My Amsterdam Trip: Here’s What I Learned

It’s about 10AM and I’m at the airport in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. I’m about to board my plane back to Malta. I have mixed feelings about it.

I enjoyed visiting Amsterdam and a part of me doesn’t want to let go of the good feeling you get when you’re traveling. But I also feel like returning to some normalcy. Four days was enough to get the full experience of Amsterdam. I’m kind of worn out now.

(But I’m also not looking forward to the heat in Malta. I loved the cold in Amsterdam)

I guess I have to get on the plane.

I Found Inner Peace

Four days in Amsterdam did me a lot of good. My life had become too chaotic. I was juggling too many freelance jobs and wasn’t managing my time well because I was so overwhelmed.

I wanted to visit Amsterdam to return to Malta with a new mindset.

What I wanted was to relax, to have some time for myself and to be far away from my life, the people, the responsibilities and especially, work.

I wanted to travel to Amsterdam to be completely alone and free in the world. I like the fact that no one knows me, no one can judge me or condition me. I don’t like it when people try to force things onto me. And sometimes, life can be like that. I don’t like it, but have to adhere to it I guess.

Amsterdam was meant to be a place where I could breathe and do whatever I wanted with no care or bother to the world.

I wanted to feel like my old self, from back in Michigan, who was at peace with herself. I liked how chill I was. I was never rushing anywhere. I spoke slowly. I wasn’t stressed. I didn’t let work get to me. I wasn’t bothered by people because I didn’t let them effect me.

I wanted to visit Amsterdam to revive that part of me that doesn’t give a shit about any surrounding things that don’t have to effect me.

And I found inner peace. I knew I would. All I needed was a break from Malta. I feel like myself again. It feels good to return to this wholesome-ness.

What Did I Notice

I noticed how different everything is in Amsterdam – the systems, the customs, behaviors – are all different to what I know.

The place looked different too. The streets were wide and cobble-stone. Amsterdam isn’t hilly like Malta – it’s flat and that’s why it’s so nice to walk around the place.

And there’s barely any cars here. The few that pass by are all electric so they’re silent. The locals ride bicycles everywhere (I almost got run over a few times).

The buildings are tiny which means the apartments are tiny. I mean, smaller than New York, yet they’re aesthetically pleasing. The government has strict skyline laws and actually enforces them (both are non-existent in Malta). All the buildings in Amsterdam are tops 4 stories high.

The people seem carefree too. They’re not rushing anywhere and they’re not stressed. The people aren’t loud too (so unlike Malta).

And that put me into perspective on how small Malta is. One has to admit that living on an island makes you feel like the island is the whole world and everything is right there – but it’s not.

And Maltese people need to realize that there’s such a big world out there and there’s so many different ways of living that we don’t experience on an island.

Amsterdam Is Clearly Not lLike Malta

I saw a lot of Amsterdam in four days. You can legit walk everywhere. I got a four-day bus/train/metro pass and it was the best €25 I spent on the trip.

I (tried) to do some thrifting yet was unsuccessful because all the stores had the same shit. The thrift stores were cool but I couldn’t find anything my style. After visiting seven thrift stores, (yes, seven!) I noticed a lack of choice. And the stores weren’t cheap either.

Which leads me to discuss money. Amsterdam is not cheap. So many people visit the Dutch city that the touristy places are expensive. A burger will cost you at least €12 (without fries).

The souvenir stores were rip-offs. I bought an insane black top with glow-in-the-dark neon for €36 (I just had to buy it).

A half pint beer also cost me €6.50. Not a full pint! I know that alcohol is expensive in most countries, but that’s sick. I feel we sometimes take for granted how cheap alcohol is in Malta.

Transportation in Amsterdam is really convenient. You can catch either a tram or bus to almost everywhere and you’ll get there in less than 15 minutes.

On my first day in Amsterdam, I couldn’t figure out how to catch the metro from my hostel to Centraal Station and I got really frustrated. On the second day, I got the hang of it and yesterday, I almost felt like a local. I knew where everything was because it was so easy.

It almost felt like I was in New York, but way quieter.

I also got to walk through the Red Light District area. For those that don’t know the place, the Red Light District is the legal version of Paceville.

Prostitutes sit in front of windows wearing very little clothing and if you’re interested, you just knock on the door and they let you in for some fun.

You won’t ever see something like this anywhere else in the world but in Amsterdam.

