Thursday, May 7, 2009
i left barcelona at 3am and took a long journey to amsterdam! i flew into eindhoven, a city in the south of the netherlands (for all of you who have never heard of ryan air, it's a budget airline company that makes it possible to fly across europe for 30 bucks one way, but it was been described as flying "in a tin can of advertisements", and it costs money to go to the bathroom...you get the picture). a really nice dutch girl i met on the bus to the airport in barcelona drove me to the train station in eindhoven, and they have me a little tour of the netherlands!!! my first impression was great: very flat, clean, green, and organized! very different from barcelona. all of the young people are bilingual and most of the adults speak fluent english, so it was very easy to get around. then i took the train from eindhoven to amsterdam, which was great, because i got to see the dutch countryside before arriving in the city !
the city itself is gorgeous - the houses on the canal are exquisite, and everywhere you look there are fashionable people riding around on their bikes. literally, pedestrians are second class citizens to bikers. you have to be careful walking in amsterdam because it is easy to get hit by a biker! it almost happened to me my first few moments there. i got to erik's apartment, and right away he took me out on his bike for a tour! it was so cool! i got to sit on the back of his bike (haha he did all the hard work) and observe the beautiful day in amsterdam. i went out to lunch with his friend, and we had a fun time just catching up. the canals everywhere make it kind of confusing to find your way around because the streets look the same - but everywhere is just beautiful!
we picked up my friend at the train station and rented bikes - our first test as tourists. of course we failed miserably, hitting the locals and stopping traffic. it was literally a mental struggle every time we got on ! not to mention our butts were really sore at the end of the weekend...
saturday night me and my friend got indonesian food (which we read is famous in amsterdam) while erik had dinner with co-workers. it was delicious! all small trays of hard boiled egg, chilli sauce with little rice cakes, veggies in peanut sauce, goat, cabbage salad, rice, yumm. Afterwards erik’s friend had a little get together at his house. But this wasn’t any old get-together in Amsterdam: this famous dutch woman was there! And the house was a mansion! On the canal! Desiré is apparently famous in the Netherlands for her music – she also does the dutch voice of Jimmy Newtron! Ha! So it was very posh and me and my friend tried hard to fit in with the older successful professional crowd for an evening.
The next day we slept in and erik took us to burger meester: the best burgers in the whole entire world. They are gourmet! I got one with lamb meet, goat cheese, mango sauce, and who knows what else on it. Erik got a tuna burger, and Alicia got the special. It was so delicious. We said goodbye to Erik who had to work in Budapest, and did some museum visiting. We saw the VanGogh museum, which was awesome! It chronicled his life by time and also by places he lived, which was amazing because he lived in St. Remy, Auvers-sur-Oise, Arles, Paris – all of these places that I have been to and seen! It made the museum that more special to see all these famous works picturing places I had visited. The highlight of the museum was the special exhibit, which featured all of VanGogh’s nightscapes. We got to see Starry Night! After VanGogh we saw the house where Anne Frank was in hiding for nearly three years before being discovered and taken to a concentation camp. It was a very well put together museum, but clearly very sad.
On Monday we headed to the countryside to see some of the real Netherlands: TULIPS! There is a sort of amusement park of flowers called Keukenhof. It was kind of like a HUGE flower show, plus they had acres of gardens, a petting zoo, a windmill, and dutch ice cream! A dutch wonderland for grown ups! It was really beautiful and relaxing to visit.
Tuesday I wandered around all day observing before it was time to fly to my next destination for a Sandy Hill Camp reunion: Liverpool! I did not love Amsterdam as much as I loved Barcelona (maybe because it was colder and rainier?), but it was a beautiful city with TONS to do and see. I don’t think I could ever live there though, because legal prostitution and decriminalized marijuana really freaks me out. I obviously didn’t have any direct affects from it, but making a wrong turn and watching a 90 year old main bargain with a 20 year old prostitute in a g-string is not something I ever want to be used to. Although it was fun to see the faces of the grandma’s and grandpa’s on their tours when they realize they are standing in front of a prostitute.