Amsterdam / Prague / Copenhagen

Amsterdam / Prague / Copenhagen

Stroopwafels. Taking forever to pay because you don’t understand how to pay with coins (yes, I was officially that American). Getting stranded in a random passageway in Prague when an unexpected rainstorm occurs and an angry restaurant owner yells at you in Czech. Being asked by the concerned hostel employee at 6am if you’re alright (yes, I was just trying to make my flight). Being high-fived by a Dutch taxi driver who barely speaks any English because you’re single.  Being asked by a random tourist at 8am in Amsterdam what sights were good to see for the “memories.” Uh... the Anne Frank house? I reply.  These were just a few highlights of my vacation.

I first flew into Amsterdam (with a four hour stopover in London where I could barely understand the custom officer’s English accent) because I was meeting up with some of my friends there! I’d been in Amsterdam four years earlier since I studied abroad in the Netherlands through Emerson College (Kasteel Well Summer ‘14 represent). Therefore, I was a seasoned veteran who knew how to deftly dodge the hoards of bicyclers and where to obtain the much coveted stroopwafels.

Highlights of Amsterdam included: The Van Gogh Museum (I now have a newfound appreciation for his work), EYE Film Institute (a short free ferry ride from the Centraal station and features many strange Dutch films), walking around Jordaan (Amsterdam’s hipster neighborhood) and watching Ramon vape while spinning a fidget spinner.  I also stayed at an absurdly hipster hostel that had a DJ play music in the evenings. 10/10 would recommend.

After two days of Amsterdam, I flew into Prague. I had been pretty nervous about going to Prague since a) I had never been to central Europe before and b) I wasn’t sure how well everyone would know English. Luckily my fears were immediately assuaged as every single sign in Prague was in both Czech and English (in fact, the English words would be in a larger font size than the Czech. Good for me but unfortunate for the native Czechs).

Prague was unlike any place I had ever visited. It was relatively unscathed during World War 2 so it retained many of its old buildings and historical monuments. But also the Soviet influence can be visibly seen. The whole city looks and feels like something out of an old Disney animated film. In fact, one of my thoughts while walking around the Old Town district was “huh, why does this remind me of Paris?” Fun fact: It turns out that much of the Jewish Ghetto (which is next to Old Town) was destroyed at the end of the 1800s to make room for more buildings modeled after Paris. So… uh… fun?

If you like historical things, Prague is the perfect city for you. I explored the Prague castle (the largest ancient castle in all of Europe and it shows), wandered around Old City, visited the Franz Kafka museum (as eerie and unsettling as the author himself), passed by the Dancing House, ate Poutine at a hipster Canadian restaurant, and was turned away from the Bio Oko because their films were only in Czech (fun fact, they do play The Rocky Horror Picture Show!)

After a few days of Prague, I made the spontaneous decision to end my stay there early and fly into Copenhagen. My flight back to America already included a stopover in Copenhagen so why not go there a day before? It was one of the best decisions I made during that trip. Copenhagen is just cool. It has such a unique, clean vibe with graphic design sensibilities that I love. The Danish people are a proud people which I soon discovered. There were Danish flags everywhere and very few signs were in English (therefore I did get lost a few times). Despite this, the Danish people were extremely nice and a few people saw I was clearly lost and helped me without my asking them.

Enlisting the help of my friend orange_wedge, I was able to see most of the historical sights in one day. I went to Nyhavn (the harbor), Strøget (lots of cool shops), Amalienborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle and so on. It was extremely windy the day I went there so I had war flashbacks of living in Boston. Since I was only there for a day, I didn’t have time to do everything I wanted to do. I would go back and go to the Design museum and ride some rollercoasters in Tivoli Gardens (which apparently inspired Walt Disney to make Disneyland).  

Overall, my trip to Europe was really fun! I had a blast hanging out with my friends in Amsterdam. My solo trips to Prague and Copehagen were also really fun. I know a lot of people don’t like traveling by themselves (which I get) but traveling alone allowed me to set my own schedule (I like to wake up pretty early and do the majority of my exploring in the mornings and afternoon) and let me see exactly what I wanted. I’d recommend everyone travel solo at least once in their lives.

On a last note, I was inspired by the subreddit /r/OneBag which encourages its users to travel minimally by having all their travel possessions fit inside one backpack. Since I already live a minimalistic lifestyle, this was a natural step for me to take. The photo below is what I brought (doesn’t include toiletries or underwear-I figure I’d spare the internet of that). It was a great decision to travel with only a backpack since I didn’t have to check in any luggage and could travel on cheap airlines as a result! I saved a lot of money that way.

Packing list:
-REI 28L Co-Op Backpack
-Canon 60D w/ 35mm lens
-Chuck Taylor All Stars white high top sneakers
-T-Shirts, shorts, 1 pair of grey jeans, underwear, pajamas
-Cochlear implant rechargable batteries + charger
-iPad w/ Apple Pencil
-Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis
-Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hotel shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, hairbrush)

How did I make everything fit into the backpack? Rolling the clothes and fitting everything very strategically like tetris pieces.

‘Til next time Europe!