5 free beers as well! Well worth the 15 or so Euro. The last museum was the Anne Frank House. Quite depressing, but interesting as well. Took about an hour to go through the entire house. Their hiding place was actually quite large–I always thought it was like some really small cupboard or something. But it’s pretty crazy how they had to hide there and how long they were able to. Probably the most striking thing I remember is Otto Frank (Anne’s dad) talking about how he never knew some of the emotions and thoughts that her daughter had until he read the diary after her death–and how parents often do not really know who their children are.
Amsterdam was pretty cool although, surprisingly, not as “crazy” as I thought it was. When half the city is high it tends to have a mellow mood. The smell of marijuana is everywhere in the city–one of my friends said they even smelled it in the Anne Frank house. Also, if you come, you must try the fries with mayonnaise. Really unhealthy, I know, (and yes I had fries again) but it tastes oh so good and is such a good late night snack.
Today: Went to Manchester United game, vs West Ham. West Ham is the team in the movie Green Street Hooligans. 3-0. Two headers by Rooney! After going to both Manchester teams’ games, I have to say Man U is much more energetic (73000 people in attendance) and more positivity (Man City berates all of their players, I feel). I probably won’t be going to a football match for a while though–time to save money for Spring Break!
No pictures for now, but I may update soon with some. Until next time!