My Shotgun Rider

Less than a week after I returned from Greece, I picked up my boyfriend, Kyle, from the airport after his long flight from California. He stayed for a total of two weeks, during which time we explored Tübingen and the surrounding area, visited some friends of his in a neighboring state, and made a trip up to Amsterdam.

The trip to Amsterdam began only a few days after Kyle arrived in Germany. We flew with Germanwings to Schiphol International Airport, and navigated to our Airbnb, where we met our host and picked up the keys. Because we arrived at night, we only had time to find a place to eat dinner, and a grocery store for some nutritional supplies.

On our first morning, we hopped on the tram towards the heart of Amsterdam. We had gotten to know our way around just a bit the night before, when we wandered around looking for some food. We exited the tram and walked through the canals to meet up for a bike tour that we had reserved.

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As I have said before, and will say again over and over again, I love bike tours. The people that run these businesses just seem so much happier than other tourist-oriented organizations, and the tour leaders are incredibly friendly and helpful. The tours are designed to show you the best parts of the city, including plenty of insider locations, views, tips, and information.

We took a tour through Mike’s Bike Tours, a company that is also located in Munich. When my dad and brother came to visit, we did their Munich Classic Tour and had a great time. In Amsterdam, Kyle and I chose to do Mike’s Countryside Tour, so that we would have a chance to get out of the city and see some things that we wouldn’t otherwise see.

Our first stop was a windmill just outside the city limits, next to the Amstel River. The windmill, called de Riekermolen, dates all the way back to 1636. It was constructed in order to help drain the region of excess water, allowing people to move in and cultivate the land.

 

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Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, better known as just Rembrandt, was born in the Netherlands.

After checking out the windmill, we biked over to a cheese and clog factory down the road. Yes, cheese and clogs; this place does it all. We took a tour through the factory, learning about the process of cheese making, and how the cheese differs from other kinds of cheese. We also saw how clogs begin as little blocks of wood, and end up as cute (and surprisingly comfortable) wooden shoes.

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I would totally rock these in my garden.

We spent the rest of the tour riding through the Dutch countryside, checking out more windmills while our leader told us about the history of Amsterdam, and why people live there at all. It used to be swampland, and because of this, there were no property taxes. That got around pretty quickly, and soon, people were erecting windmills all over and clearing out the water so that they could get to constructing houses and farms. Today, we have a beautiful city and astounding surrounding lands!

For the rest of our trip, Kyle and I walked around the city, checking out things that interested us. We walked to the Anne Frank House, and then continued right on past it, having seen for ourselves the line of legend that winds for blocks. We visited the National Maritime Museum (Scheepvaartmuseum – I love the Dutch language), and got to explore a replica of a cargo ship known as the East Indiaman, who was lost in 1749.

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O Captain! my captain! our fearful trip has just begun

We also checked out a local brewery that is located inside/underneath a windmill, called Brouwerij ‘t IJ (no, I don’t know how to say that). Unfortunately, we just missed their last tour, but we happily stuck around to consume a flight of their beer (which led to a hunt for a few more IPAs after that…oh how I miss those).

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The locally brewed Dutch beer certainly slaked our thirsts.

Of course, we had to check out a few of Amsterdam’s legendary coffee shops. A huge word of warning to visitors: there is indeed a difference between cafés and coffee shops. If you are craving your caffeine fix, then head for a nice, cozy café. However, you probably won’t find what you are looking for at a coffee shop. While most coffee shops do indeed have a coffee machine behind the counter, what they are most well-stocked with is a mesmerizing variety of marijuana.

Dutch views on marijuana, along with other drugs, is that every human being has the right to decide upon matters of his or her own health and recreational activities. Additionally, the Dutch have found that attempting to eradicate drugs is, in application, fruitless, however controlling and regulating them makes enforcing drug policies much more feasable.

Because of this, one can enter a coffee shop and have a casual conversation with the “barista” about what sort of strain would suit your mood best. Kyle and I visited a few shops, observing the atmosphere and experiencing what it might be like for US citizens if marijuana were to be legalized nationwide. I do not wish to use this blog to advocate my stance on the matter, but I would simply like to say that the atmosphere in each shop we visited (maybe 5 or 6 in total) was lighter and friendlier than a majority of bars I have visited.

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We had a great time in Amsterdam, although we did not get to see everything, as is the case when one only has a few days in a city. The streets and canals were gorgeous and an attraction in themselves; we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly just moseying about and looking around. All too soon, we found ourselves flying back to Germany.

Shortly after we got back from Amsterdam, we took a few days to head a few hours north and visit some friends of Kyle’s in Wiesbaden, Hessen. It rained most of the time, so we spent some quality time indoors, talking, laughing, and sampling a variety of German brews. We did venture out for a walk when the rain had eased up a bit, and checked out the surrounding village. Our time with the Douglas family was unfortunately short, but filled with lots of laughter, amazing food, and fantastic memories.

 

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Kyle and me with Kaitlin, stopping for a photo on our walk

 

I tried to keep Kyle as entertained and impressed as possible during the next week, which, let’s be honest, was super easy. Germany is breathtaking, especially Baden-Württemberg, full of gorgeous castles and marvelous views.

We spent a day visiting Schloss Liechtenstein, which is about an hour and a half’s distance away, by train, bus, and foot. Although somewhat small, compared to other castles, Liechtenstein makes up for its size through looks. This glorified hunting lodge is situated on the edge of a high cliff, which allowed for awesome photos.

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An awesome visual reward after a moderate hike up to the castle.

The monthly flea market was in town on the second weekend of Kyle’s visit, so we headed over to see what we could find. I picked up a couple of old German coins, along with an industrial strength emery board that has earned its 2€ worth time and again. We also ran across a candy truck, with the sweetest sauer man I have ever met. We collected some delicious sweets that lasted us for the next few days.

Two weeks flew by unbelievably fast, and before we knew it, we were saying goodbye. Our time together in Germany was unforgettable, and I am so grateful that he was able to make the journey out to see me. Some more photos from our time together are in the slideshow below, so check them out if you’d like.

I have some really exciting posts coming up, so check back in every now and then, and yell at me if you don’t see them soon, would you? I appreciate each and every one of you readers, thank you so much for your support! Till next time, tschüss!

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