Voorjaar

Despite the worst road/bike rage I’ve witnessed in a while, today was a beautiful day! I was able to stop in a park for a bit on my way to meet Gaby for lunch and take some pictures of the flowers in bloom.

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In other life news, I posted my last entry too early because my wonderful friends threw me a surprise birthday dinner on monday night! Paula cooked a delicious paella. I was completely surprised and expecting to eat Albert Heijn pizza with Natalie and watch Girls! Ignore my incredibly grungy appearance, but here’s a group shot from the night. I also accepted my internship for the Center for International Environmental Law on Monday night. It was a celebration for multiple things!

These people are wonderful!

These people are wonderful! Before I arrived, Natalie told everyone I’d show up in my lazy clothes which consist of leggings, a sweater, and birkenstocks with socks. Surprise, she knows me well.

A “Dam” Good 21st Birthday

Currently sitting in my favorite Bagels and Beans drinking a birthday iced coffee, because the weather today somehow changed and it’s sunny and beautiful and warm. I even saw some tulips blooming today while biking. What a perfect day!

The weekend was pretty perfect as well. Natalie and I did a birthday day trip to Rotterdam, I celebrated on Saturday night with all my girls, and had a birthday brunch with Natalie today. Shout out to Nat for being such a wonderful friend and birthday coordinator, she made it the most special birthday.

Rotterdam is about an hour and half away from Amsterdam by train; we always get mixed reviews of the city because it’s pretty different from Amsterdam. The buildings are bigger and very modern (see photography) and it feels like a much bigger city. However, because it’s in South Holland, it was still beautiful. There’s a small historic neighborhood that does have canals, so there’s a little bit of Amsterdam charm. Just because it’s different doesn’t make it bad!  Our first stop was a conceptual cafe called Lokaal Espresso (see cafe bucket list page). We then managed to see the famous cube houses on Blaak, the Erasmus bridge, Witte de With Contemporary Art Museum, Het Nieuwe Instituut (The New Institute for architecture and design), Delfshaven, and a shopping area.

Some great Rotterdam street art

Some great Rotterdam street art

The cube houses were really neat and close to the water. I learned that my friend from Leiden has friends that actually live in the second one from the right in my picture. The Erasmus bridge was huge and we didn’t get too close but Nat thought it was important because she’s on an Erasmus program, and the bridge is named after Erasmus of Rotterdam. We stumbled upon the Witte de With museum which was free for us of course and had a really creepy exhibit called “The Crime was Almost Perfect,” all about the modern crime genre. We had planned to see the architecture museum because that’s what Rotterdam is known for, but it was somewhat underwhelming because a few exhibits were closed. We strolled through the wallpaper exhibit and that was pretty cool. They had the Warhol cows. Delfshaven is the historic district which we got somewhat lost on the way to but luckily Rotterdam isn’t that large. No shops were open but it was still a beautiful little area. After Delfshaven we headed home for a big curry dinner with all of our good girl friends, so yummy.

Cube houses on Blaak

Cube houses on Blaak

Classic study abroad bridge picture...

Classic study abroad bridge picture…

Neat street signs neat the Witte de WIth

Neat street signs neat the Witte de WIth

Witte de With exhibit, weird but enlightening

Witte de With exhibit, weird but enlightening

Delfshaven, a little bit of Amsterdam in Rotterdam

Delfshaven, a little bit of Amsterdam in Rotterdam

I spent time relaxing on Saturday before a big night out. Nat came over with champagne and gifts, so sweet. I had the rest of the girls over for some pre-drinks and we got ready to go to Chupitos, a famous shooter bar in Leidseplein (and of course the perfect place to celebrate a 21st birthday) that involves a lot of alcohol on fire and such. We met another friend while out and had a really great time at Chupitos then the Cooldown Cafe, a very dutch mini club/bar near Chupitos. Overall a great pre-brithday night and climax of my birthday weekend!

Gifts from Nat!

Gifts from Nat!

It's all legal (in America now, anyway!)

It’s all legal (in America now, anyway!)

Nat and I got up and went to a long and lazy brunch today in celebration of the real day. We found Bakers and Roasters as one of the best places for brunch in Amsterdam; brunch is my favorite meal and I wanted good brunch, not just pancakes! It’s actually an expat New Zealander establishment but yummy. I had the Huevos Rancheros (so NOT Dutch but so yummy) and Nat had the B&R churizo sweet potato hash with fried eggs. I wanted some of their amazing dessert but was way too full. Luckily my roommate bought me 3 adorable cupcakes from The Mad Bakers down Haarlemmerdijk.