Yes, it is a unique place and I’m glad I chose the city for my short vacation.

The Rijksmuseum

I visited the Rijksmuseum which is full of the most beautiful artworks you could possibly think of. From the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance, Romanticism, and even Modern Art, the Rijksmuseum truly represented every age of Art History.

Although the majority of the painters were Dutch (so I didn’t know any of them), there was a lot to appreciate. It felt like walking into the past and observing how different the world was back then and how different the world’s way of thinking was.

Our technological era would shock these people.

What I noticed was how much they used to appreciate Art. They turned everything into Art – copper, wood, marble, plates, jewelry, musical instruments, furniture – Art was status.

My favorite piece at the Rijksmuseum was the Portrait of Emperor Napoleon I:

I freaked out when I saw the painting. It’s so big that it’s almost life-size.

And here are Louis Napoleon (Napoleon’s brother & King of Holland) and King William I (King of the Netherlands):

Stunning pieces.

And here were some Romantic paintings that struck me:

The artists used the paint itself to create texture, mix the colors to show how blurry life is, and capture the chaos of reality.

Seeing all these artworks made me think of the current Art world. We’re facing a crisis right now – we don’t know what to create and how to make it different.

The reason why our time is called the ‘Contemporary’ is because we’re shifting into the next age and we don’t know how it’ll look like yet. Right now, we’re still trying to get our bearings.

One could compare our age to Modernism. The Modernists had defined artistic angles; they were breaking free from conventional systems, whereas, today, we’re still trying to reason out and project what it is we are feeling in our age which is why I think Contemporary Art is very fluid.

The Van Gogh Museum

I couldn’t visit Amsterdam without stopping by the Van Gogh Museum – if you’re visiting, don’t miss out on this experience.

Van Gogh was an early thinker for his time (1850-80s). He was a colorist who used to blend colors into each other. He used the paint to give texture with each stroke. One must understand how much detail must have been given to each stroke to create the right effect of color.

Although he has many self-portraits, Van Gogh only painted himself to study facial expressions. The majority of his paintings show him wearing a farmer’s hat to which represents that he came from farmland.

He notes that it was his self-portraits of him painting that were actually intended to be self-portraits – he wanted to show people that he was now a defined artist.

Early Van Gogh wanted to represent farm people and their real human experiences, therefore, he created multiple paintings of them. He believed that there was more value in working the land and being close to nature than being part of the bourgeoisie class. Most people during his time found this laughable.

The Potato Eaters by Van Gogh

He was also a Romantic in a way. Lots of his work captured beautiful scenes of trees, fields, and the sea. Van Gogh loved being surrounded by nature and hated the big cities. He chose very bright colors to uplift people and create contrasts you wouldn’t think actually worked.

Yep, was definitely worth the visit. I feel like I got to know Van Gogh as an artist.

I Learned 2 Things On My Trip

Sometimes, 1) the more you want to be alone, the more you’re going to find new people to relate to.

I’m not so good with new people – I think that’s one of the effects the pandemic left on me. Yet I managed to meet new people on my journey that I shared experiences with – like the bar lady called Rose and the two Texan guys.

At one point during my journey, I got this one thought that’s been occupying my mind: “Would I live in Amsterdam? It seems so perfect.”

Lots of people leave their country and move to another to live somewhere new, yet I started to wonder would I want to?

My answer was immediate: no.

I want to travel throughout my life but right now, I don’t think I’d want to stay somewhere new permanently.

For example, I’m not from Amsterdam. I would initially find it too alien for me. I would get used to it eventually but I’d want a home.

Somewhere I belong.

Understand that ever since my family left America when I was ten, I haven’t had an emotional home. Brick and furniture are just physical – doesn’t mean it’s a home. I want to pour myself into a place that represents me.

So that’s the second thing I realized in Amsterdam: 2) what I’m looking for in this life is somewhere to call: home. Somewhere to settle and find stability.

I’ve moved apartments too much in these past four years and I think it’s starting to take a toll on me now. And I won’t find my home anytime soon – but there’s a right time for everything.

What’s Next?

Well, I’m back to work tomorrow but I feel this trip has helped me. We’re all healing from the pandemic in different ways.

This trip was almost meant to be a predatory trip for something bigger coming up this summer.

But you’ll hear all about it another time – when the time’s right.

For now, I’ll see you in a bit, Malta.

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