My 10 days in Europe: Discovered stroopwafels (ate too many of them), tripped on cobblestones, decided I’m moving to Paris, took pictures of a thousand canals, almost got flattened by bikers, downed four shots of espresso every morning (thanks Momo), witnessed Love Actually airport homecomings, began a love affair with Nutella crepes (ate too many again), skipped out on life for 10 days, explored two absolutely perfect cities. Obviously, I hated it.

bikes & canals, canals & bikes

bikes & canals, canals & bikes

For this post, I’ll detail a bit about my time in Amsterdam, a city filled with beautiful little canals, stylish bikers everywhere, and charming cobblestone streets lined with crooked shops. I didn’t expect to love this city as much as I did, but needless to say, I’ll be back.

Last week, I was in Amsterdam with rAVe [publications] reporting on Integrated Systems Europe 2015, a trade show in the audiovisual technology industry. It was a ton of fun, and we had a fantastic team make the trip. It’d be difficult to go through everything we did, so I’ll just give you a few highlights from my week in the Netherlands:

After a crazy hectic week, we flew out of RDU and arrived in Amsterdam on Saturday morning. We had the entire day to explore the city, so we headed to the Albert Cuyp Street Market. We found everything from fur coats to cheese to fresh fish, but the best discovery by far were the fresh stroopwafels. If you don’t know what these are, they’re two thin waffles with caramel in the middle, sometimes coated with chocolate. I tried to bring some home for everyone… But I ate them on the plane. Whoops.

Stroopwafels at the street market!

Stroopwafels at the street market!

Next stop: the Van Gogh museum, one of my favorite parts of the trip. I love the impressionists, Van Gogh in particular, so it was amazing to see an entire museum filled with his work. The museum takes you through Van Gogh’s life, so you can see his progression as an artist. I’ve always loved his sunflower paintings, and it was incredible to get so close to his work.

10999631_10153603450102388_4914769147158285850_nOn Sunday, we ended up having some unexpected free time to wander the city, and got lucky with beautiful weather and sunshine. Amsterdam seems more like a town than a city, with the canals and lights strung across the streets making it feel just a little bit magical once the sun goes down. One of our friends pointed us towards a floating flower market (can you say adorable?), and we wandered into a little art shop with beautiful paintings of Amsterdam and vintage magazine covers.

The next few days were mostly filled with lots of time at ISE, spent shooting videos, conducting interviews, and covering the entire trade show floor. It was definitely a cool opportunity to meet some really interesting people and see the latest and greatest in audiovisual technology, an industry that I had little experience with prior to ISE.

Our hotel was right in the middle of the city, so we were able to find cozy little restaurants each night just by wandering around. I’m thoroughly convinced that the best way to explore new places is with very little planning (also I just hate planning), and Amsterdam was perfect for figuring things out as we went.

To wrap up the trade show, we had a team dinner at Kantjil & de Tijger, a mixture of Dutch and Indonesian food. I had no idea what that meant (still don’t, actually), but whatever it was, it was probably the best food we had. (shoutout to Gary, Sara and Emily!) If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, you should definitely check it out.

Some of the rAVe team! Courtesy of Morgan's selfie stick

Some of the rAVe team! [courtesy of the selfie stick]

Our last day in the city was absolutely perfect, complete with chocolate shops, artsy street murals, walks along the canals, grandiose town squares, delicious food, and book markets (I was in heaven). To wrap up our trip, we went on a boat cruise through the canals— the best way to end out an incredible visit to a beautiful city. Amsterdam, thanks for some amazing adventures! I’ll be seeing you!

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Next on the blog: Paris!