Officially one week in Amsterdam as of about 8 hours ago, and I honestly can’t believe it. My favorite things thusfar include:
1. Saying aloud “I picked the best city in the world!” when seeing something cute
2. Yelling “DING DING DING” to people standing on the bike path, but this was before I got my bell
3. Finding cool things to do on websites such as http://www.awesomeamsterdam.com
4. Spending time with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.
First, I’ll share pictures of the apartment now as it’s in a little better shape. We just found out we have a bit of an earwig problem and found some gross mold, but I will talk to the caretaker about it tomorrow hopefully. It still needs to feel like home, but as my family and friends know I spend all of my time in my bed anyway, so I’ve been mainly concerned with my bedroom.
It is only Monday, and I have this entire week off. I finally received an email from my science faculty about an introduction meeting I have tomorrow. I was starting to get worried that my registration hadn’t gone through or something; the university is so large that you must determine your scheduling yourself, without any email prompts or instructions (even for international students!). I’m on the right track now, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable. The weekend flew by, just as the days do. Saturday night, my building decided to take it easy and do a group dinner with some of our friends. We ate at the Callum flat (two Callums live there, Callum and Calum). Iga (from Poland) made an amazing mushroom risotto, and Callum showed off some major cooking skills with a potato omelette and some roasted zucchini/tomato something or other. A few girls made salads and I provided the stroopwafels for dessert. I was majorly impressed with the cooking skills displayed, and I have been inspired to become quite the cook. I have the time and the resources, so why not. The night was filled with good food and good company, a table full of international students that will be at the university anywhere from one semester to three years, ages ranging from 19 to 25, and home countries ranging from the west coast of the US to Norway, to the Czech Republic.
Nat and I were on the hunt for flat decorations and decided to venture to the markets on Sunday. Unfortunately, not a lot of markets are open on Sundays, but we found the Moderne Hippies Markt in East Amsterdam online and it was fantastic. Getting there by bike wasn’t as easy as finding the market online, but we are incredibly great at getting lost but eventually finding our way. We finally found the market in the yard of Amsterdam Roest, an awesome bar that is definitely the most hipster place we’ve found in Amsterdam thus far. It’s in a somewhat deserted warehouse district. Nevertheless, Nat and I will be returning. The market sold a ton of dreamcatchers, jewelry, used clothing, and massages, amongst other beautiful things. Unfortunately, this market was a one-day event, but it was great to see.
After a cloudy/rainy morning, we decided to try to find famous Dutch pancakes. This prompted another adventure as we rode through town and happened upon Nieumarkt, another Sunday market that was open and busy. We spotted tapestries from the street and knew we had to stop. Markets are full of imported goods, lots of Rasta-inspired items, military surplus, Dutch antiques, and shitty tourist stuff. You have to pass up a lot of stuff, but if you’re looking for imported tapestries, any market will do. We each bought two; Nat needed one to keep the sun from blaring into her room (that’s a problem here in the mornings, at least for now) and I wanted wall decorations and one to cover a horrid lime green chair that came with my room. We wanted to find pancakes again, and continued biking through the city.
After a while of no luck we found ourselves in the way south, and I found calm in the AMERICAN APPAREL FLEA MARKET that I didn’t realize was still in Amsterdam!! Sorry, Mom, I had to go! It was absolutely heavenly and cheap. One of the girls working there suggested a pancake place right near the market that had the “best poffertjes in Amsterdam” and yes, yes they did. De Carrousele Pannenkoeken. Nat and I couldn’t even talk; we sat in silence eating these heavenly pancakes after a day of riding like madwomen through a city we’re still getting to know. But honestly, there’s no other way to get to know your way around. I feel so much more confident after our adventures.
Monday, today, was another day of exploring (also known as getting lost) and shopping for cheap things for our apartments. Leah and I went to Blokker (discount home goods store right near our home) and Albert Hein, the grocery store, where I picked up healthy and cheap things that I’ll cook tonight. NOTE: something I didn’t understand when I moved here was that the city center (about 10 minutes from our neighborhood) is the only part of the city that accepts MasterCard and Visa. The little shops where we live only accept Dutch bank cards (one of which I don’t have yet) or cash; the cash machine at the Albert Hein won’t even accept my Dutch MasterCard! Learning where to get cash when you can is key. After returning home, Nat and I met up and headed to the housing office and Waterlooplein, again in east Amsterdam. We were almost hit by cars or trams only maybe twenty times. We found cheap and silly postcards/movie photos at Waterlooplein for decoration, then headed home in crazy traffic. We’re getting around, and that’s what matters most. On our way home we stopped at a Hema again (basically a Dutch Target) for basic home things, and got ice cream (softijs- something?); what I didn’t know is that they call rainbow sprinkles “disco dip” and this is possibly the best thing I’ve learned about Dutch people so far.
- Sometimes I can’t help breaking out in a huge smile while biking around, and I know I look like an idiot, but I can’t help it. It happened more times today as Nat and I almost died in the tram lines while carrying around an old movie poster of Kevin Bacon, but it generally happens because I’m having a really great time. I can’t wait for my Dallas friends to arrive in Europe and experience these things with me, but in their own countries. Only a week and I know that I’ll have an unforgettable year.