Monthly Archives: April 2016

Reflections, Alice, are not among your strengths

Hello all, it is me again! Now that I have taken you through the long ride of my travels for spring break, this post will be a lot more relaxed. I won’t be taking you to a beautiful city of spires or up into the wild, barren land of lochs and mountains. I want to take time to reflect, because that is what you do when you are about three weeks away from coming home. I’d like to write about the post-travel experience (sort of like the aftermath, honestly), but for right now I’ll focus on what I learned, and what I miss about home.

I think I was avoiding writing a reflection because that would mean that this whole thing is more or less over. I still have some traveling left to do, and three weeks can feel like a long time. I think I am also feeling pressure about final exams, since I have been studying quite a bit in the last few days.

Here is what I have gathered from my time abroad:

I learned how to rely completely on myself. When all I had was what I could strap to my shoulders, I learned to cut away excess and only take what I needed. I didn’t care if my hair looked good, and I couldn’t be bothered to make my eyelashes blacker or longer. I was too busy exploring little corners of the world, trying to remember what I learned in Latin and Mythology to decipher a carving on a 12th century church or on a black-figured vase.

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At the end of last semester, Carrie and I had our car packed to the ceiling when we were moving out of our apartment in Fredericksburg. We barely fit all of our clothes, furniture and other junk, shoving extra stuff into the crannies of empty cup holders or in between seats. I look on this memory with embarrassment and hilarity now, realizing that I probably didn’t need half the stuff I drove down I95 with last fall. I think a skill/lesson I will bring back with me from this experience is the ability to pack light and minimally. I lived out of what I could carry in one suitcase for four months; I don’t think I need a whole car to fit what is essential.

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I brushed up on how to start from scratch. I made three really great friends here – Hannah, Morgan and Cat. I somehow slid over to them when we were all waiting in the January cold to get on the bus to Saint Andrews. Last week, Hannah told me she had gone home that night and told her mom she was excited because she had made friends. I told her I did the exact same thing. Working from the ground up, I think, is both terrifying and character-building, tiring and healthy, emotionally and relationally difficult, but important. I realized that I lay a lot on the people in my life, and I have a very defined comfort zone when it comes to friends and family. People are always moving, though, and it is important to stretch those relationship muscles that may get soft after being in a constant system of only people you know (and who know you) well. It is vital to keep up that skill, especially now, since my life in the next five and ten years, I expect, will be constantly changing and in motion.

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When I think about home, I can picture it with the utmost vibrancy: the way my house looks with the June sun bringing out the dark windows, or the rich colors of my mother’s rose bushes in the back yard. I always remember the insignificant bits too – the way the sidewalk curves to the left or the faded glass table on the back porch that is fixed in my earliest memories. I can imagine myself driving down my street, on my way to work or to a friend’s house, and remember exactly how to get there, which streets to turn on, where the traffic lights are. Home is still so present in me, right in the forefront of my mind, right before my eyes.

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Home is also people for me. I miss the bustle and routine of my house, and the loud family that occupies it. I miss watching Perry Mason with my dad while I bake cookies from scratch in a kitchen that is not occupied by freshman boys who trash it every time they cook. I miss the discussions we have around a dinner table heaped with home-cooked food, cutting each other off and going back and forth all at once. I also miss the friends I left, in order to have this experience. I miss the encompassing atmosphere good friends give me, where I feel like I can stutter and not be laughed at, or be as weird as I am and not feel like they think I am completely insane. I love that I can speak without fear and run about without worry of being judged. It is hard to find people and form a relationship as deep as that in such a short period of time, only to part ways once it is all complete.

I feel like, in some ways, I have been on my guard all these months because I don’t feel that safe atmosphere to be exactly who I am with the people I have met. This may also be because it is all in the back of everyone’s mind that this is not permanent and it will all end eventually. I feel this especially now, when it is the three-week mark. I’d describe how I feel, and how I think other people are feeling, as checked out. Knowing that you may never see someone again after this, or that you’d have to make an effort in order to keep in touch, causes this phenomenon. I don’t think it is something to hate or to try and get away from, I think it is being human. Effort, especially relational or emotional, can be hard to muster, and it is understandable why it is often brushed aside.

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Despite this jumbled (and pretty negative) outlook, I did make good friends here. I slowly began to feel safe with them after some time and patience. I experienced the gift of travel to an even fuller extent: when it is shared between other people. I traveled to Saint Andrews and Aberdeen with Cat, and we will always have that memory between us, keeping us connected. I saw Belfast with Hannah, and we took a Black Cab tour together and learned about the religious intolerance of Northern Ireland, side by side. Morgan, Hannah and I all explored Dublin together, and I will always have those memories of us together, the places encircling the background.

