“All good things come in threes, therefore love, drink, and sing:” OKTOBERFEST!

…That is a  translation of a German stein quote, and it describes my experience at Oktoberfest in Munich quite well. Although I spent a total of 2 days in Munich, I managed to acquire a new fondness for beer in large quantities, cross “kiss a European in Europe” off of my bucket list (it was on the cheek, everyone can calm down), see some ladies that I was missing greatly, and most importantly, travel to a new country alone. Margaret, Katie and I arrived in Munich around 10 on Friday evening and travelled thirty minutes to our hotel. We ended up taking a cab and I experienced the complete chaos that is  the German Autobahn. Started off on a great foot at almost 200 km an hour!

After spending hours catching up in the hotel, we woke up early to start on our journey to the fairgrounds. Now I feel fine with being blunt because this is my personal blog and therefore my personal opinion, but it became pretty clear that 1) Germans definitely live up to their reputation of being rude and 2) the way their city looks might be why. Breakfast at our nice hotel would have been over 20 euro (no thanks!) and the front desk man said “nothing’s free, only the death.” What does that mean?? The bus was easy to navigate but incredibly difficult to pay for. We didn’t have enough coins (of course the dingy little machine only took coins, and our total was 10 euro for the day for 3 people) so we snuck off the bus and down into the metro. Getting a ticket there was easier, and we were on our way! Sidenote: the amount of alcoholics on public transport was kind of astonishing, not even because it was Oktoberfest. Screaming, rambling, drinking, this doesn’t occur in our buses in Amsterdam!

Oktoberfest was busy even at 9am. We started our day with “frische waffeln,” warm and definitely fresh. Carbo-loading was a good idea because we started drinking at Hofbrauhaus before 10. The weather was cold but we sat outside and ordered our first liters, and then were joined by a huge Italian family that fell in love with us. There were 10 of them, a mixture of fathers, uncles, cousins, sons, and they were insane. They all made shoes for a living and this was their third time at Oktoberfest.  Our whole table ended filling up with Italians, and they were all so crazy but fun. They insisted we eat their prosciutto sandwiches, croissants, salami straight from Italy, and they bought us each another liter. They ranged in ages from about thirty to seventy, and we particularly liked the 65 year old “playboy” of the family. Kissed him on the cheek, not even slightly embarrassed to be in their family photo album (most likely). After our grand Italian adventure, we walked around the rest of the fair buying wurst and cinnamon nuts and more beer in a more restaurant-type tent. Every twenty minutes the live band would play the German drinking song, “Prost,” and you have to toast as many people as you can before the song ends. It was so much fun and we met more Germans and, surprise, more Italians. Seeing Oktoberfest was definitely something everyone in Europe should do. There is so much country pride despite the cranky morning we had in the hotel and on the bus. Supposedly in the inside of Hofbrau is where all of the college students are but I was pretty happy we didn’t end up in there, that seems like a giant frat party I don’t care to be a part of. We had a enough of a fratty time with the italian playboys for sure.  Another highlight of the day was hearing two American girls ask a German waitress if they “have any other alcohol than beer.” Come on, ladies, no. After a long day of adventuring around the festival and getting back to the hotel, we enjoyed long naps and dinner near where we were staying.

Frische waffel!

Frische waffel!

First beer of the day at Hofbrau, it was actually delicious. Who knew I liked beer? Europe will change a girl.

First beer of the day at Hofbrau, it was actually delicious. Who knew I liked beer? Europe will change a girl.

Margaret, me, and our Italians.

Margaret, me, and our Italians. Can you spot the playboy?

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1/2 meter of wurst, it wasn't even filling enough!

1/2 meter of wurst, it wasn’t even filling enough!

The ladies enjoying our afternoon beers. We loved singing "Sweet Home Alabama" while standing on the table.

The ladies enjoying our afternoon beers. We loved singing “Sweet Home Alabama” while standing on the table.

Katie and I explored downtown Munich while Margaret slept more after dinner. I felt so bad saying this, but I missed Amsterdam. The Munich city center was less than eventful, even on a Saturday night, and I realized I am so spoiled to live in a beautiful city, with beautiful surroundings and canals and people. We cut the night short because I had to get up at six AM and was still exhausted from a day of festivities. The Munich countryside on the way to the airport looked surprisingly similar to east Texas. All in all it was a great weekend with some great girls, but I couldn’t help smiling on the train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal. I was going home to my beautiful and happy city. I’m unsure what my future weekends hold, but I know inner-Holland travelling is a must. I’m jealous that Katie and Margaret are planning a lot of travelling for this semester, but my Pitzer friends will be in Europe next semester so I can see them AND more cities. I think I will get to Dublin, Scotland, and Prague before I go home for Christmas. And lordy, that will definitely be enough for now.

