Amsterdam / Limbo Part II

3:05 PM

My last stop in Europe was Amsterdam with Alisa, including Christmas and her 22nd birthday.

On Christmas Eve, we walked by a glowing fire. I was so excited and thought they were having a campfire and making s'mores...but no, they also had sheep and Dutch people dressed up with canes because it was a local church's living Nativity scene. Hardcore. 

Amsterdam is definitely one of the most beautiful cities I've been to, and I need to come back! Alisa and I managed to get to the Van Gogh Museum on Christmas, but we tried and failed three times to go to the Anne Frank House because the line was literally four hours long...we didn't realize you should buy a timed ticket months in advance. Learning about Van Gogh was really inspiring, though, because he only started painting when he was 27. He was very deliberate about it, learning to copy others' works and even going to art school for a bit. He worked hard to become a master, busting the narrative of artistry being a natural gift that you either have or you don't.

We ended up biking a lot for the one 24-hour period we rented...we thought we could return them to the shop by carrying them on the tram, but the tram driver turned us away and we had no option but to bike back through the snow for an hour. It made me dream of coming back in the summer, when I wouldn't have to sacrifice my hands to gangrene every time I had to lock up or unlock the bike. 

One of the more unusual things we did was bike an hour to a legalised "squat" vegan restaurant called De Peper, where we got a bowl of beet soup and a "shepherd's pie" for €7 each. De Peper is housed in the former Netherlands Film Academy building and is on the artsier, more gourmet side of Amsterdam's several (!) squat restaurants – you can also go to one that's on a boat

We didn't get to go to Winkel 43, the famous source of apple pie, because people in the Netherlands seem to take a gazillion days off from Christmas...but this one was pretty amazing, anyways.  

The day after Alisa's birthday, we got on our flight to Frankfurt at 7AM and then back to San Francisco to arrive the day before my 21st birthday. It took me a while to realize why Germany was so white from up in the sky. (Blame the California upbringing.)

Overall, it was definitely "worth" the time and effort to go to Berlin and Amsterdam after Paris because I don't know when I'll be back to Europe again. It did feel exhausting though, in the sense of battling the cold and lugging our huge suitcases around. My other friend had checked his bags into a storage service at the airport in Rome and come to join us in Berlin with just a backpack before he went back to Rome to fly home...a very smart move.

Strange to begin thinking about Europe from afar. 

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