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I think I have often pointed out the difficulties of travel; the uglier, grittier parts that make me (and maybe you?) stop and question whether it is all worth it. And now, to answer the question that is always asked at the close of an era: Would you do anything differently?

No, I wouldn’t. To get here, where I am now, couldn’t have been reached by staying within the boundaries I set for myself. I had to move, be thrown off the edge in order to see myself, listen to myself, and know another part of the vast world we reside within. I’ll leave you with a quote, because beautiful words from far more talented people sound better than anything I could say:

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

Eventually, I’ll get another post up about my week in Ireland, as well as my upcoming long weekend in Sweden. I have one more trip planned for this experience: Greece. I’ll write again soon!

A Turn About Italy: Firenze & Roma

The next morning I watched carefully out the train windows as we chugged down through Switzerland, heading south towards Firenze. I saw the gradual changes of Austrian-Switzerland houses and countryside turn to the timeless Italian ones. The sun showed more and more, and the land basked in it. I felt the most at home in Florence, because I had been there for a week a few years ago when Mandy had studied abroad there.

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I had a bit more of an agenda once we arrived, just because I was familiar with the space. The next morning we ventured to the Boboli gardens on the farther side of the city. I had been there a few years ago with my parents and sisters, and I wanted to show Kara. We paid 9 euro to get in, but it was so worth it. The Italians know how to make a good garden.

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Kara passed out on her hostel bed after we had had some pizza, so I wen out on my own for a while. It was warm and backlit by the midday sun, and the stone of the buildings towering above me were made grainy and vibrant. I bought a drink and sat for a while to read on the steps in a piazza. I was tired but wired. I was so happy and excited to be in a city I knew, and one that I had a heart for. But I was also happy to be alone, more or less for the first time in several days. My only regret for this trip? I wish I had had more confidence in myself to travel alone, at least to one city/country. It is a skill that I need to perfect; I need to rely more on myself alone, and be okay with being alone. Regardless, I cherished that hour or two alone, while Kara slept.

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Later, we went to all my favorite places in Firenze. We got gelato at the hog statue, observed the Duomo, and bought a scarf or two at the San Lorenzo market. While we sat and ate our gelato in the Duomo piazza, I noticed quite a few Carabinieri, the Italian soldiers/military. They had large black guns strapped in front and fancy, sophisticated hats. Kara and I had differing perceptions of their presence in a busy, public place. I felt safer with them watching and just being present; I had felt the same way when I encountered soldiers in Israel over the summer. The heightened security and presence of soldiers who are professionals in what they do made me feel more at ease. Kara, on the other hand, thought it more aggressive and intense, making the atmosphere of the place tenser.

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Our second (and sadly last) night in Florence we went to a restaurant Mandy reminded me of, one that we had been to the last time I had been in the city. We spilt a bottle of white wine, bruschetta and pasta. We were sitting outside in a covered tent type of set up. I was completely content, and my only concern was where we would get gelato after dinner.

If ever in Firenze, this is the place to go!
If ever in Firenze, this is the place to go!

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We roll into Rome about midday. By the time we had arrived, I was more or less spent. My fatigue was not crushing, I think it was just delayed or numbed, because my body was awake, but my mind was perpetually blank. It had been ten days since I had begun, and I think I was hitting the wall, coming to the end of my spring break rope. Roma was the last stop, and I’d be back in Scotland presently. I think Kara and I were starting to hate each other too, which I think is completely normal.

We took a long walk and got gelato. We were in a hostel right by the train station, in a more residential area. We were about a mile walk from all the major tourist sights, which was actually very nice. We weren’t bothered with noise or crowds, and the walking always felt good.

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Our hostel had a free pasta dinner to anyone who sighed up. Kara saw a sign for a club crawl event that night that the hostel would be holding, and more or less pressured me to sign up for it. It was 20 euro, and you’d get a free drink at each club, and free access. I didn’t want to go at all honestly – and I didn’t understand Kara’s sudden intense desire to go to a club. Nonetheless, I signed and we sat down to wait for the pasta.

I eavesdropped on a conversation two Australian girls and one American girl were having next to me. The American was telling the other two about her life at home, and it made me think of mine. She said that travel doesn’t necessarily change you immediately, like when you return home people may not see an astronomically big change in you (physically, and otherwise). She said that it sometimes would be ten years down the road that the person you are wouldn’t have been that person had you not traveled and experienced for an extended period of time. I chewed on that as I sat blankly in that hostel dining room. After making the major decision to not take an internship that seemed perfect but may not have been right for me, it related so well to what this girl was vocalizing. I felt better about myself, and my own voice in my head that had been criticizing my decision since I had made it finally shut up, for a while at least.

