Last week I wrote about the first three cities I went to Rotterdam, The Hague, and Ghent here. This week I will share more about Ghent and then talk about my experience in Amsterdam and Masstrict.
My favorite part of Ghent was the Castle of Counts. I was impressed by the fact that it was built of stone in a time when there wasn’t much technology. It is quite amazing what people can accomplish even without today’s tools. The tour was self-guided and we received an audio device along with headphones. The areas were numbered and we pressed the number to get information about that area. The castle was built by Count Philip in 1180 who had a lot of money and wanted to flaunt it. Inside the castle, there is a torture dungeon with a wide collection of torture equipment. In part of the tour, I learned about some of the most scandalous cases that ended in gruesome death. From people being boiled alive to stretch apart to death, the punishment wasn’t to teach the person a lesson but use the person as a lesson to the surviving townspeople.
Every city has a vibe from New York to London. This does largely depend on your personality and what you actually do in the city, but it doesn’t take away the fact there is something different about each city. What I found surprising about Amsterdam is that despite all the things that are legal, from my experience it is a pretty calm city. Do take into consideration that I am comparing this to New York that is bursting with energy and noise. Compared to New York the city is more laid back. This is not a bad thing, just an observation. What I liked most about Amsterdam is the chill environment along with the historic architecture.
The first thing my friends and I did was took a canal tour. We were able to get some facts about the history of the city and some facts about the structure of the buildings. The front of the buildings are at an angle to fit furniture through the windows. Since people were charged based on the width of the building, they built them narrowly. Hence why the furniture was sent through the windows. After the tour, we got some Belgium fries. We had a choice of about 20 different sauces, maybe more. When I got to the cashier I asked him if I could get one medium serving with two sauces. Fatima and I planned on sharing. He told us we could. It should have dawned on me that I was paying to two servings when he told me the price, but I have vacation brain. My vacation brain spends money like there’s no end to it. So we both ended up with our own medium fry, which we thought was too much, but it was just enough. Also, it seemed like there wasn’t enough sauce to cover the fries, but it was a perfect amount. Not too much and not too little.
Next, we went to Body World’s museum. It is a museum filled with real human bodies donated to science. Put that way it seems like it would be cringy (unless your into that type of thing), but actually, it has lots of information about the human body. We took an elevator to the 6th floor and walk down to each floor which covered each section of the human body from inside out. There was a positive message posted on the walls of each stairwell. The bottom line of all the messages was that you can control your happiness. Actually, the theme of the whole museum was about being in charge of your own happiness, which was unexpected, yet I enjoyed it.
As we left the museum and walked down the street to the main square we walked directly into the Ratha Yatra celebration which is some type of Indian festival that is celebrated at different times all over the world. On top of that, there was a group of protesters and a christen concert. All of this was happening in Dam Square and yes it was very busy. We walked around the city some more, took a stroll through the red light district to see what it was about, and found a nice Italian spot to eat at. We ended our night at a nice coffee shop and had coffee and tea.
We decided to go to Maastricht because it was the furthermost south we could go to the Netherlands. The city is near the borders of Belgium and Germany. Our whole trip we wanted to ride bikes and this was our last chance. That plan didn’t work out for us so we decided to walk around. After we had lunch it started to rain a little. It wasn’t as exciting as the other cities but it was nice to see something different. We went and left, then went back to Amsterdam to enjoy some more tea and coffee.
We didn’t have any plans of what we would see in each city we just had a list of places we wanted to go. Not having a rigid schedule gave us room to discover new places and have a new experience. How do you like to travel? Are you the type to travel with a plan or to just go with the flow? Comment below.