Our second to last destination is what you might consider the Vegas of Europe. But honestly, it's much more than that. Amsterdam is much more than just the surface city pleasures.
We arrived at at Amsterdam Centraal smack dab on Saturday afternoon. The weather was beautiful, the atmosphere was upbeat, and I was ready to see everything Woody told me about this city. To be clear, the "bike life" is not a joke here. Bikes everywhere. Moving or parked. Bikes with baskets. Bikes with dogs. Bikes with dogs in baskets. Bikes with children. Women riding side-saddle with their beaus. Bikes that weren't trying to be flashy or new. The design was distinct, very european, the dutch decided it was good enough to remain unchanged.
And the integration of all public transportation was so beautifully seamless. Cars, bikes, and trams all working in symmetry on the streets with little to no outside regulation. It's almost like the dutch have a motto, and it's basically, "don't be an idiot, pay attention, and enjoy the freedom we've given you."
We spent the afternoon waltzing around the city. Woody was my personal tour guide and together we recounted his memories from two years earlier. We enjoyed a moment by the canals, watching many a bachelor party tug along in the water.
We made friends with two guys in our room and decided to make the most of our Saturday night. Eric, from Brazil, and Mikkel, from Denmark. After a meal, beers, and some local treats we took on the town together. Including the Red Light District...
A little about that. It's something I really can't describe. It's fascinating as I've never seen it before, yes. But it's also incredible interesting from a, I don't know, watching the very simplistic actions of human nature kinda of way. Watching these women in their element, watching how men behave, watching the men watch and interact with these women. It's all so interesting. Saturday night we squeezed through a packed street of red, as if we were all casually window shopping. The next night the two of us returned, at my request, to get another opportunity to experience. I think internally it triggers a lot of feelings about self-worth and beauty and human relationships.
Sunday arrived and it was as if the morning rain had washed away all the "sin" of Saturday night. We headed to The Stedelijk Museum (contemporary and modern art) and right off the bat it was something. I've enjoyed sharing this specific moment much more in person, and I don't want to share too much, but our first exhibit was Jon Rafman's: I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering. The room included a whole lot, but most notably, an enclosure with a ball pit (of all things) to sit in as you watched his videos.
The Danish sense of humor is an acquired taste...
We also visited the Anne Frank house. Disgressing here a bit. I think being overseas allows you to really get just how terrible everything really was during the war. America is a wonderful place, and also not so wonderful at times. But regardless, we're rather isolated and the oceans allow us for the most part to disregard a lot of some of these awful events, because it's not directly in our backyard. We're literally an ocean away. Walking through the house that people spent years hiding in fear, because ONE person decided their lives held less value, and knowing your fate was surely death is something to really consider. When I walked past the bookcase and crouched behind the wall. When I saw the movie star photos glued to Anne's bedroom.
"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart"
Our last day was bittersweet. A mixture of sadness and exhaustion. Giving it just one more day knowing you have one last destination to go. Did some shopping at a consignment store called Episode and I scored myself two new bags (on the cheap)! P.S. Thanks Woody for letting me spoil myself :)
The final hours were spent with our new friend Eric. After a meal of Wok to Walk (Newsflash, you need to eat here asap and you'll never regret it I promise) we took one more loop around town and ended back at "I Amsterdam". We were the ONLY ones there. Nothing better than good conversation that carries its way back to the room.
And so the next day we parted ways and began the final leg.
Next Up: Reykjavik, Iceland
The famous "I Amsterdam" structure. We took turns modeling on various letters...
I think Amsterdam has my favorite color palette of all. Black, cream, brick, taupe, mauve, and the occasional pop of red/orange. Moody just like the weather.
A kid, a dad, a pup, and some foamy beer.
A little morning paper with the stoop cat
The ball pit.
SO Woody was telling me a story about how when bikes break here, nobody bothers to repair it. Instead they throw the bike into the canals and start fresh. I believed him. Then I believe him even more once I saw this boat carrying old rusty bikes pulled from the water.
After how many days on the road, I finally caved and bought an umbrella.
UGH this color palette. My next home is definitely going to be Amsterdam inspired.
Meet Eric! Fun Fact: Portuguese in Portugal is different from Portuguese in Brazil. Eric says so. Also might have to make my way down south for our next trip. That's what travel is all about, no?
If you look close enough, you will see...
This photo says a lot. I think I should call this one "Travel Exhaustion" or "Woodrow verses Travel" or "Backpacking Blues". What do you think?
The prettiest little row of homes.