Back in November I got some unexpected money and decided to use the money to take the girls to London. After some horrible visions of grouchy girls wading through soggy London streets, I reconsidered. I would take the girls to Disney in January and I would go to Europe on my own. My world traveler friend R and I sat down with a map and he helped me decide on the Netherlands as my destination. The next couple of entries are about my adventures on that trip.
Day two. After waking in the middle of the night for several hours I reawaken at 830 and head down to breakfast, my first in the Netherlands. I am surprised to find savory meats and cheeses alongside (to my delight) fresh bread and yogurt. A chef prepares egg dishes at a skillet. There is juice and strong coffee (coffee regular, I’ve learned). And the more brown-cream like liquid, is not cream. I’m not sure what it is, but I don’t like the taste of it.
With the help of the beautiful blonde at the front desk, I’ve booked an appointment for later in the day for a massage at a sauna. Until my appointment time arrives I’ve decided to walk to the dam.
The street my hotel is on follows the path of a canal, who’s name I struggle both to remember or pronounce. Bricks pave the sidewalks and I am frequently surprised by the sound of a tiny bell as a bike whooshes past me. Some of the cars are comically small to me and some are plugged in. The air is cool and crisp, it smells like my grandmother’s living room- a mixture of flowers and musty linens. A muscular young woman lifts a heavy bag of rocks onto a rope which is then hoisted by a pulley to an unseen man on the third floor. Most of the buildings are made of stone or brick and rise only four or five floors. The windows are huge and must allow a beautiful view of the charming city. There is a noticeable absence of trash and it is remarkably quiet. I, literally, get lost on the streets as I work to find landmarks to identify my location. Over the course of the morning I start to slowly figure things out. At one point, believing I have finally located The Dam, I discover I am two blocks in the opposite direction so I elect to take a canal cruise and see the city from the water.
Feeling a bit wobbly from jet lag and a little lost within the exotic sounds of the indigenous language, I retreat to a cafe. This is an important difference in Amsterdam, a cafe, not a coffee shop. My coffee arrives with a tiny cookie and real cream. I breathe in the distance of all things familiar. I am alone, but it feels ok. I have broken the bounds of earth, quieted all the voices that say no. I have left behind all the excuses and I’m here.