Bakers and Roasters, de Pijp

Bakers and Roasters, de Pijp

Bakers and Roasters, de Pijp

Bakers and Roasters, de Pijp

Happy birthday to me! A perfect Dutch weekend and a birthday to remember.

My sleek backpack birthday present from the family on my Dutch black bike

My sleek backpack birthday present from the family on my Dutch black bike

Study Abroad Portfolio Statement Page

Greetings y’all,
I added yet another new page to the blog, find it on the top bar. Pitzer requires students who are abroad to complete and submit writing assignments with a variety of topics. Our final assignment was to reflect on our writing exercises (in a portfolio statement) and then reflect on our time abroad as a whole. My statement is only reflective of my first few months as the program is designed for one semester only students, but I hope to complete another reflection in June. This page (and essay) sums up my experiences/what I’ve gained/etc. and I haven’t decided if I will include a few of the individual assignments on the page as well. Check back in a bit, maybe you’ll see a surprise essay on environmentalism in Amsterdam in a few days.

In the meantime, look at my cafe page and gaze at this beauty:

Look at that face, Sjef!

Look at that face, Sjef!

Anna in Amsterdam

Having my sister around made me realize many things but mainly this: to see all the necessities of Amsterdam, you must be here for at least five days. Luckily she’s a good sport (except when it comes to rain) and an amazing researcher, so I didn’t have to do that much planning aside from choosing which of my favorite places I wanted to show her. I think we saw all of them… I could write a novel about what we did this week but for the sake of my time and yours, I’ll keep it to highlights. Only having one class during her time here helped tremendously and I was able to see some places and museums that I hadn’t gotten around to. Anna was here from February 7 to 13, and left in the early morning. The weather was horrible but what can you do. We did see the sun a few times, so at least she got to see a  few rare sightings while here. We split the days into areas of Amsterdam. It turned out perfectly.

Sisters in Amsterdam!

Sisters in Amsterdam!

Day 1: Bumming around my neighborhood/Haarlemmerplein/Kalverstraat
Day 2: Southwest/West Amsterdam (museumplein, albert cuypt/de pijp, burgers, a new coffee place, shopping)
Day 3: Jordaan/Nine streets (Pancakes!, Anne Frank Museum), more shopping (browsing, rather)
Day 4: North Amsterdam (the EYE), then Bombay Bicycle Club concert at Melkweg in Leidseplein
Day 5: South Amsterdam (FOAM, Utrechtstraat), then Anna went back alone to Museumplein for the Rijks and Van Gogh
Day 6: East Amsterdam (Jewish Historical Museum, Rembrandthuis), then went west again for poffertjes…

Museums were a huge part of her trip because Anna loves them. Me, not so much, but I hadn’t seen a few so I was happy to fit them in. The Stedelijk museum (modern) hadn’t changed but was still enjoyable. My favorite is the Null style of art that uses some neutral-colored plastics and white feathers. I was really happy to see the EYE film institute because the building stares at me every time I’m near central station from across the water. We didn’t know which exhibit was going on but it turned out to be what nightmares are made of. The Quay Brothers are American identical twins that do stop-motion animation. Basically Tim Burton if he did things with a 1920s style. The exhibit had other objects/films to enrich the experience, mostly surgical instruments or mummified hands… I highly suggest looking at their website. Seeing the mini sets, however, was super cute.

Sisters in the Stedelijk

Sisters in the Stedelijk

The EYE film institute from outside

The EYE film institute from outside

Quay brothers art, reminded me of "A Bug's Life"

Quay brothers art, reminded me of “A Bug’s Life”

I also enjoyed FOAM, the photography museum, since I hadn’t been either. The had a William Klein exhibit but I was having major problems with my contact lenses and couldn’t really see anything (typical) but from what I could gather, it was cool. I also suggest the Rembrandt House Museum because it’s huge and has paint-making and etching demonstrations. Rembrandt has a huge collection of worldly objects that I believe he had to sell because he was completely broke. Those artists… It’s close to the Jewish Historical Museum which has basic information on the religion and also the presence of Jews in Amsterdam/the Netherlands. Super informative and also interesting.

William Klein art

William Klein art

Food, obviously, was another huge part of Anna’s trip because she loves good food. Despite me telling her multiple times that the Dutch aren’t known for having good food, we found a few really great restaurants with tasty traditional Dutch dishes! We had both sweet and savory pancakes while she was here, so that took care of two meals. After a little research we found Wilde Zijnen in Javaplein, a more contemporary Dutch restaurant that was full of hip dutchies despite being in little Morocco. I had saurkraut soup and a rib eye while Anna had some type of fish roll and the wild boar stew. Definitely going back when a nice dinner is in store.

