What an unbelievable time!
01.07.2010 - 06.07.2010 40 °C
There are sometimes those showers that are memorable, profound, delicious, and I had one the day I arrived in the Netherlands.
Boston was sweltering, New York was sweltering, Germany was sweltering, Amsterdam was sweltering. I took an Amtrak, a commuter train, an airtrain, a red-eye flight, another airtrain, a high-speed train, a trolley and walked. All those hours later, I arrived at a lovely hostel all sweaty and exhausted. That first shower felt so good, I think I'll always remember it.
I saw the city with a girl with a bunk near mine. Her name is Laura, she is from Toronto, and in a few days we are meeting in San Sebastian. She was meeting up with a brother-sister pair from her hometown, so the four of us wandered the lovely canals. The brother and sister were staying at my second youth hostel, a strange and lovely hippie caravan site several miles out of town on a lake. I headed out there the next day after watching the Netherlands win in a pub full of delighted locals. We all sat in the sunshine, had some beers, played ping pong, hid from a huge thunderstorm and met lots of other travelers. For the Spain game, I rented a bike and rode Netherlands style past elegant modern windmills and cows and swans into the tiny town of Abcoude.
The next day I went to the small town Haarlem, near the coast, asked for the restaurant's special even though I had no idea what it was, and ended up with a great sandwich with sprouts and lox. That evening, back in Amsterdam, I met two charming Polish guys who were living in Great Britiain, and then went back to the one sketchy hostel I had to stay in, with moldy sinks and sagging bunk beds. The last night I had another night at the first hostel, and met up with Laura again, and we had traditional herring sandwiches and took a 4-hour free tour of Amsterdam, learning a great deal; for example, the narrowest house in Amsterdam is only 1.8 meters wide!
It was tough to say goodbye to such a spunky, liberal city, all the coffeeshops smelling like a college dorm, the prostitutes, the canals, the various churches, the bikes...I will have to go back, and I was proud of my last name there!