Munich at night.

Munich at night.

More Munich at night.

More Munich at night.

G'morning Munich train stop!

G’morning Munich train stop!

I just had my first Dutch test and it went very well. I had a full conversation with Harry, my Dutch friend that goes to Pitzer. I can’t believe how much I understand! I will be speaking so well by the end of spring semester. I’m missing everyone and am  trying to get myself together enough to write postcards to my gigantic list of people. I’ll already be attempting to get a huge German stein back to the states in December, but if more souvenirs are desired, let me know!

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Museums 2+3: Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder en de Oude Kerk

Thought I’d fit in a quick post about my latest day trips before I set off for Munich tonight (and fill my mind with a lot of new great exploring-based memories). I took time this week to explore a few museums on my own and ended up having a super spiritual journey by visiting Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic) and de Oude Kerk (The Old Church). These are two of Amsterdam’s most famous tourist spots located RIGHT in the Red Light District… go figure. Not surprised to find where Rembrandt’s wife was buried right next to a brothel. Welcome to Amsterdam!

A collection of my favorite views of Amsterdam thusfar.

A collection of my favorite views of Amsterdam thus far.

Our Lord in the Attic is a tour through a winding canal house that happens to have an entire Catholic church built into it. When Catholics were prosecuted, they could come to this hidden church to worship. Priests live in the house (technically two houses) and then the church occupies a large middle portion of the house. The house also included a confessional and dressing room. I’m not sure if all canal houses are built like this, I’ll have to go to the canal house to museum to investigate, but I found there is basically one route throughout the entire house that you have to take. There are tons of tiny staircases to climb up and down and around, and none lead to you a common room of sorts, but new higher rooms. How exhausting, but it makes for a fun maze. I loved seeing the box beds where the priests slept (basically bed-rooms) and their kitchens were completely decked out in blue and white Dutch tile. This house had a room just for washing clothes and dishes, which is an excellent idea. So smart and condensed here!

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The third floor of the church (yes, three stories of just church room)

The third floor of the church (yes, three stories of just church room)

View from the attic, I would go to church just for this every sunday!

View from the attic, I would go to church just for this every sunday!

The Old Church was equally incredible and nothing like I had seen. I don’t spend too much time in big old churches but I feel like this one was special. First of all, the floor is made up entirely of tombs. You walk around literally on where people are buried. Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia, is buried in the Old Church and you can go stand on her grave too. The stained glass windows were detailed and beautiful, and I was particularly impressed with the wood carvings. My favorite part by far was the choral section that had all of these little seats with little people engraved in them called misericords. Maybe these are common in churches, I’m not sure, but these ones enacted Dutch proverbs that were quite funny. I couldn’t help but laugh at the one of a little man “excreting” coins with a description along the lines of “I don’t have money coming out of my arse,” only at a Dutch church!

Not my picture, but what the Old Church looks like!

Not my picture, but what the Old Church looks like!

Inner Oude Kerk

Inner Oude Kerk

Saskia's grave.

Saskia’s grave.

My favorite misericord. The description: "It's like trying to out-yawn an oven door," or don't try to accomplish the impossible.

My favorite misericord. The description: “It’s like trying to out-yawn an oven door,” or don’t try to accomplish the impossible. But honestly, Dutch, who came up with this.

These museums only make me want to study more Dutch history, so I’m getting more and more excited about my Dutch Culture and Society class next block. There are so many museums to see that I’m a little overwhelmed, but I’ll get time. Annie, a friend from Hockaday that is studying abroad in Florence, came into Amsterdam last night and we met for drinks at my favorite bars. I lent her my museum card for the weekend and I’m jealous she’s seeing the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh before even I get to! I hope she enjoys them, who wouldn’t!

One Dutch MONTH down!

Absolute insanity. After having some tea with Nat last night, we came to the realization that we’re the luckiest girls on earth to be able to spend a whole year here. We outlined our weekends a bit and realized there is such little time left in the semester. School is busy, days are getting shorter, but somehow the city is still so crowded and happening. It makes getting to our destinations by bike a little more chaotic (I’ve only hit a person once, so that’s fine) but at least we’re never lonely. My week was quite busy academically but I still managed to see a museum (see earlier post), buy a new pair of rain boots (soaking wet feet are less than fun), learn more Dutch, and eat more pancakes.

