Amsterdam Redux

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Going through my harddrive and found hundreds of photographs I had not previously thought worthy of keeping.

Taking thousands of photographs a year means that I get a free ride down skewed memory lane, and yesterday morning I got one- the sunshine, smells, and crowded streets of Amsterdam. Emily’s face when I insisted on photographing her again and again. The bright coats and hairstyles, sturdy boots and terrifyingly fast bicyclists.

I would write more but I’ve got so much work on my plate it seems foolish to continue reminiscing- for now.

 

The beginning of our trip!

The flights from Denver to Reykjavik and Reykjavik to Amsterdam were monotonous. Plane flights these days are things best done while not fully aware of the conditions you voluntary enter into. I listened to music, watched the free movies, and didn’t sleep much.

We arrived in the early afternoon at Schipol. We were being picked up by Helen, and whisked into the city in her car. She brought us straight to our hostel and then took us to a delicious bakery/cafe, De Bakkerswinkel. We walked around the city a bit. Emily and I were quite tired but I immediately found myself taking pictures of the rooflines. I was entranced by them, looking up. I don’t know how people in Amsterdam or other architecturally saturated cities don’t constantly run into each other- looking up in awe all the time made me prone to bumping into people, running into my sister, and just plain ignoring what was in front of me. (I did at one point step directly into the path of a speeding Vespa- oops.)

Amsterdam was chaotic. We stayed at Hotel Internationaal, right in the Red Light District. It was noisy 24/7- Emily and I were armed with ear plugs, thank goodness. (We mutually agreed that if we had known how chaotic it was we would have stayed elsewhere.) There were so many people, and so many bikes. We heard Dutch everywhere and I came to the conclusion that it was indeed akin to very very drunk German with more guttural noises.

I remember when we stopped at a bar and I attempted to order a beer. I was dead sober and struggled mightily to pronounce the phrases properly and in the end reverted to the most Neanderthal action ever: Point and grunt. Well, not quite grunt but gesticulate in the direction of the beer I wanted. That, sadly, was more successful than words. (I’d like to clarify here and point out that 95-100% of the Dutch speak excellent English and this was more me trying, stubbornly, to work in another language other than my own.)

Anyway, Amsterdam was magnificent to walk around. If you ever go bring sturdy shoes and explore. There are enough church towers and markets and squares that you can easily find yourself if you’re lost. There are lovely quiet pockets and louder more crowded areas, all scattered across the remarkably flat landscape. Do beware of the bikers though! I have to say that riding a bike in Amsterdam to me seemed akin to suicide or homicide- you would surely either kill yourself or slaughter others. The  Dutch ride their bikes with a speed that borders on reckless- they use their bells ferociously and dodge humans, cars, and other bikes fiercely. If you’re a visitor and you’re up to speed on biking in cities, go for it, but if you’re like me and from a largely rural area don’t unless you’ve got organs lined with steel and a skull made of sheet metal- collisions are imminent.

Now to the important part: the food culture that exists in Amsterdam is one to take full advantage of. Thank god we walked everywhere or I would have come back quite a bit larger. We had incredible Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Dutch, Italian, and Spanish food, among many others. For me, one of the best parts of traveling is eating and drinking the culture, which I believe can give you a lot of ideas about who the people are, what they think they are, and how they define themselves or want to be defined. There’s a lot of complexity in food and drink woven into cultural landscapes. Not that I’m delving into this sort of thought while I’m devouring a plate of food, but I have to justify my eating habits somehow. I will definitely be elaborating on all the food we ate, because eating is one of my favorite things to do.

More to come! Til then, tschüß!

Iceland + Netherlands + Belgium 2015

Come May, we’ll be packing our bags and getting on a big jet plane to several amazing places!

I’m excited/nervous/already ready to go.

I haven’t ever lived out of my backpack for a whole 3+ weeks, and Em has never been out of North America. This will be epic and exciting and I’m sure at some points stressful and tiring. We’re returning to the Dutch homeland at last!

We’re on a pretty strict budget and one thing I am sort of worried about is getting around in Iceland. I know it’s a very expensive place, so I’m really unsure how to go about getting out of Reykjavik and getting to the other parts of the country! I’m sure we’ll manage one way or another.

I’m really ready to eat new foods, meet new people, and experience the oddness that comes with sleeping in rooms with strangers, staying out late dancing, showering in shared bathrooms, and digging around ones pack looking for that one thing that no doubt is now at the bottom of the pack avoiding your searching fingertips.

If anybody has any recommendations/things to do/see/eat in Reykjavik, Amsterdam, Bruges, or Brussels leave me a comment! We’re stoked and we’ll have a great time no matter what happens but I love hearing from other world travelers.

It’s absolutely nuts to me that it will have been 4 years since I left ‘Murica for foreign soil. I will never ever let it be that long ever again as long as I live. For me, traveling is a way to stay sane. After you travel there is a switch turned on somewhere in your soul that cannot ever be turned off, and if you don’t travel you have to distract yourself like a fiend because otherwise something in you goes a little crazy. In the mean time I’ve gone to California, Texas, New York, Cape Cod, Washington, and lots of other beautiful places, but something about long plane rides and getting a stamp in my passport hums the right tune.