Family Vacation Journal: Amsterdam

A globetrotter-in-training visits Amsterdam on her first international trip By: Kahlo Smith, Age 14
Exploring the city by bike is a fun alternative to walking. // © 2014 Thinkstock
Exploring the city by bike is a fun alternative to walking. // © 2014 Thinkstock

Before this past June, I had never been beyond the borders of my own country. Then, my aunt, uncle and cousin headed for Europe. After joining them there, I was towed through the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark in quick succession.

I found Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands, to be a good first step for a world-traveler-in-training. Everyone we met spoke perfect English, and the trams made it easy to see the sights. I freely admit that I took more than a few spills on my bicycle — another popular mode of transportation.

We explored museums, took a water tour and stopped for hot chocolate in the Red Light District. I ate fresh stroopwafels (waffles made with caramel) and raw herring, visited two open-air markets and discovered a cool Russian supermarket.

I couldn’t pick a favorite moment if I tried, and I wouldn’t want to. Saying I enjoyed one thing more than any other would be taking away from the fact that every experience I had was amazing and interesting in its own way.

I don’t know where my next trip abroad will take me, but I do know that the memories of Amsterdam will stay with me no matter where I go. The city was full of surprises — both the wonderfully new and the comfortingly familiar. Yet even amid those strange new surroundings, with my worldly relatives to guide me, I began to feel at home. I was disappointed when my two weeks were up.

Look out, Amsterdam. I’ll be back. Next time, I swear I won’t knock anybody off of their bike. Really.