Monday, September 7th 2015
My third day in Amsterdam began bright and early with chilly breezes and a row of bicycles. A handful of us, including Kathy, met up with our tour guide and his collection of uniformed vehicles. After everyone adjusted their bikes and geared up, he gave us a quick synopsis of where we’d be riding in the city and countryside.
First, a little background info for anyone who hasn’t traveled or lived in Europe. Bikes are a big deal there. Bikes are a main means of traveling around town- especially in the Netherlands and/or Holland. So this wasn’t just a little ride along the sidewalk. This was driving like the locals. And oh my goodness, I don’t think we knew what we were in for.
It had been a little while since most of us put our butts to a bike. Takeoff probably looked like a crooked line of 11 ducklings wobbling behind papa tour-guide duck. But as the saying goes- you don’t forget! We were tourists at the beginning, but totally had it mastered by the end of the trip.
The Dutch were generally nice and understanding as we invaded their daily routines. Attempting to jump a curb, I skillfully managed to knock my bike over once- but I never fell! Slipping between cars in alleyways and zipping around pedestrians was a unique thrill. Figuring out who had the right of way, where to go when cars were coming at you, and weaving from street to sidewalk praying you wouldn’t slam into people was crazy!
After the city, we took our bikes on a ferry to the magical countryside. Quaint little buildings, adorable houses, and miles of green pastures (complete with sheep, cows, and horses), were something right out of a fairytale. We stopped at a windmill for a group picture and ended in a little building by a soccer field for lunch.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much time to stop and take pictures so I only have a few from my phone. But the memories of breathing in that air and soaking in the sights are better than any picture. No photo or film does a real-life experience justice. I’m so glad I decided to do the bike tour. I had no regrets for the sore muscles and butt pain that followed. It was so worth it.
That night, Jordan and I met up with Kathy for a portion of the Amsterdam Fringe Festival. We mastered the metro-to-tram system after a little turnaround with directions (boarding the #17 that went in a complete opposite direction). Getting lost is half the fun- and the tram drivers were really helpful. Eventually we found the venue for the art performance and eventually Kathy found us.
“Us” included my newly acquired roulette of a calzone– complete with its own shoe box! (The menu was Dutch so I just picked something). The calzone was huge and I’m not exaggerating about the box. It weighed as much as a small animal and I had to put it on the ground by the canal to eat. After, we went into the old high school behind us for Anastasiia Liubchenko’s art instillation.
Anastasiia, a Ukranian artist living in Amsterdam, gave a performance by physically interpreting her paintings with dance and music. She had a man accompanying her movements with a guitar. Her final piece was probably my favorite. It was a painting of her mother and a home movie where her family members were asking (child) Anastasiia what she wanted to be when she grew up. Adorned in a tutu, (adult) she told us about taking ballet classes as a little girl.
On the video, her young self mentioned that she liked to dance and a specific question was asked to the little Anastasiia:
“But what do you like the most?”
She replied, “painting.”
And that struck me. It reminded me to think about what my own passion is. It gave me chills to think of how such an innocent, simple statement could be the basis of an entire meaning for life. What do you like the most? Ponder that.
After the art instillation, the three of us found a trendy nearby restaurant for drinks. I had some delicious cheesecake– to which the Instagram photo does no justice. We exchanged some good conversations and got to know each other. It was inspiring to learn about Kathy and how she got to where she is as a tour director. Overall, this was another wonderful day on our trip. Sadly, it was the last one in Amsterdam- but very well spent. Next stop, Belgium!
Sun | Sleeping at Last