Can you believe the year is 1/12 done? I spent the last weekend in Amsterdam, on an unintentional solo trip, but I was grateful for it anyway. The view from the train (reminded me of paris trains, but cleaner maybe) from Schiphol was the same bare trees and half-constructed buildings and fields that reminded me of the North-East of England. but when I stepped out and saw the canals I kept saying to myself holyyy shit i’m in Amsterdam: I’ve heard about it all this time form my parents, from Revuh friends, and from people who have been. My first proper trip to (continental) Europe, and the first place where i wasn’t 100% comfortable in the language (though I figured out by the end that English was no problem).
Of course, pancakes first. I order salmon and guac, grateful for my first non-salad / non homecooked meal in two weeks, but also realize later that thanks to the salad diet, I can no longer stomach more than one proper meal a day. After that I walk along the canals to noordermarkt, passing by the Anne Frank House (only to take a picture of a statue and oogle at the queue) and lululemon, and all the canals begin to look the same.
I don’t like cheese or fries, and it is both fascinating and alarming to see the amount of both of those items in Amsterdam. As for cheese, I find lavender, pesto and truffle flavored ones later in the day in Zaanse Schans and end up trying it.
Tried to go to omelegg in centrum for lunch, but it was way too crowded, so I bought a crossaint from the supermarket in Centraal station and headed out to Zaanse Schans, following the Asian tourists in the same carriage all the way to the windmills. I ask people to take my photo throughout the day, relish that feeling of being alone, but also wishing that the most important people were there to see it with me: the slow turning of the blades, the mid-afternoon sunshine, the flatness of the dutch landscape.
It is nice, I think, to relearn what it is like to travel and what it means to me. 28 january was the first day of chinese new year, and the 2nd out of 4 times away from family, which lends itself to evoking a kind of inevitable nostalgia. A lot (most) of my travel so far, especially in the time that I’ve been abroad, has been about locating the familiar -Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China, various cities in the us. there are always routines i fall back on, and travel ends up being a way of revisiting rather than challenging myself with the new. even Hokkaido was comfortable, in a way, and I was at home with the langauge, the food, and in Asia. Always i am trying to recollect, to do the same things like I once did — to evoke the same feelings as much as i know that it will never be possible. So Amsterdam was a conscious decision not to be complacent in travelling, but there is also compromise: the first night i eat Vietnamese food in de pijp, the second night, Thai food near the flower market.
These boots took me over 55km in three days. to de pijp for the best croissant + scrambled eggs and mushrooms breakfast at omelegg, then to and around the Rijksmuseum, then up to jordaan for the apple pie (with a po lo bao crust), then around the canals to wait for the red light district to turn red, then to dinner and back. Grateful for the weather that I could walk around in, for the temperatures warmer than Durham, for the paved roads and for the stairs in the Rijksmuseum that led me to interesting things.
For the canals that guided the way, and the bridges that allowed me to cross them.