A World of Color: Northwest Europe

Nikki is a sophomore studying abroad this semester in Ormskirk, England. Check in each week for posts from Nikki as she shares her experiences abroad.

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The last stretch of our trip took us to Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. By now, we’d made countless friends and had had too many nights with too little sleep. While Italy was incredible, I was looking forward to spending the last few days at a more relaxed pace.

The lovely architecture of Munich.
The lovely architecture of Munich.

Germany is green. It’s a slightly paler shade than that of a tree’s leaf. When you’re in Germany you can’t help but feel its strength and power. Before I get into the awesomeness that was Germany, I think it needs a little shout out. Considering everything that has happened in the last hundred, even fifty years in Germany, the people are incredibly impressive. They have once again become a major world power after being manipulated by terrible leaders and being thoroughly kicked to the ground. Major props to Germany. Anyways, we stopped in both Munich and Rhine Valley on our journey. I like to call Munich “The Land of Snow White” because the architecture reminds me of something that would appear in the Disney film. We had the privilege of eating at the famous beer hall The Hofbrauhaus House, where we sampled German beer and sausage, pork and a dumpling followed by an apple strudel. German beer is amazing. You can actually drink it to enjoy the taste.

We also waited in the town square to see a bell tower performance, and sadly it was probably the most underwhelming experience of my life. The music was terrible and the wooden dolls barely moved. Afterwards, we continued on to Rhine Valley. Rhine Valley was one of my favorite days. It was absolutely gorgeous. We had a goofy photo shoot by the river, went on a river cruise and ended the evening with a wine tasting. Side note — I’ve learned that a wine tasting is the best place to go if you want to hear people pretend to thoroughly know something that they know nothing about. I can’t judge because I know next to nothing about wine, but the whole situation just made me want to laugh out loud. But that’s the fun of it I suppose!

The beauty of the Rhine!
The beauty of the Rhine Valley.

Next, we went to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. While we were only there for a day, I feel like I had a pretty full experience. Amsterdam is halfway between a pale yellow and a pale green. It brings on a calm, quaint feeling. We started by going to a clog and cheese factory, where we watched a man make shoes and cheese from scratch. Soon after, we took a canal cruise where we ate New York style pizza (it tasted nothing like real New York style pizza). Cruising through Amsterdam was similar to Venice. It is often referred to as “the Venice of the north,” and it holds up to that standard.

Dustin next to the famous "I Amsterdam" sign.
Dustin next to the famous “I Amsterdam” sign.

After our boat ride, we took a walk through the infamous Red Light District. It is true that there are women on display in glass windows down alleys, and there are shops where you can go in and get high. Fun fact, you are not allowed to take photos of the women there because their security will take your phone and break it. While I did not participate in any activities, the highlight of the day was seeing the faces of the men as they left a lady’s “room.” It brings “the walk of shame” to a whole new level. The Red Light District was surprisingly clean. The women of the night were no more revealing than women you see on TV and on billboards. Now what that says about our culture and society or theirs, I’ll let you be the judge.

Belgium is a lovely shade of baby blue. We were only in Belgium for a few hours, but we sampled the Belgian waffles fries! After that, we jumped back on a ferry to England and said goodbye to our continental European adventures. The next day it was straight to school where we would integrate ourselves with the British while taking trips all around the UK. Until next time, live in color!

"Madonna on the Rocks" in Belgium.
“Madonna on the Rocks” in Belgium.