Apologies for the delay in posting – I have been busy globe-trotting!
The past two weeks have been a bit crazy. I spent 5 days in Vienna with my grandparents, which was wonderful. I loved seeing them, eating food that wasn’t gulash, and seeing wonderful artwork. I got back on Tuesday night at 10:30, exhausted, only to be told that I had class the next morning at 7 am (I brilliant set my alarm for 6:15 PM and missed class, oops) and a Czech test immediately following (I could have studied hard and blanked on the test. double oops). And then on Friday I headed off to Amsterdam. Needless to say, I am looking forward to a weekend in Prague with a little bit more time to sleep. Please don’t misunderstand me and think I am not aware of how wonderful it is to be studying abroad and how lucky I am. Because the enormity of it all is with me all of the time. I am just looking forward to some time in Prague and a slightly slower pace. For a weekend.
I normally like to think of myself as a decently creative person, and thought that the titles of my blog posts were going to be witty and charming. Alas, that is so not the case. So as my tourist-influenced title alludes to (and the above paragraph), I was in Amsterdam this weekend! And while I normally write long posts about all of the fun things that I did during the weekend, I thought I might just tell about my adventure on Sunday and include a bunch of the great pictures of Amsterdam that I took. Between all of the raindrops, of course.
I have accidentally started a wonderful trend. In every city that I go, I immediately raid the rack of pamphlets in the hostel and look for something fun and exciting to do. Ireland, I found really neat tours to areas that I would not have found on my own. Český Krumlov I went rafting down the Vltava River. Budapest I went caving. And in Amsterdam, I went biking to the countryside to go and see a cheese farm and a wooden clog making workshop. The pouring rain was an added bonus.
Jonathan, Rosie, and I (our friend Gavin also came to Amsterdam with us but decided that he didn’t want to bike) managed to find a bike shop called Mike’s Bike Shop which was still running countryside tours even though it is October. They got us, and the 10 other morons who decided that biking in the rain was a good idea, outfitted with bikes and massive red ponchos and a (female) guide named Mike. I should take a moment to describe Mike for you all just so that you fully understand the scenario. Mike is Dutch, about 5’4″, 100 pounds, and had on 4 in black leather boots. Which she biked in. She also had on a massive white, furry, totally impractical for the rain, hat which also covered her ears and made it so that she couldn’t hear us. Oh, and electric blue eyeshadow, fake lashes above her real lashes so that she had two sets of eyelashes, and tons of eyeliner on. And with our slightly nuts guide, we were ready.
Because it was raining so hard, we were told to take the front of our ponchos and put it over our handlebars to also keep our legs dry. We then had to sit on the back of the poncho or it flew up behind us. I only wish that I had a chance to stand by the side of the road and photograph as 15 drenched cyclists went by in puffed-up, bright red ponchos rode by.
From left, me, Rosie, and Jonathan. Soaked.*
*I asked Mike to take a picture of us, and this is what we got. She kept mentioning something about “loving the square” – whatever that means.
We stopped at a windmill, which you can see in the background of the above picture.
We then rode on to the cheese farm which was great! The guy who makes the cheese was really friendly and gave us all tea and cheese! He had all sorts of interesting types of gouda (that’s the only kind of cheese that his farm makes), including gouda with herbs, with green and red peppers, and my favorite, with mustard seeds. I had never had that kind of cheese before, but the mustard seeds added such an interesting spin on what I sometimes think is a boring cheese.
As I mentioned, the farm also made wooden clogs. We actually got to see one be made which was really neat – they have a machine in which you clip in an already-made clog to one side and a block of wood to the other, and the machine copies the shape of the clog. Unfortunately, all of my pictures turned out not so great (I think my fingers were still numb from biking in the cold!).
BUT, I do have a bunch of other really beautiful pictures of Amsterdam:
a few fun facts:
- It rains in Amsterdam about 200 days per year
- Amsterdam has over 1 million bikes but on 700,000 residents
- The Dutch people are the tallest in Europe (and pretty cute, too!)
- 75% of the world’s flower bulbs come from the Netherlands
- Holland and the Netherlands are the same country
- Amsterdam has 165 canals and 1,281 bridges!