I had regular class along with two labs this week for Food Production. We tested which foods had genetically-modified corn or soy, which is quite scary but expected nowadays. Days like that, when I’m in the lab or class and learning from a Dutch person about their opinion on GMOs, remind me of what a great choice I made by coming to the Netherlands. I love making Dutch friends in the lab and speaking to my professors during downtime. While talking to Hans, the lab director (who looks exactly how a middle-aged, fit, Dutch science man would look), I learned more about the weather here and how much people enjoy ice skating in the winter. I’m excited! He said the freeze doesn’t happen until December, so I have some time. Biking to Science Park five times was a little less than enjoyable, especially with rain pounding at your face, but at least I faced my fear and don’t care about rain at all anymore. I actually quite like it. My mom said I’ll miss it when I go back to either Texas or California, and I think I will. Everything stays so clean.

When I wasn’t in a lab, I was definitely experiencing the feeling of being super Dutch. I still can’t get over how nice biking at night is, and how I love to be bundled up. Listening to music makes the journey to SP less dull, but don’t worry parents, I still pay attention to cars and pedestrians; I only hit that person because I saw my friend from Hockaday walking, and I forgot that turning around prohibits you from seeing what’s in front of you. I was so excited to see her, hit the person, and my friend didn’t even see me. Oh well…

I felt super Dutch again while at Trouw on friday night. It’s the best nightclub in Amsterdam and completely FULL of stylish, attractive Dutch youths. It wasn’t creepy or anything, just the place for young people in the city to be. The music was great, the company was fun, and I look forward to going back. Yesterday, Catherine, Nat and I went exploring in the city. We found cute used clothing and yummy pancakes. I’ve never had a savory pancake, but Pancakes! in Amsterdam has some amazing ones. They even give you a little Pancakes! clog key chain when you pay.

Pancakes!, another amazing pancake restaurant. Yum. I had one with spinach, goat cheese, garlic oil, and pinenuts. No pancake will EVER be the same. We've peaked in Amsterdam.

Pancakes!, another amazing pancake restaurant. Yum. I had one with spinach, goat cheese, garlic oil, and pine nuts. No pancake will EVER be the same. We’ve peaked in Amsterdam.

Walking around the nine streets. Translation: Oh Amsterdam, you're beautiful.

Walking around the nine streets. Translation: Oh Amsterdam, you’re beautiful.

That’s all for now. I’ll be travelling next weekend to Munich but will have plenty to share. Hope I survive Oktoberfest!

 

Museum Trip 1: Amsterdam Museum!

FINALLY went to a museum in the city of museums! The Amsterdam Museum has so much to explore, ranging from old history to showing the lives of children in the Netherlands throughout time (the museum used to be the city’s orphanage, go figure.) Weirdest part of the museum would have to be the real cocaine that they had on display, but what would you expect to be in the drug history room? I liked learning that the purpose of less harsh laws for marijuana is to maintain the strict attitude towards hard and more harmful drugs, that just sounds so smart. Here are pictures from the trip with Nat. Anyone that visits the city should go, even if it’s only to walk around a building with lots of little staircases and old stuff.

The depiction of Amsterdam as a woman. Note Anne Frank in the lower right hand corner, pretty sure she's smoking a joint. The other figures are either historical or some of the artists that worked on the piece. This sums up what I've known about Amsterdam thusfar.

The depiction of Amsterdam as a woman. Note Anne Frank in the lower left hand corner, pretty sure she’s smoking a joint. The other figures are either historical or some of the artists that worked on the piece. This sums up what I’ve known about Amsterdam thusfar. I like the guy in the lower right that is known for screwing a hole into his head in order to expand his consciousness…

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Natalie in this orange hallway, kind of creepy but also cool. Learned that orange is the color of the royal family, and therefore the color of the country because of the lineage of the current family, starting with Willem van Oranje.

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Not sure if the rat is supposed to be saying the quote or not. A modern artist was commissioned to have this in the museum, in the main corridor.

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Another one of the museum’s modern works, with this pill representing more of the drug culture. These were in the same main corridor sitting on top of some classic works. It was a weird constrast. Everything in Amsterdam is weird.

