By some stroke of luck with a healthy amount of magic factored in, we discovered that Eli's second cousin, Judd, and his girlfriend, Elena, live in Amsterdam. Add to that even more magic - they are super, wondrously friendly, kind, and interesting. We had already decided to visit the city when finding this out, and ended up staying with them from Thursday June 23rd until Tuesday the 28th. Happily, the weather was more than generous during this time and decided to give us a really good dose of summery heat and sun. Americanos with shaved ice, breeze from the bicycle rides and a delicious evening dinner outside with good company cured us of the fuzzy brain and sweating.
After becoming accustomed to the continuous mist in Scotland, I'm not sure either of us realized how welcome the sun would be. The general feeling for visiting Amsterdam was fairly laid back for both of us and centered around people watching and exploring without much direction for hours on end. This usually includes a wander around the local supermarket (more to come on this habit-in-progress soon). We found ourselves looking for picnic treats which is, of course, far less spendy than lunches out each day - but also helps us have some quick study time for some of the basics of food in Dutch. In short, it is neither easy nor logical to our English geared brains. Additionally, a large part of the diet seems to consist of a bread product of some kind. A friend, who is living in Rotterdam, commented that it seems that the Dutch are never without a roll, pastry or sandwich of some kind. It is not an exaggeration - the wee pancakes, croissants, and brodjies (pocket sized sandwiches) were offered on almost each corner. Though, finding the 'best' one is a game of conversation and comparative research. Thankfully, Eli was able to order things that I would snip a small taste of - angering the gluten free gods but satisfying the taste buds and the desire to share in culinary customs of all kinds.
Plus, these famed fries (hot chips) were shared equally and totally delicious:
However, the point is that I have it engrained in my every pore to be on constant guard for pedestrians and wild or inattentive drivers (thanks Boston and Milwaukee!). Unfortunately, this makes me a mildly skittish first time bicyclist in Amsterdam, where it seems folks are born on two wheels and the culture of it is utilitarian to the core. The flat roads help this along tremendously, of course. The idea of lumbering through Boston traffic on an old Dutch cruiser is dreamy and all kinds of stylish, but horribly unrealistic. Eli and I found the clear lack of 'holier than thou' super biker mentality refreshing, but also noticed that we were regarded as slow, in the way, or frustrating at times to the rest of bike traffic if we had even a hiccup in our momentum or questioned which turn to take. I found it best to keep with the current and get the hell out of the way to make any decisions. Regardless, it was encouraging and entertaining - and further fueled our love of the bicycle. Maybe when we settle in somewhere, we will have the flair of this young man and decorate our mobiles with as many lights and roses:
Location:Amsterdam, the Netherlands