Friday, September 24, 2021 | Written by Mira
My actual birthday was the Monday following this weekend and would be celebrated by a day of classes. So, I decided to celebrate early and check some cities and experiences off my bucket list! What started as a stressful Thursday turned into the most memorable birthday weekend. A physics lab and a Covid-19 test later, two friends and I were on our way to Luxembourg for leg 1 of our weekend adventure.
Day 1: Luxembourg
The train from Metz to Luxembourg is covered by the 3-month unlimited Eurail pass without any extra reservation fees. After one of my friends finished her class, we hopped on a train for dinner in Luxembourg. We walked around a town square, passing by calm coffee shops and beautifully decorated side streets. Luxembourg seemed to be one of the calmest cities I’ve been to. After dinner and some delicious mousse at Café Veneziano (1 Pl. d’Armes, 1136 Luxembourg), we walked towards the sunset and into a large park, meandering with no set destination when one of my friends noticed a column of bright blue lights, which we just had to follow.
To our utter surprise, we stumbled upon a German-Luxembourgish fair with many carnival games and rides( maybe Luxembourg isn’t as calm as we initially thought)! After some confusion of how to get tickets for rides due to the language barrier, we ended up in line for a ride called “Circus Circus,” a ride that spins in three frames of reference at the same time! In our little group of three sets of seats, we were definitely screaming the loudest and were laughing constantly, which led some Luxembourgish teenage boys to laugh at us, but hey, at least we had fun. Finding this carnival was a gem and we considered it a promising sign for the rest of our travels this weekend… what else would be stumble upon?
Something I find absolutely fascinating about Luxembourg is the emphasis of languages. We looked up what the official language of Luxembourg is, and there’s actually three (Luxembourgish, German, and French), but most Luxembourgers speak at least four languages! The employees at the hotel we stayed at seamlessly transitioned between German, French, and English when talking to different guests. The next day on the train, we sat near two girls who were speaking all three languages to each other, sometimes all in the same sentence!
Day 2: Trains
I could probably write a whole novel about the trains we had on this trip. On Friday, we experienced everything from a surprise transfer in a run-down Belgian train station, a cancellation of said transfer, a last-minute platform change for said transfer, a delay of said transfer (while we were on the train), and a missed connection (because of the cancellation and delay). Nonetheless, we made it to Amsterdam! Even though we were an hour behind schedule, we weren’t too stressed because the Eurail app allowed us to easily find and change itineraries, especially since none of the trains required seat reservations.
For our first evening, we decided to take it easy, find some dinner, and walk around the canals. After scoring a 5 euro dinner at an Italian-Argentinian restaurant in the Netherlands, we stumbled upon another great surprise! In the town square in front of the Royal Palace, there was a concert set up. Fancily dressed people were scanning a QR code and entering the gates. One of the security guards told us that this was a once-a-year Royal Orchestra concert and tickets sold out two weeks ago. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go in, but since the concert was outdoors, we could still hear it. We stood outside the gates listening to the lovely orchestral music with a view of a Dutch Royal Palace with cyclists zigzagging through the crowd. Everything seemed so cinematic.
Day 3: Amsterdam
Today was our first and only full day in Amsterdam! For popular attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, you need to make reservations well in advance, which we were unaware of, (so maybe we will revisit Amsterdam later in the semester) but we made the most of what was available to us on short notice. The night before, we reserved tickets for the Royal Palace, so we started our day in regal style, walking around the palace, learning about the history of Amsterdam and the architecture of the building, which had a large Roman mythology influence.
After the Royal Palace, I needed coffee. The night before, we had found a bakery called Lourens (Oude Leliestraat 15, 1016 BD Amsterdam, Netherlands) that claimed to have the best iced coffee in Amsterdam, so we had to put it to the test. Not only was the iced coffee delicious, but the workers were so sweet! After a not-so-quick impromptu photo shoot with a random light green bicycle on a canal, we headed towards the Tulip Museum, which has student tickets for 3 euros! The museum is quite small, but we learned a lot about how tulips ended up in Holland and how tulip fields are maintained. I guess this was as close to actual fields of colorful tulips as we were going to get in autumn (if you’re at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in the Spring, please go to a tulip field in April for me).
Our next stop of the day was one of my bucket list items: canal cruise in Amsterdam. There are many different places you could go to get tickets, or you can buy them online. We opted for the I Amsterdam x Circle Line canal cruise. A 75-minute tour of Amsterdam from the canals, learning about the history of Amsterdam and the canals – did you know that there are more than twice as many bicycles as people in Amsterdam?
After the incredible canal cruise, we stopped by a chocolate shop, Puccini Bomboni (Singel 184, 1016 AA Amsterdam, Netherlands) near the best iced coffee bakery and waved to the friendly barista who remembered us, and the chocolatier offered me a free truffle for my upcoming birthday! We spent the rest of the day and evening walking around the beautiful canals, grabbing dinner at one of the many Argentinian restaurants. The way the lights reflected off the canals was so picturesque, but no phone camera could capture the way the water glistened.
I don’t think you can capture Amsterdam in a day. Honestly, I don’t even think you could see Amsterdam in its entirety in a weekend or even a week. I hope I get to come back at some point during the semester and see the things we missed, see the golden leaves in later autumn, and eat a famous stroopwafel.