I am exhausted. My body aches, my feet throb with blisters, I am dehydrated, and I still feel sleep deprived even after a full 8 hours last night. Some might say, I've been Amsterdamned. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Let's start at the beginning. Friday morning, I popped out of bed energetically at 4:30 am (jokes..) to catch our super early flight to Eindhoven. From there, we took a bus and a train to Amsterdam, arriving at about 11 am. We were exhausted, delirious, and completely clueless on what to do since none of us had any idea where to go (not to mention everything was in Dutch, which might as well be Chinese). But we were SO excited to be in Amsterdam. We made our way to our hotel, which might as well have been paradise compared to the hostels that we considered staying in. Clean rooms, privacy, private showers, and comfortable beds are rare luxuries when traveling parent-less throughout Europe.
things got a little emotional
So after sobbing with joy and hugging each other repeatedly as we walked around our hotel room (kidding...kind of), we met up with the rest of our crew, along with some fellow Trojans studying in Madrid, at Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam--naturally, the most American place we could find.
Dubliners+Pat !!

Post-lunch, we meandered around Amsterdam and ventured into the Bulldog, one of the famous coffee shops. For anyone who lives under a rock, coffeeshops in Amsterdam don't sell coffee. Well, they might--I'm not sure actually, but people don't go there to drink coffee. Unless it's laced with marijuana. Hmm...caffeine and weed...an interesting combination. Anyways, being in Amsterdam, we HAD to at least check out one of these famous coffeeshops. It was dark, smokey, and frankly, pretty sketchy. Metal music was playing, accompanied by trippy visuals on several television screens throughout the bar. Shady people were huddled in corners, ceaselessly and dazedly smoking and rolling joints like it was their job. Honestly, the environment alone sufficed to induce the effects of marijuana without even smoking it.
coffeehouse from the outside

on the inside...random sailor statue?
After curiously observing the place for just a few minutes, we headed back to our hotel (aka paradise) to get ready for a night out in Amsterdam. Oh wait, first we went to a candy shop because we all have ADD and subconsciously gravitated towards the bright colors and sugar, without really realizing what was happening. Okay, so we did realize, but maybe after being in such a...corrupt? dirty? mature? (whatever) environment as the coffeeshop, I think we needed some place innocent. And we just wanted candy.
caffeine and sugar...healthy habits!

kids in a candyshop
 So then we went back to the beloved hotel, got all glammed-up, had a spontaneous girl-power pregame accompanied by the sweet sounds of Hilary Duff, circa 2003, and met up with the rest of our crew at a pub crawl (supposedly, "Europe's biggest pub crawl"). Twas spectacular. And foggy?
note the hand-holding

just partyin'

the point...
With a handful of USC kids in Amsterdam, it's pretty much impossible to NOT have a good time. Maybe even a great time. Something to ponder...

Sooo the next morning, or rather afternoon since we didn't actually make it out of our enticingly comfortable hotel room until almost 3pm, we ventured out to do some more Amsterdam exploring. We saw the Van Gogh museum (awesome) and then headed over to the Heineken Brewery. Well, we didn't actually go on the tour or really see any of the inside of the brewery, but we DID go to the gift shop to get matching jackets and hats because we wanted to be 100% sure that every person we passed on the streets knew with absolute certainty that we were American tourists. Based on the amount of gawks that we received, I'd say we were successful. We were quite popular with a group of Spanish men who were on a gay bachelor weekend. Not kidding. They insisted on taking the following photo with us:

3 american chicks and a gay spanish bachelor

They liked us so much that they started a "USA" chant in the middle of the street. I swear, we were just innocent bystanders...although it was pretty fantastic. We met up with guys, excited to roll up in our matching jackets and super cool hats, only to discover that they had the same idea we did...anticlimactic. But then we realized the photo-op potential at hand and quickly remedied the situation.
Heineken Drinking Team-suited up
Prof pic? Duh. Soooooo then we hustled back to our hotel to pretty ourselves up for another raucous night in Amsterdam. We started with a (party) boat tour through the Amsterdam Canal, which was a magical experience. In all seriousness, it was a fantastic way to see the city. A microphoned tour guide told us about all the places we were passing, which was a great way to absorb a little Amsterdam history and culture along with our bottles of wine. See, this was an educational trip. I promise. We saw Anne Frank's house, which was surreal. Just a small, simple, inconspicuous house, but so rich with history. We passed through the infamous Red Light District, which was...bizarre. Rows and rows of windows with scantily clad (haha) women just standing there, posing and pointing at passersby, hoping for a "customer." It was fascinating, in an eerie and disturbing way. 
lovely canal

"can i please have a glass of white wine"
"can i please have a bottle of white wine"

cant escape the rain

friends on a boat

the crew

the crew+our beloved bartender, ryan
"you guys drink too much"
party time
All in all, the boat tour was possibly my favorite amster-tivity (Amsterdam+activity? Did that work?). So, after the boat tour, we hit the town for another night out in Amsterdam. As per usual, fun times were had all around.
outdoor urinals...not normal

more usc friends!


get it

Soooo...then I sort of insisted that the crew check out this place called "Paradiso" that our hotel concierge urged us to go to because it was the "hottest club in Amsterdam." I swear he said that. Either he had a skewed idea of what our definition of the "hottest club" was or he was just messing with us because this place was a full-blown gay club. We literally walked in the door and were greeted by a charming bunch who insisted on dressing us up in ostentatious garb for photographs. We weren't allowed to smile either. 
tyra would be proud
Don't get me wrong, I thought it was fabulous and hilarious, but we were with a big group of guys who were not so down to party in such a...flamboyant atmosphere. Sorry, boys.

Afterwards, we wandered the streets of Amsterdam for a while, which I'm sure was a really safe activity, and then headed back to our hotel, excited to crash for one last night in our oasis of a hotel room with its cloud of a bed.

The next day was a travel day, involving more modes of public transportation in one day than I think I've ever taken in my life (cab to train station, train to bus station, bus to airport, plane to dublin airport, cab to HOME!). The weekend was absolutely incredible, but I was thrilled to get back to Dublin. We all agreed that though Amsterdam was one of the most exciting and unique cities we've ever experienced, Dublin is still our favorite thus far. Like I said in my last post, the Irish are the friendliest people I have ever met, and Dublin is just a much more comfortable, homey place, while still being wildly exciting. I've only been here for three weeks, but it already feels like home, and I know that I am going to be kicking and screaming when I have to leave. This upcoming weekend, we are headed to London, which shall be extraordinary, but I am also really looking forward to spending some more time exploring Dublin and Ireland. Stay tuned for more! 

In the meantime, I'll leave y'all with this super-Irish photo I snapped while riding the double-decker (party) bus on the way into the City Centre after a rainstorm:
just add a leprechaun and a pot of gold
A rainbow in Ireland? Get a little more cliche, Dublin. Geez.


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