The canals in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam: Reflections


It’s easy to get lost here, but it’s just as easy to get found.

That was the first thing I wrote in my Amsterdam journal, sitting alone in a restaurant, on my first night in Amsterdam.

So, did it turn out to be more than just my observations of the city plan, did it turn out to be a metaphor for my trip, did it turn out to be a metaphor for my life?

More than anything in the world I needed this trip. I needed Amsterdam.

Quite honestly I was a completely different person here and I hope upon hope that I can take that person back with me.

I was thoroughly prepared to say here that this was the best experience and the worst experience of my life.

It was lonely, it was scary, it was nerve racking.

But I did it.

I did it.

Everyone kept telling me that I was brave for doing this by myself. And I’d say No. No I’m not brave.

But I want to be.

After that first night I didn’t think I would be able to cope for a whole week and now I never want to leave.

This last week the most important thing I have ever experienced. The greatest thing I have ever experienced. And I know now that I can do it. I can travel alone. That everything will always be OK.

Did I get lost here? Yes. But did I find my way.

The canals in Amsterdam.

In case you missed any of my posts. Here’s what I did on my week-long trip to Amsterdam:

Day One: I wandered the canals, visited Anne Frank Huis, and had a meal at Haesje Claes.

Day Two: West to Rembrandt House, explored Vondelpark, made new photographer friends and took photos at the Red Light District.

Day Three: I rented a bicycle and then got a meal with a Canadian I met at my hostel. At night I got a drink at a bar.

Day Four: Went to Noodermarkt, the Van Gogh Museum, saw the I AMSTERDAM sign, saw a classical concert at Concertgebau, explored Rijksmuseum, and tried to smoke a little.

Day Five: Went to the FOAM photography museum, admired tulips at bloemenmarkt, and had lunch at pancake bakery. At night I went on an Amsterdam pub crawl.

Day Six: I saw all the flowers at Keukenhof Flower Garden in Lisse. At night I went on an Amsterdam bar crawl.

Day Seven: I had a lazy day in Amsterdam. At night I went on a bar crawl.

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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