What can you say? There's places that I Love. With capital L. Places that make me feel happy, just by being there. When people ask me how I like them, I can never satisfy myself with an answer. It will always feel hollow; a black and white version of the truth, that is only accessible through my senses, my soul and my heart.
I fell in love with Amsterdam when I visited the first time about a year ago. The fact that Trev's and my dear friend Vanja has moved there to study provided us with a great excuse to escape to the Netherlands for a weekend. It was way too short both for being with Vanja and for visiting this city. I would have wanted so much longer to enjoy it!
Now I had the opportunity. I had toyed with the idea of spending some time at Vanja's this summer, and when Tali told me that she wanted to see Amsterdam before she left Europe, I asked if she would mind me coming along.
Sadly, Vanja was out of town (visiting family in Switzerland - I know! Ironic, what?) at the time we visited, but being the golden soul that she is, she sent me the keys for her house and assured me it was ours for as long as we wanted. A free place to sleep, cook and wash and two bicycles to use: What more could you want in Amsterdam? Well, we got more. Vanja had not only laid out all her city guides for us; on her desk was also a huge city map that she had prepared, with sticky notes all over it, indicating interesting spots (they were color coded!! yellow for sights, pink for restaurants, purple for museums... you get the point), and a three page letter explaining every useful detail we would have wanted to know.
And that was not all of our luck.
When we arrived at the place we met Thomas, Vanjas friend who had been spending time at hers too, due to his not-so-gleamy housing situation. Honestly: Amsterdam is great, Vanja is great, the trip was great - but Thomas was the icing on the cake. We had so much fun together and he showed us around, generously spending his time with us two chickens.
|We started our friendship off having a hair party: A new cut for Tom, new color for me.|
|Drying off in between rainy adventures on Tom's houseboat|
|well, I fit into the color scheme ^^|
|our evening program: some delicious carpet-picnic and a bottle of wine.|
|a day in the green: at the beach|
|bringing home 'trashsale-scores'|
I couldn't bear to imagine leaving after just a few days. I decidded to stay a bit longer and even managed to persuade Trev to come up for a week.
|waiting for the drag queens|
|a funny thing about the Netherlands is that there really isn't a lot of 'local cuisine' apart from dull things like french fries and 'kaas'|
I'd had a crush on Amsterdam the year before, but now I was helplessly and deeply in love. The huge parks and tiny side alleys; the cobbled streets and brown brickhouses leaning against each other. The people going everywhere and with everything on their two wheels, ringing the bells like madmen and shouting: "Kijken!" at each other. The mixture of cultures, philosophies, religions and lifestyles. The feeling that the street outside your house is just another big lawn shared by all the inhabitants. The joy of discovering beautiful and quirky things and people behind just about every corner you turn.
|painting on Vanja's wall|
Next in the series are some peeks of the small moments of beauty I tried to look out for on the trip.
Travel Tales 2011:
Part 1: Hamburg
Part 2: Berlin
Part 3: Brussels