The Dutch definitely live differently than we do. For starters, weed is legalized and its normal at dinner to smoke a spliff or joint with your meal. People of all ages were like this. There are "coffee shops" and inside its set up like a bar but instead of drinks you order different types of marijuana. A free spirited lifestyle to say the least. After dinner it was around 11:30 and since Oliver was staying up al night and leaving early in the morning we decided to stay up with him! We walked around for a bit and stopped in front of a canal, sat on the railing and just talked about life. We all couldn't believe that we were where across the world in this city together. It was around 1am when we headed to the Grand Palace and then back to a bar to watch the UK game at 3am. Even though it was 3am there were still so many people out and about. After the game Julia and I could barely keep our eyes open. Oliver left for the bus and we headed back for our hostel. In the morning Helen, Nicole, Julia and I all met up at the Amsterdam sign. It was beyond filled with tourist so we left to go to Vondelpark. Since it was Easter there were families, old people and kids everywhere. It was amazing to see how many people I saw working out. I can't help but think that if Americans had that mentality of staying healthy we all wouldn't be so fat...
A bit later we walked back to Van Gogh square and just sat there laying in the sun enjoying the moment. Next we headed to Bloemenmarkt (which is a flower market) that was floating on the canal. It was beautiful and just walking through the market I couldn't help but think of my mom and how much she would love to be here with me. I would of bought her something to bring home but its illegal to transport plants across countries and I didn't feel like breaking the law that day. It was nice seeing all the tulips, plants, and seeds you could buy though.
Then we took a canal boat tour which was on my to do list in Amsterdam! It lived up to by expectations for sure!! It was amazing to see how the city can be navigated by water. I took some wonderful photos and learned fascinating facts about the city. Most of the cars in the city are electric and the boats are the same way. The city supports eco-friendly machinery and they even have stops all over the city where you can charge your cars. There are also over one million bikes in Amsterdam!! When I say I saw a lot of bikes I mean the THEY WERE EVERYWHERE! I was more afraid of getting hit by a biker than a car. There were even bike parking garages! It was insane.
We went to dinner after and then walked back to our hostels to get a good night of sleep and wake up early for the Anne Frank house. Julia and I started walking at 8 in the morning to the Frank house and on our way we passed the I AMSTERDAM sign. It was the first time we walked by and there was no sign of people anywhere. We of course had to stop and take that perfect photo! Helen and Nicole beat us to the Anne Frank house and were already waiting in line. We decided to get there a hour before it opened at nine because when we walked past the day before the line was insanely long! Thank the Lord that we did because even though we got there early we still waited in line for a hour and a half! As every minute passed more and more people came and the long rapped around the block! There is probably 1000 visitors a day because there were hundreds of people there and it hadn't even opened yet....
Inside the Anne Frank house is something I am not even sure I could describe. Everyone walked in silence as they made their way to each room and floor. It is a tragic story of people forced into hiding. I learned how they spent their days in silence terrified that today would be the day they would be found out. I walked in the kitchen where they ate their meals and the bookcase that hid the Frank family. I saw close up the growth lines of Anne and her sister Margot on the wallpaper. The bedroom where she put up photos from magazines to decorate the plane walls and the diary itself where she wrote everything down. It baffles me that not so long ago this tragic event happened to so many people and families. I watched an interview by Anne's father where he talked about after he found out his family had been killed and when we read the diary for the first time... he said that even though him and Anne were close, a parent never really knows their child. That is such a powerful statement to me that I find to be true. Walking through that house is something that will stay with me and something I will never forget. Her story changed me and has impacted millions of people.
Our adventure ended with a few hotdogs and the Heineken Experience which I have to say was way better than the Guinness Storehouse. We ate a few snacks and got our bus back to the airport. We stayed the night in the hotel attached to the terminal and let me say it was amazing. The best shower I have had since I have been to Europe. I got to watch TV for the first time in what seems life forever and fall asleep in a comfy bed. You would be surprised the little things that you miss.
I want more our of my life and I know people say that they will go see the world someday and do what they want to do but do they ever really do it. Someday for me is today. I am 20 years old and I have already accomplished so much by the willingness to put myself out there. I will finish my degree in a year. I have travelled across the world and lived on my own. I have figured out exactly what kind of person I am and want to be. I have exposed my flaws and promised to work on them and be a better person. I have found a career where I can express and challenge myself. I have grown in many ways and started to pursue the life I have always wanted despite everyone who told me no and thats more than I can say for others. Thats not to say that I haven't had help. My mom and dad have supported me fully and stood by and trusted me to make the right decisions. My siblings have encouraged me to always be myself. My friends have had my back and recognize my accomplishments. I have the best people in my life that will always be there for me.
I'm proud of where I am. even though I am exactly where I want to be I've found that its hard letting go of the past. The demons that I have tried so hard to leave behind always find there way back to me in some form...I can lie and say that I don't let them get to me because that would be a lot easier than admitting whats real. The truth is not something I allow myself to tell most of the time. I would rather pretend or make things up then tell people whats actually going on and I fooled almost everyone in my life at one time or another. That is such a sad statement but once again it is whats true. I'm sorry for all the lies that I have told especially to my family because you mean more to me than anything else. I want you to know that I am working on it and that I am happier than I have ever been. I am stronger now than I was before and I hope you can see that. I'm not sure if my past will ever stop creeping up on me or if I will stop feeling the ache within myself but I'm proud that they don't have any power over me. I think without them I wouldn't have the compassion that I do for others. I wouldn't be able to see past other peoples masks. I wouldn't be me.
Dad I made a promise to you when we sat on that bench at the lakehouse looking down at the water. I want you to know that I've kept my promise. Honesty, if it wasn't for you making me swear to it I probably wouldn't of lasted as long as I have. I don't know how much it meant to you or even if you remember it but it meant everything to me. It was the first time in a long time I talked with you and felt okay to not be ashamed and to just be honest with you. I love you, mom, jimmy, josh and jori so much I could cry. I just wish you guys could be here with me experiencing this incredible journey I am on.
Mom I also want you to know that I have found my strength these past months through the Lord.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -1 Corinthians 13:4
sorry for any typos I am really tired and too lazy to reread this. Mom if you see any text me and I will change it:)