SBP in the Netherlands 2018: On the Waterfront

Antonio Lampon

The schedule for Monday was tight. The plan was that Rosanne, my host, and I would take a train into Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank Museum; go for a boat ride along the Amsterdam canals, and finish the day exploring Dam Square. 

After rallying the whole group at Castricum railway station, we hopped on a scenic train ride that led us right into Amsterdam’s Central Station. We got off and were immediately bombarded by views of a massive bike parking lot. This two-story building had no roof and housed thousands of bikes strung up and locked against rails. It looked like a parking lot that you would see in the U.S, just filled with a seemingly endless colorful wave of bikes. Riders find their spot, lock up their bike, and leave. 

We walked to the Anne Frank House. When we arrived, we entered rather quickly and were on our way through the museum. Visiting the house was a great experience that gave us all historical insight into what the Netherlands was like 70 years ago. 

After the museum, we walked over to a nearby boat service that takes passengers through the canals of Amsterdam. The ride was a great way to spend time with each other while sightseeing, and it was great that we did not have to be outside in the weather that seems to be colder and windier than it is in New Jersey. We saw how some residents literally live on the water. There are certain boats that double as houses and can receive electricity, gas, and plumbing from the city. These “boat houses” ran along both sides of the wide canals. Everyone had a great time, and it gave me personally a chance to talk to a lot of the Dutch students whom I had not yet spoken with.

As we moved through the city, we enjoyed its architecture as much as its other sights and sounds.

After hopping off the boat, we were able to explore Dam Square along with our hosts. Dam Square is their Time Square, just without all the billboards and lights. Circling a large monument, it is home to their Royal Palace, a lot of big-name clothing stores, coffee shops, and is the center of the hustle in Amsterdam. We had lunch at a Dutch pancake house. Their pancakes are sort of like crepes just slightly thicker, and they cook certain foods into them. We ended our exploration with some refreshments from Starbuck’s and met back up with the group. After getting everyone together, we left Amsterdam for the day.

Canal boats located along the waterfront can serve as homes as well as house bikes and other belongings.