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Erasmus Shenanigans "Not all those who wander are lost"

Amsterdam- Part 1

NETHERLANDS | Monday, 20 February 2017 | Views [772] | Comments [1]

Amsterdam (New Year's Eve)

My heart was racing with excitement! Amsterdam is one of the most popular holiday destinations for students in the UK. I'd heard all the stories and for the past two years I'd been telling myself, I would go there soon. And soon had finally arrived! As you exit Amsterdam Centraal train station, you are met with huge, mysteriously lit buildings whose reflections waver in the calmness of the canals. The energy reverberating from the city hits you immediately. I was blown away by the vast number of people, who were all heading into the heart of the city on New Year's Eve. I heard more British accents than Dutch and everyone seemed to be at various levels of intoxication. Gleicy had researched the best location to view the midnight fireworks. Magere Bridge promised a panoramic view of the festivities and a smaller crowd than Dam Square, where the main fireworks would be set off. We headed on with the masses, dodging bicycles from left, right and centre. I had a flashback to the same day in 2015. I was in Rome with Veena and we had been warned about the usual things that come along with big public events; thieves, harassment, drugs etc. So focused on having my guard up at all times. 

New Year's Eve is the only day in the entire year that the Dutch government legalises the use of fireworks by the public. There were bombs going off every few minutes, setting surrounding car alarms off and frightening the hell out of me. I clung on to Gleicy, feeling like a small girl in a big world. However, she seemed a lot calmer than me, as if she knew what to expect. I watched the crowd all night but the strangest incident occured while I was waiting in line for the ATM. An old man stood beside the queue, took out his water bottle from his back pack and slowly poured the entire contents onto the pavement. Everybody watched him in fascination. He put it back in his bag and just left. This was one of the more 'normal incidents' that I encountered that night. After we got cash, we walked straight towards Dam Square, the bangs getting louder and the crowd getting denser as we approached.

There were some crazy vibes in that square. Police and ambulances blazed past us every now and then. One guy came up to us and asked if he could take a picture with us. We accepted in good sport, but then he asked us something in a different language and tried to kiss my cheek for the next picture. I said 'Hahahaha no way, nice try', Gleicy looked shocked and we decided now was a good time to explore the rest of the city. It was only 10.30 pm, and we walked up and down the long main roads, grabbing a drink on the way. The shops were crowded, most of them staying open all night to make, what I assumed would be their biggest profit of the year. I started to relax a little and enjoy myself. We slowly walked back up to Dam Square after deciding most of the action would be there for the next hour.  On the way we passed a man murmuring 'Ecstasy...ecstasy?'. The realization of where I was deepened, and I giggled.  

It's a small world! After travelling as much as I did, you realise just how small it is. Do you believe in destiny and fate? Some things cannot be explained by science, so I do. Therefore, I shall use my agnostic opinion to explain what happened next. We reached the corner of Dam Square with the Ripley's Museum and were waiting to cross the road when Gleicy gasped and pointed to someone. 'Do you remember him?' she asked. I did. They were two Brazilian guys (surprise surprise) that had stopped Gleicy in the Museum Quarter in Berlin and asked for directions. They had gotten chatting and she later told me that they would be in Amsterdam during the same dates. And in this massive crowd of hundreds of thousands of people, Gleicy and them had spotted each other. Naturally, we joined their group and met their friends, two other Brazilian guys. The six of us shifted to the centre of Dam Square again. We didn't stop shifting while we were there. Every few minutes a firework would go off a few metres away from us. It got more and more dangerous so we decided to head towards Magere's Bridge. We arrived even though it was only 11.15 pm and as if on cue, it started drizzling. Living in the UK, I had grown to expect rain on nights with fireworks. This didn't dampen my excitement though! It was pretty cold, just standing around on the bridge so the boys went off to grab beers and we followed to keep our muscles moving. The bar they entered was overflowing with people to the point of not being able to move inside, and my idea to make a quick toilet run vanished.  

It was now 11.40 pm and the bridge was much more crowdeda sign that this would indeed give us a good view. The atmosphere was buzzing and finally, it was time for the countdown. 10...9...start recording a Snapchat video...8...7...grin at the Brazilians...6...5...grin at strangers around me...4...3...look up at the sky...2...1...'HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!'. The night sky lit up with red, gold, green and purple sparkles and it felt amazing to start of 2017 this way. We started wishing each other for a good year ahead and everything felt good at that moment. Life felt right. I thought about all the adventures that awaited for me and I felt content. The fireworks continued long after we left. We said goodbye to the guys and arranged to meet them again when we moved to Amsterdam. However, the walk back to Amsterdam Centraal to catch the last train at 2.30 am to Den Haag was less than magical.  

For my UEA peeps, the entire city looked like the LCR at 2 am when the lights turn on. To everyone else, it was the most disgusting sight and I felt so sorry for those who had the job of cleaning up the next day. I should have taken a picture; the benches were fully occupied with unfinished KFC buckets, there were mountains of garbage on every street and about a million empty bottles strewn all over the city. People were at their drunkest (and most dangerous when on bicycles) and one man tried talking to me and annoyingly kept pushing me side ways because he was incapable of walking straight. However, I'd prepared myself for this and just grabbed Gleicy's hand until we were outside the station. We made it back to the hostel in Den Haag at around 4 am and completely crashed. We had braved Amsterdam on New Year's Eve and come out unharmed and better yet, with some unforgettable memories. 


Standing on Magere's Bridge ready for the New Year fireworks

Standing on Magere's Bridge ready for the New Year fireworks

Tags: amsterdam, fireworks, new years eve




Rome or Amsterdam for NYE ?!

  poongi Feb 18, 2017 1:37 AM

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