A Workshop Tour of Europe: Amsterdam

Amsterdam was everything I hoped it would be. As soon as Joel suggested we go to Amsterdam between our Stockholm and Berlin workshops, my mind was made up. It was Holland or bust from that point on.

We arrived late in the afternoon, exhausted from traveling and stressed about the last workshop still ahead of us. We had booked a hotel, or more accurately, “boatel”, outside of the main center of Amsterdam, and I just wanted to lay down and sleep forever. After some ferry confusion and riding across the river one too many times, we found the right ferry that would take us to our home for the next few days. It was literally a boat hotel–what looked like a small cruise ship perched on the water across from a mostly submerged submarine. I was so excited. It’s still one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed on my travels.



The next day, we went out into the city to explore Amsterdam. I was amazed at the sheer number of bicycles in the city. I mean, I know Amsterdam was known for it’s bike riders, but this was something beyond my expectations. There were literally more bikes than people, and that’s saying something, because the city was packed with tourists.

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Joel had been to Amsterdam previously during the Fifa World Cup Tour, but this was a completely new experience for me, and I was so excited to explore as much as I could. Joel and I are both pretty easy-going travelers, in that we love to take it slow sometimes, but we also like to see as much as we can in the time we have. We ended up walking around the entire city that day, and then some, and it was so perfect.

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Amsterdam is such a lively city, with people everywhere out enjoying the sun, buskers playing all over in the city center, museums and shops around every corner. The beautiful historic buildings were my favorite part, the old blended in with the modern so seamlessly.

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I love love loooooved these buildings! The different colors and styles of the Dutch facades, built centuries ago and still standing strong after all this time, were a sight to see–and so easy to photograph.

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We made friends with a lot of animals around the city. Cats and dogs roamed free wherever we looked, and we would stop to pet them for a few minutes and then continue on our way.

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Joel and I spent the afternoon explore vintage and thrift shops in Amsterdam. There were so many, and all of them held so many treasures. We wanted to take everything we found home with us.


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The Anne Frank statue, which for some reason turned out rather out-of-focus. :\

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These little pastries were called Poffertjes and they were delicious. I ate them all in less than 10 minutes. Call me whatever you want, I’m sure you would have done the same.

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Ah, Amsterdam you perfect place.

The next day we woke up to a rainy day, and that didn’t slow me down for a second. I went out into the city on my own while Joel had a business call, and I spent the morning exploring the misty city on my own. I had plans to meet for coffee with a friend–a crazy talented brander, writer and photographer named Christian Watson. Many of you might know him on Instagram as @1924us, and you can find his website here. We had picked a cozy shop called Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters, which felt even homier in the rain.

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Christian and I hit it off immediately. He is known for being a little bit sarcastic, a little bit blunt on social media, and I expected nothing less from him in person. He was funny and vulgar and also incredibly kind, and I was happy to have made a new friend in him. We exchanged stories for what must have been several hours, and then we parted ways.

It’s always fun to meet people from social media, because you get a much more authentic view of them as a person than you do from their photos or words. I was really happy to have met this one in particular.

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P.S. Christian has got a book coming out that you should definitely go buy, full of rad film photos and stories from his travels around the world. I got one, so you should too. Here’s the link. IMG_3366Edit

Our last day in Amsterdam was just what we needed. No pressure, no responsibilities, just a chance to relax and see the city through someone else’s eyes.

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Right next to the Anne Frank House, there is a giant church which was the former resting place of 17th century Dutch artist Rembrandt Van Ryn. His body no longer rests there, for his remains were moved and destroyed sometime in the late 1600’s, as was customary for the poor folk of the city in the past. I was excited just to be there, even though I was sad it was no longer where one of my favorite artists was buried.

It was the strangest thing though in that church. People were painting and selling their wares inside of the church, something I had never seen before. Modern music played through the loudspeakers, and people talked at a normal decible. It was a much different, much less reverent place than any other church I had been into in Europe.

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We met up with our Dutch friend Noukka Signe, who lives outside of Amsterdam and came into the city to spend the day with us. I had been dying to meet her for years, as we had followed each other on Flickr several years ago, and had always encouraged and supported each other’s work ever since. She was even more amazing in person than I had hoped, and she took us to some of her favorite places in Amsterdam! It felt like we were reuniting, like we had always been friends, and I adored her immediately. Check out her beautiful work here.

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We walked all over the city, through its beautiful parks, bookshops, and bridges. Noukka told us facts about the city, about her life, and about her photography.

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Joel, Noukka, and I spent the entire day walking around the city and seeing it through her eyes, and I gained such a strong appreciation for this beautiful town of bikes, canals and history. Noukka was the perfect tour guide for us, and I was sad to say goodbye to her at the end of the day.

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At last Joel and I headed back to our boatel, and we were greeted with the most beautiful sunset over the ships on the harbor. We grabbed our cameras and took photos for a while, then just stood and watched the colors change over the city while music played from the restaurants below us. Our time in Amsterdam couldn’t have come to a more perfect end.

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Next, our journey took us to Berlin, and that will come in another blog post, so stay tuned! 🙂

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