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An unfortunately not so great picture of one of the dollhouse-type exhibits (this is for you, Mom!) How cute were/are little Dutch apartments.

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One of the “white cars” in Amsterdam, which is a personalized form of public transportation. I swear I’ve had a conversation with my dad about having individualized cars on the metro to give people a more private commute without having to have their own car. Of course Amsterdam already did this in the 1950s… not surprised.

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The main exhibit at the museum is the huge rug you are encouraged to walk on. The artist used prints of textiles from around the world to make a huge carpet. It looked pretty neat. Note “Goliath” in the background.

Now I have my museum card and look forward to visiting many, many more. I still need to go to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh, but also to the Tattoo Museum and Electric Ladyland, a museum of fluorescence. So many adventures, and thankfully a lot of time. I’m holding off on the Anne Frank house until Margaret gets here.

 

 

Discovering Zoethout Tea and the Positives of Being Sick Abroad

Finally, a somewhat relaxed and regular week, but only because I fell ill! The cold rain got me as soon as it started and I’ve battled a serious cold for five days now. Luckily, after countless cups of tea and kippensoep (chicken soup) I am almost completely healed. Zoethout tea, which I bought based on some purplish flowers on the box and not the name, is actually liquorice tea. I’m not surprised that I like this at all, I thought it tasted so normal, but Nat came over and thought it was magical. After looking up the Dutch name online and finding it on websites such as “Things Dutch People Like,” we realized we’re picking up some cultural norms without even knowing it! Nat and I also found a coffeeshop where we are now regulars (after two visits, so that shows how small our neighborhood is) with amazing iced coffee. Bagels and Beans. Basically a Starbucks but not a Starbucks, so I don’t feel guilty. Haven’t been to one here, so maybe I’m not the typical American that is caving into my comfort foods. Sidenote: we did go to McDonald’s last night where I had a cheeseburger, but I also had a banana milkshake which don’t exist at McDonald’s in the US! Mickey D’s here also has stroopwafel mcflurries which are incredible.

Look at this old man outside of Bagels and Beans! He was smoking a cigar too.

Look at this old man outside of Bagels and Beans! He was smoking a cigar too.

An amazing pastrami bagel. Not Dutch, but still amazing.

An amazing pastrami bagel. Not Dutch, but still amazing.

I thankfully didn’t have to miss any classes and even got some exploring in; by exploring I mean learning the bus route to Science Park because biking in a cold downpour was not exactly what I wanted to do with an aching body. My friend that was an exchange student at Hockaday for a year from Lithuania, Gaby, told me that biking in the rain is the only way to build up immunity! I’m from Texas, and if not there, California, both of which don’t have cold rain or huge biking cultures. I’m giving this period of illness to myself as culture/weather-shock and therefore a freebie. Immunity building will start now. On one of my worst days, I received my first package while here! Emily, my great friend from Claremont Graduate University, sent me a fabulous Moleskine planner, card, and picture for my wall. I opened the door in the pouring rain to be greeted with a little bit of California sunshine. Love love love mail, so feel free to email me and ask for my address!

My mail (and random things) wall, always waiting for new additions!

My mail (and random things) wall, always waiting for new additions!

I am absolutely in love with my Dutch classes. Although three hours is a long time to take in a confusing language, I really enjoy it and Dutch is so much more simple than the last language I learned–Russian–so, so far so good. We have a lot of work, but I gain the respect of my Dutch peers immediately when I tell them I’m learning, so the faster the better. They’ll help me practice also. Since I was stuck in my apartment when I wasn’t travelling to class, I had plenty of time for homework and Dutch exercises. I biked to my Dutch class on Thursday night because I was already feeling better. Biking at night is so nice. The air is fresh, barely anyone is out and about on my route from Spuistraat to my neighborhood, and you can see the city surprisingly very well.

Last night was Pål’s birthday, so we gathered at his room for pre-drinks and celebration. I love that I’m still close with the people I met the very first day. It’s comforting. Since I was finally feeling better, Nat, Jas, Devon, and I decided to do some night exploring to another bar pretty much only known by locals. Before we got there we heard crazy loud music coming out of a side street and found an Amsterdam gay pride festival/parade/celebration that we just had to stop by. This always happens to us. We end up stumbling upon the most random places and see a side of Amsterdam we weren’t expecting; I guess we were kind of expecting to see this side, but on a planned occasion. We ventured off to find Bloemenbar Nachtcafe, an incredibly cozy bar with tons of young Dutch people. Super “gezellige,” Dutch for cozy and quaint. We talked to some Dutch kids our age, one of which is studying to be a maritime officer. Who does that? The bar was playing Tupac’s “California Love,” so it felt just right. I particularly loved the flower diagrams/illustrations behind the bar, but couldn’t take a picture or I’d feel too touristy for such a hip place.

