Rising at one in the morning to be in school for quarter to two for the bus is something I would not fancy doing again. The bus was a mix of tired heads and eager teenagers who couldn’t wait for a school tour to Amsterdam. After a relatively thorough quick check in process and a filling breakfast it was time to leave Ireland for a new land. We touched down in Amsterdam for half nine their time. We were given the chance to explore an airport which could probably have fit all the airports in Ireland inside of it. We then met up with our fantastic tour guide Stephen from Saffron Travel Ireland. We then headed away on our private bus driven by our magnificent driver Omar.
We departed for our first destination which was the Amsterdam Arena, home to AFC Ajax and the Netherlands national team. Immediately I was taken aback by the sheer size of the structure. We entered the stadium and were given a fully guided tour of the stadium. We were shown all of the stadium from standing at the very top row to sitting in the dugouts. We also toured the two changing rooms and learned about why the home one is much more advanced than the away one. This was to give the Home team a physiological advantage over their opponents. Finally we toured the museum which was filled with trophies and memorabilia which showed the rich history of the club.
Following a quick stop at the hotel and rest we headed off for one of the most famous places in this beautiful city, the Anne Frank house. In a city of so much joy this house which represented one of the worst times in human history almost seemed out of place. There was a queue outside which seemed to stretch as far the eye could see. Thankfully we had pre booked our tickets and got to skip the 3 hour waiting list. Inside of the house was a humbling and sobering experience which I would recommend doing once. You could sense the despair that was in the house looking at all the relics left behind and the facts about the experience inside of it. Following it we went to the Hard Rock café and had a very tasty dinner. We then headed back to the hotel for an early sleep as we finished our 20 hour day.
The following day we visited the Rijks museum, home to some of the Netherlands finest pieces of art. It was home to pieces by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Vermeer and most famously Rembrant whose Nightwatch painting was a highlight of the museum.
Following that we got a private boat tour down the many canals of Amsterdam and into the bay. We learned about the history of the city, what different things meant, saw ingenious pieces of architecture and found out how many bikes fall into the canals every year. We finished the second day with some shopping in the famous streets of Amsterdam.
Everyone was eager for the third day as we were going to the Eftling theme park. It is the largest theme park in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in the world. There was over thirty fantasy themed rides to choose from and naturally my group chose the biggest and fastest ones. We experienced some of the largest, fastest and most amazing rides I’ve ever been on. We came back to the bus soaked, out of breath and with big gleeful smiles on our faces. To end the day we ate at an all you can eat Chinese buffet and we definitely ate all we could.
Monday was the final day of the tour and everyone was bit down due to this. To compensate we visited some very historical and fascinating villages including Volendam, which were all below sea level. We witnessed how they make their world famous cheese and clogs and how the many dikes stop the sea from flooding the areas. Thankfully the sun was shining and it provided us with some amazing images and it reflected along the water which will live long in our memories.
Finally we visited Zaanse Schans, home to the famous windmills of Amsterdam. The wooden and thatch roofed windmills were very interesting and provided great photos. The final day was very fascinating and a highlight of a wonderful trip. Despite our protests we eventually had to return home to Ireland from one of the most amazing trips I have ever experienced with memories that will last a lifetime.
Rory Carroll (Killarney Community College Student)