I was sooooo looking forward to a good romp in the Netherlands. Holland is one of my favorite countries – and I’m sure a lot of that sentiment has to do with the fact that I have some very, very dear friends there. Friends that are so dear to my heart I keep flying across the Atlantic to see them.
This time Lana was accompanying me – this being her first time in Holland. The requisite tourist spots were on the list: coffee shops, canals, the Red Light District…but the majority of our time would be spent in Utrecht where my friend Merlijn lives.
We begin our trip in the airport. Shocker. But where in the airport you ask? At the bar of course! Let me explain: Lana is TERRIFIED of flying. So me, being the good and supportive friend I am, marched her promptly over to get a beer in her empty system. I opted for wine cause beer + plane = bloat. Anywho, we were off to a slow start. One beer wasn’t going to cut it. We hop onto our flight with KLM (my favorite airline of all time – please go out of your way to fly with them, you won’t regret it) and are delighted to discover that the beverages are free. I don’t think you heard me. The ALCOHOLIC beverages are free. We asked three times just to clarify, and make sure there were no language barriers causing us to misunderstand. Free wine?! Is this heaven? No. Just the Royal Dutch Airlines. Which may, in fact, be heaven. Needless to say, the winos (me and L) took full advantage of the situation…
We arrive in Amsterdam around 11pm (2300h <– hee hee) in a flurry of giddy laughter and restless anticipation. We are ready to attack the night and leave no survivors. We collect our bag (consolidation is key, we flew with one bag) and went outside to meet our ride.
Me: I don’t see my friends.
Lana: I see a bar. Want a shot?
Me: Yes I do.
After taking our shots, my friends arrive and sweep us away to the bustle of Amsterdam, where people were rolling joints and smoking right in the bars. Only here folks. We did not go to bed until well after the sun peeked his little head over the horizon. Bravo to us.
The next day we opted for a tamer version of Holland and signed up with a walking tour that our hostel sponsored. We gathered in a huge plaza by the Royal Palace for this tour, when I turned my head slightly to the side and saw a cafe beckoning me with cozy chairs, “milky coffee” and grand sweeping patio umbrellas. Our fate was sealed. We ditched the tour and opted for legally addictive substances instead. Which, in Holland, I guess could mean reefer. But in this scenario I am referring to coffee.
We also visited the Anne Frank house. This was my 2nd time there so I already knew the story and what to expect, but the following photo of Otto Frank was something I had never seen before:
This photo was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Anne Frank house. When I saw it, I stopped completely and everything inside me froze. If you can, try to blow it up and get a closer look. I don’t know why, but looking into his face I felt all of the agony at once that this family experienced, incapsulated in this one still shot. Emotions raged through me when I saw it: grief, anger, desperation, vengeance, immense sorrow…tearing at my heart ferociously. It left me perplexed and a bit frightened but I was glued to that spot. It took me a long while before I was able to carry on. I did not expect an impact like that. And that photo has haunted me since.
Quickly following was the Holland/Brasil game. HUGE game. Lana and I were craving Mexican food (typical – we’re Texasns) so we found ourselves a little restaurant with a huge television. There we watched the madness that was the Dutch victory.
The streets were insane! We walked around, partaking in the antics, when suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of a Brasilian street drumming session. It was fab. Swirls of yellow, blue, green and orange were vibrating, dancing and thrashing in a beautiful chaotic frenzy. The excitement was palpable. I wanted to reach out and grab these sensations and pocket them for later use. But that would have been weird…
Very well. Time to hop the train for Utrecht.
Day 1 in Utrecht involved sailing. Very, very cold sailing. The Dutchies (as I so love to call them) were perfectly fine, while we (the Americans) were freezing. Hey we’re from the South! Give me a break. ‘Twas chilly. Sailing was perfect. Wine, snacks, sandwiches…and I even got some sailing lessons. I was a natural at holding that rope taut. My knots were another story. Nautical knots. Alliteration, but only when saying it out loud 🙂
Unpredictable Dutch weather didn’t let us down, and we ended up getting rained out. We sail (or paddle) into the marina as the freezing rain is pouring on us. Never ones to be discouraged, we simple bring all of our supplies into the boat house and subsequently order snacks and drinks. It was a successful day after all.
Day 2 involved a beach trip to Bloemendaal (Bloomingdale). This is one of my favorite Dutch spots for a beach party! Great music, (see here) great beaches and great people watching. We didn’t make it past the transvestite who was manning the door for the Bloomingdale 2010 CD release party, but we could hear the music from the beach so we were just fine. I didn’t want my outfit picked apart, anyway. She was ruthless! I’m sure I would have cried.
Our flight didn’t leave until late Monday night, so we head back into Amsterdam and play around a bit more before flying back to Spain.
Now back to Spain