Just a HUGE pride flag, found at our parade

Just a HUGE pride flag, found at our parade

Bloemenbar exterior. From my favorite website, www.awesomeamsterdam.com.

Bloemenbar exterior. From my favorite website, http://www.awesomeamsterdam.com.

Inside of cozy Bloemenbar, my own picture this time.

Inside of cozy Bloemenbar, my own picture this time.

For my online Pitzer class, my next assignment that’s due is a photo journal of things around the city that aren’t from a tourist view. I’ve decided to show the whimsical, cute side of Amsterdam that is such a contrast to the drugs/prostitutes/common impressions that people have of the city. I’m focusing on families and decorated bikes and fun things like that; I’ll figure out a way to share my final product on the blog. Must work on that today! Thanks for reading!

“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”

From the Dutch man himself, Vincent Van Gogh. I actually stumbled upon this on the internet yesterday, but it really stood out to me. The weather has changed just to spite me; I complained that it was too hot, and how its cold and raining. I have been sick these past few days, but still go to class and explore parts of town. You’ll hear from me again in a few days, but just wanted to put this quote out here as I am learning to love many, many things in this great city (while also thinking about the things I love at home).

If You Take a Tumble, Get Up and Ride Again.

Ah, started classes with an actual bang. Some of the girls and I met up for lunch at Brug 34 on Wednesday, where Nat’s Dutch friend works. He makes a mean iced coffee, even though those don’t really exist here. Wednesday was my first Food Production lecture at Science Park and I really enjoyed it; it’s difficult to understand Dutch accents sometimes but that hasn’t caused much trouble yet. Nathan and I were cycling home through Centraal during rush hour and I took quite the fall off of my bike– but it was bound to happen one of these days! A man biking in the opposite direction was trying to pass the person ahead of him (therefore getting very close to me) and our handlebars hit each other. I, of course, went flying forward off of my bike and have the scars to prove it. Just last night I watched Nat get caught in the tram lines and fall off of hers, and I keep giggling thinking about how silly bike accidents look, so I hope someone at least got a laugh out of mine. The only thing you can do is get up and keep riding, even if you’re terrified of any bike coming in your direction for a while. Still went to Coco’s on Wednesday night after the accident and enjoyed all of my international friends!

My wounds from the fall, they look worse in person.

My wounds from the fall, they look worse in person.

Amsterdam was incredibly hot this week, maybe even worse than Texas right now. It’s humid and there’s no escape from the heat, even at night. I spent Thursday around town finding my Dutch language books as well as so many cute little stores on Spuistraat (Anna, a present will get to you eventually). Despite the crazy heat, I mustered up the energy to cook on Thursday night and made an excellent risotto. I want to take time now to focus on my cooking skills, which have dramatically improved! I really enjoy cooking, and especially enjoy finding deals at supermarkets and grocers. I had to go back to Science Park on Friday for a refresher lecture on genetics and an introduction to what we’ll do in our lab. We’re actually going to go grocery shopping and do DNA tests on the food to determine whether the corn or wheat was genetically modified–I’m really excited! I took a train to Science Park this time which I ended up being so happy about as it started pouring on my way home. I’ll eventually start riding in the rain, but I wanted to see what Amsterdam rain is like first. Friday night, some of us (Nat, Jas, Devon [new Canadian friend], Leah) went to Amsterdam Roest (where that Moderne Hippies Markt was) and it was so hip I couldn’t even stand it. Since Roest is pretty far north and removed from the city center, absolutely no tourists go. We actually ended up seeing some of our young UvA global exchange mentors there and hid from them. One thing about bars here is that people of all ages go and have a really great time. We’ll definitely be going back to Roest when they have live music.

Chicken and veggies, southern chili, mushroom risotto, and a huge salad to heal me after Grand Marnier poffertjes

Chicken and veggies, southern chili, mushroom risotto, and a huge salad to heal me after Grand Marnier poffertjes

Amsterdam Roest, that guy definitely wasn't American but I asked for a picture of his hat

Amsterdam Roest, that guy definitely wasn’t American but I asked for a picture of his hat. Note the six-fingered handprint

Saturday was our second splurge on poffertjes, but I have no regrets. The Roest girls and I took the tram and got stuck behind the protests against the US involvement in Syria. I had received an email from the US citizen services to stay clear of the embassy because of these protests, but they definitely seemed peaceful. It was interesting to see. We shopped around Leidseplein for the afternoon only to come back for naps. Then an insane night began.

