Visiting both the Hague and Amsterdam in one day was exhausting, but completely worth it. Both cities have their own charms and what makes them unique.
We visited the Hague early in the morning by metro, and were immediately greeted by state buildings all around us. What one would assume to be office buildings were actually different ministries, and a building one would assume to be part of the row of restaurants is actually another ministry. This wasn’t the most confusing thing, as different architecture exists, but what was confusing was just how different members of the Dutch government were to the United States. For example, in the US, the president is always surrounded by security and his entourage. He doesn’t drive and is instead driven in a motorcade. So, it was quite a shock to learn that the Prime Minister of the Netherlands did not do this to get to this office every day, and instead bikes to work like any other worker. We were even told that we had just missed him by a few minutes. We saw two ministers though – the Minister of Climate, who was giving an interview out on the street when we walked up, and the Minister of Defense. After walking around a bit more and taking in the sights, we visited The Mauritshuis, which is an art museum. Even though I only recognized a single painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, I still enjoyed walking through all the exhibits and just admiring how beautiful the paintings were. There were some that were super realistic, and others that made me want to laugh (in a good way of course). Many of these paintings date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, which is surprising because they look great for being hundreds of years old.
My first impression of Amsterdam was: man, it’s really busy here. And it was, as you were greeted by a swarm of people as soon as you exit the train station and walk down the main road. Even with the people, the buildings in the city were fantastic to look at. Personally, I found that I liked the city more when you venture into more quiet and nature-y areas of Amsterdam when compared to the main area, but still, the city is super cool. Like in Rotterdam, there were many different restaurants of different types of food from different cultures, which many of us indulged in. A small group of us, myself included, got separated from the main group and were walking all over Amsterdam trying to get to them. We passed through some beautiful parts of the city, but I personally was too concerned about reaching the main group to really take it all in. I did later though, when Charlotte and I walked with the main group to Albert Cuyp Market, where more of us split off either to go into the market or to the botanical gardens. Walking through the markets was interesting, and I got an Amsterdam souvenir, but afterwards Charlotte and I went by ourselves to the Van Gogh Museum. Just our luck, tickets had to be bought online, and they were sold out for the day. We thought about going to the modern art museum next to it, but the entrance fee was about 22 euros, so that idea was abandoned as well. Finally, we wanted to go to Rijksmuseum, but that closed at 5 pm. All out of ideas, we stopped by a nice cafe near all the museums to talk and have a drink, which was quite enjoyable.