Wilde Zwijnen

Wilde Zwijnen

We also enjoyed a traditional Dutch meal at a very cozy restaurant, more in the city center called Haesje Claes. Anna got her seafood fix with some salmon with lobster sauce, I had saurkraut stamppot with ham, sausage, and a meatball, and we shared cheese croquettes (typical Dutch appetizer). While dessert there was tempting, we opted for cocktails at one of my favorites, Vesper Bar. A perfect and tasty evening.

Anna at Haesje Claes.

Anna at Haesje Claes.

Dinner at Haesje Claes.

Dinner at Haesje Claes.

My drink from Vesper this time.

My drink from Vesper this time.

Snacks were also plentiful, no one should be mistaken there. We enjoyed the classic fries with garlic sauce (that basically tastes like ranch dressing), Dutch apple pie, and plenty of cappuccinos. We passed a bakery and I told Anna that I had never had a French macaron before, so we did some research and found the best macaron place in Amsterdam, located in De Pijp. We got 8 different ones, almost too pretty to eat.

Apple pie in the EYE restaurant!

Apple pie in the EYE restaurant!

The macaron place, Poptasi in de Pijp

The macaron place, Poptasi in de Pijp

I’ll end this post with a few more pictures from our time together. It was so nice having family here and I hope she enjoyed herself. My love for the city as well as my sister was replenished, and now I can’t wait to see the city from a new perspective in the coming weeks!

No explanation for this one...

No explanation for this one…

Bombay Bicycle at Melkweg

Bombay Bicycle at Melkweg

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy

Just a shorter update before classes start this week. I’ll have a nice long entry after my sister visits, can’t wait until Friday! I was so ready to announce that Amsterdam’s winter officially didn’t come this year, but now it has changed its mind again! My days fluctuate between sunshine and gloominess, but either way I try not to let the weather dictate my mood or activities. I’m still crossing places off of my cafe bucket list and getting ready for classes to start Monday. Just living the life of a Dutchie, and loving every day.

This past week has been slow but I’ve mustered up the energy and money for a few adventures. We went to ikea, always an adventure and one filled with fifty cent hotdogs after buying sheets for visitors. We met new neighbors (yay!) and then crashed the ISN introduction party for the newbies of this semester. Of course, being there reminded me how much I disliked it the first time around as it felt like high school. Yesterday, when the sun came out, Nat, Devon and I took advantage by strolling down to a favorite cafe called Two for Joy (see cafe tab for pictures!). It is so comfortable there and such a great place to talk. The name is based off of the nursery rhyme, I like this version the best:

One for sorrow, two for joy,
three for a girl, four for a boy,
five for silver, six for gold
seven for a secret, never to be told,
eight for a wish, nine for a kiss,
ten for a time of joyous bliss.

After we got home, Natalie and I walked along the dock right next to where we live. I’m unsure how I went all of last semester without exploring it, but it’s a beautiful place. People dock their ships there and most likely live there as well. The sky was clear and we could look straight out to see Amsterdam North. I can see many picnics taking place on that pier. I’m thankful I can uncover such beautiful places every day, and so close to home even. What a perfect friday afternoon.

Danglin out on the dock with Nat

Danglin out on the dock with Nat

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lil on pier
Devon alerted us that today, February 1, was the last day to ice skate in Museumplein. Somehow this activity got away from me last semester when the outdoor rinks around town opened (or I avoided them based on my dad’s skating accident back in the day), but since today was my last chance I just had to go for it. The Dutch people know how to do it yet again and supplied old wooden chairs for people to push around on the ice for balance if they couldn’t skate. I had never seen that! Fortunately none of us needed them. Devon is Canadian and worked in a hockey shop so she was a total pro while Calum had never skated before. I was somewhere in the middle and got into my groove pretty quickly. There was a pop-up cafe connected to where skates could be rented, and also where we enjoyed coffee and hot chocolate during a break. It felt like winter today, so maybe it’ll stick around for a little longer. I really don’t mind it, at least during these days when I’m not on my bike for 10 miles.

Being a dweeb in front of the I Amsterdam sign, what else is there to do.

Being a dweeb in front of the I Amsterdam sign, what else is there to do.

Posing with Devon.

Posing with Devon.

...and Calum, holding on for dear life.

…and Calum, holding on for dear life.

Although last week I hated the time spent alone in my apartment, I love now the time that I’ve had just living and being. There’s no pressure to sightsee or completely fill my days with activities. This is the time I knew I’d want here, just living as a local and seeing a city from a view that most kids my age don’t get to see. Even though we didn’t go out of the country on these two weeks off, I still enjoyed myself and am well-rested for classes. Looking forward to a great week. Tot ziens!