Nat, Kaitlyn, Ivanna and I decided to meet up at the most popular bar in Amsterdam for beers on tap from Belgium. It’s called Cafe Belgique and is known for being incredibly small, but for some reason everyone was standing outside of the teeny bar and there were open tables inside (out of the two tables that existed, we got one). They are known for their eight great beers on tap and over fifty bottled beers. Ivanna and I got the beer of the week, which was Hommel. Still confused what Nat’s contraption was, but I think it’s tradition. We ventured off to an Irish pub (O’Reilly’s) for their first Karaoke night of the season and naturally we had to participate. We chose “Hey Jude” which was a crowd pleaser for sure. Then the night got really weird so I’ll just do quick points: 1) exploring the Red Light District seemed like a good idea at the time, and we were definitely the only females in most of the bars on our miniature pub crawl 2) we went to another Irish pub only to watch a man fall and smack his head into the floor twice because he was very gone, and the bartenders said it happens so often due to marijuana and alcohol combined (but all they need to do is sit outside afterwards?) 3) we met four dapper males (one Dutch, three English, one of which studies at Amsterdam College and the other two at Oxford) near this pub who were determined to take us four young ladies university bars that aren’t Coco’s, which was interesting as bars start closing at 3am and that’s exactly what time it was. We went home shortly after seeing this new university-bar scene because there wasn’t much to see, but it looked like a good place to be in the future. Being friends with very outgoing people pays off.

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Nat and her fun beer

Nat and her fun beer

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The ladies at O'Reilly's, pre-karaoke

The ladies at O’Reilly’s, pre-karaoke

Second Irish pub, Murphy's

Second Irish pub, Murphy’s

Dutch classes start tomorrow and I’m so ready to get started. I don’t have much homework, but paying attention in classes is incredibly important. I am waiting until I get my resident’s permit to determine if I can get a real job or not, I definitely want to look into it. The other Future Planet Studies kids and myself are trying to find environmental groups around UvA, but so far no luck. This semester will go by so quickly, and Margaret will be here before I know it (she’s coming for Halloween!)

From A-Town to Haarlem and Back Again

Witnessed a beautiful Dutch beach and a Dutch drug scandal and arrest in the past three days, so I think I covered some of the biggest aspects of the Netherlands this weekend! It’s been two weeks and I have something exciting to see every day still. Nat and I decided we will do one touristy thing a week, and try one new bar a week. My readers will be as up to date on hot Dutch happenings as someone that lives here is!

Saturday was a beautiful day for the beach. Although slightly chilly, a combination of ISN friends and Gevleweg friends planned an outing to Haarlem where we went to Woodstock 69 at Bloemendaal beach. Haarlem is a 15 minute train and then a 15 minute bus ride away from Central Station, so very doable and also cheap. Woodstock 69 is a beach club that looks like a much larger Cosmic Cafe (for my familiar Dallasites), and last Saturday they hosted the Making Waves music festival. Small bands performed onstage while the audience could sit on cushions and couches on the sand before them, or at picnic tables outside of a cool indoor bar. We stuck around for Third Floor Magic and Aestrid, then walked along the beach. The Atlantic (or technically North Sea…) was absolutely freezing so we only got our feet wet. Still, it was great to get away from the city for a little bit with some friends. We got back in time to make dinner and have a girls night out (Nat, Jas and me) at Sugar Factory, only to finish the night at a fries shop at 4am. They even had Dr. Pepper, so basically, it was heaven.

The group before leaving Bloemendaal, what a glorious (but chilly) day!

The group before leaving Bloemendaal, what a glorious (but chilly) day!

Woodstock 69 (shout out to Jim, again!)

Woodstock 69 (shout out to Jim, again!)

Some Dutch boys (frat boys, we assumed) who were more than happy to pose for my picture

Some Dutch boys (frat boys, we assumed) who were more than happy to pose for my picture

Sunday was a nothing day for me, but like I said before, those days are necessary. I mopped the apartment (which is still dirty from the previous residents, ew) and gave away one of our two fridges to Iga. I also decided to make some good southern chili, minus the green chilis because those don’t exist here! Skyping with Zack and my parents at night was pretty necessary; I miss everyone at home but at the same time absolutely love it here. I had to see Pixie’s little face since it had been a while.

Ah, Monday was another day of adventures! Since winter is coming (GoT anyone?) Nat and I figured heavy-duty rain jackets (or macs, as she calls them) are really necessary. We went to some expensive outdoor stores but ended up finding good ones at a Sports Authority-equivalent. Mine says stuff about sailing and “marine” so I think it’s a quality wind and waterproof purchase, which is exactly what was needed! On the hunt we stopped in an adorable miniature Central Market (called Marqt) for some breakfast, and I found the huge clogs that are on Instagram and below that I just had to take a picture in. We cycled into the city center to find a vintage store, Zipper, that Nat had been to the last time she was in Amsterdam. It was the best one I’ve seen in a while. Plenty of 80’s windbreakers, overalls (that I tried on but didn’t buy, kind of regretting that now) and flannel. We also stopped at the only Aldi close to our neighborhood to pick up cheap basics (the Aldis here win awards for their fruit and vegetables, who knew!) which was good and fun until Nat’s shopping bag, then bottle of fabric softener, got caught in her front tire and sprayed the entire street. I couldn’t stop laughing. That night was fajita night at a friend’s apartment; I contributed some queso, which was made with Gouda and again no green chilis, but I tried. At least we had fun talking about which concerts are must-sees this semester.

Adorable sparkling juice at Marqt, of course the Dutch would package things like this!

Adorable sparkling juice at Marqt, of course the Dutch would package things like this!

Hanging out in supersized clogs, must find one big enough to sit in!

Hanging out in supersized clogs, must find one big enough to sit in!

Today was a solo adventure for me, and I loved it. I started with trying to find a yoga studio in South Amsterdam (right near the Rijksmuseum) that has great student deals, but I believe they were closed. I will find out eventually, and have unlimited yoga classes to keep me calm and happy when winter hits. When I failed at ringing their doorbell multiple times, I took refuge in a cafe for a sparkling iced tea (these are my newest addiction, which, out of the addictions possible in Amsterdam, isn’t too bad. All drinks here are sparkling, but sparkling iced tea is pretty good!). I had noticed a man pretty much passed out outside of the window, but he had an Albert Hein bag so I thought maybe we was napping from a long day of grocery shopping. I quickly figured out he wasn’t supposed to be there when two bicycle policemen showed up (policemen here are very attractive if I might add) and handcuffed him. If I spoke Dutch I might have learned what was happening, but I honestly have no idea. I assume drugs. What was my next move? Take a picture of course!

My entertainment for midday

My entertainment for midday

After the scandal cleared I walked around Leidseplein (my first time during the day) and found many cool shops. I bought some postcards of Dutch art at Art Unlimited and ended up strolling around where all of the galleries are (they all had 1913-2013 banners, so I assume they are supporting the centennial of the Rijksmuseum). While I walked down the street, a woman on a bicycle’s purse flew off, and I decided to run into the road and get it for her. I know this will happen to me, so I figured I might as well gain some good karma while I can.

Keith Haring (and my feet) at Art Unlimited. Also the steepest staircase ever. Love how all the stores are multiple floors here!

Keith Haring (and my feet) at Art Unlimited. Also the steepest staircase ever. Love how all the stores are multiple floors here!

My first class started tonight; oddly enough, the Tuesday night portion of my Food Production class is only focused on “academic English” since most kids in my class are Dutch. The class focuses on how to write good academic papers, and the miniature assignments total 20% of our grade for Food Production. So yeah, it is slightly a waste of my time, but I get to meet cute Dutch people and maybe even help them with writing. They are the same people that are in my seminar class and lab, and as soon as I saw them, I realized they are exactly like the students I go to school with at Pitzer (natural, messy buns, sandals, the environmental science “look” must be universal). I cycled to Science Park with Nathan and Catherine, both Americans (from the South even) in my program. We took a route that stayed close to the north coast of Amsterdam and it was very beautiful. Usually I bike there past the zoo, so at least this time the journey smelled a little better.

I’m expecting a good end to the week and another Dutch adventure this weekend, probably to the outdoor Dutch history museum that is quaint and touristy but also fun/necessary. We’ll see how much I can keep up once real school lectures start tomorrow, but I will always make time for at least a few lengthy paragraphs ;]