A guy and a girl came and sat down beside us in the dining room of the hostel, and after a moment, turned to us and we began to talk. They had not known weather we spoke English or not, and were relived when they discovered our language. After only a few minutes, I discovered Emily was from Falls Church, VA and Will was from Centerville, VA. We talked more quickly then, and with more excitement. They were studying in Spain, and would be in Roma until Friday. We ran through a list of people we both knew or had heard of at each of our schools back home, and discussed travel and exchanged stories.

As I sat there, I had a stronger and stronger desire to skip the club crawl and remain right where I was for the evening. All of a sudden the girl from the front desk came over to Kara and I and informed us the crawl wasn’t happening – not enough people had signed up. She gave us our 20 euro back, and “just for our trouble” we got a free beer to enjoy. All is well that ends well, I guess?

Kara and I went to the grocery store in the train station a little later that night, just to get a drink and something sweet. I made the mistake of buying a corkscrew (just because I had been meaning to get one and they had fancy ones at this supermarket) when I realized that it had a knife attached to it. I hadn’t paid extra to check a bag, I hadn’t needed to. So my next plan was to return it with the receipt I saved. But then morning came and the hostel staff cleaned our rooms, and they had taken out the trash, the little white paper nowhere to be found. I ended up leaving it on the desk in the room – perhaps for some other traveler to pop open a good bottle of wine with.

Fulfilling the promise I made 8 years ago!
Fulfilling the promise I made 8 years ago!

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Kara and I knocked out seeing Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the many ruins along the way. When I was thirteen, Carrie and I had thrown our coins into the fountain, sealing the promise that we would some day return to Roma. I fulfilled my promise to this marble city when I tossed my small, bronze, 2 cent coin into the turquoise water. We stopped for pizza and gelato on our way to the Pantheon. We sat in an empty restaurant and chowed down on some margarita.

Fields of tourists
Fields of tourists

The Colloseum is stunning; there is nothing more thrilling than seeing it from a long way off down the main street, and slowly making your way towards it. I tried hard to picture what this area looked like a few thousand years ago. I thrive on antiquity, and I am so happy I have had the chance to study it. Kara and I sat for a time near Trajan’s column, a structure I had studied all this semester in my Roman Propaganda class. I told Kara about it, amazed at how much I could remember about each panel and what the overall themes were. It was astounding at how clear and intact the column was – very different from seeing a photocopy of it on a screen or in a book.

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I didn’t sleep that night. My flight was at 7AM at the airport a 30 minute drive away. Our hostel suggested it, so I caved and paid for an expensive taxi to get me there. The man was very nice, and spoke good English. There was nobody on the roads, and the man sped like a maniac. I tried to act collected and relaxed, but I do admit I was slightly afraid of his speed as we departed from Roma and came into the dark outskirts. I got to the airport in maybe fifteen minutes. The flight home was rough, with me falling asleep every five minutes, only to jerk back awake as the plane shifted. I survived twelve days on the road, and I am proud of myself!

Wein + Feldkirch +Zürich

We rolled through Brno, Czech Republic on out way further east, to Wein (Vienna), Austria. In all the countries I’d see through a train window, I noticed detailed, vibrant graffiti. I’d like to study the history of graffiti one day; every time I feel like it has become a dead practice, I am surprised by its presence.

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The bartender in our hostel’s bar was named Leo, from Argentina. He seemed to be living the golden life – traveling place to place, getting a job at a hostel or restaurant, seeing the world in the process. He had been to D.C. before and we talked a moment about it. Of course he had been to the bar scene in the Adam’s Morgan and DuPont Circle area.

Our hostel was in the more residential area of Vienna, and that first afternoon we walked a mile or two to get to the “hipster” and more populated city center. I love walking; travel makes you like it after a few months abroad. Though it was long, Kara and I got to see so much of the city by walking across it. Our destination was a movie theater; we had decided to enjoy a night in the cinema in Vienna since we were tired from the train.

We walked the grounds of Franz Ferdinand’s “crib,” as I like to call it, on our way to the downtown area. Belvedere Palace was the last home of the archduke before he and his wife Sophie were assassinated, commencing World War I. I have to say, it was a very fancy house. I wouldn’t mind living there, and if I did, I’d never leave the house!

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The back of the palace + the gardens
The back of the palace + the gardens

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We walked through the major university that is in the center, which was fun because I felt at home on a college campus. I saw people my age relaxing on the green, or walking with backpacks in and out of buildings. It was about dusk, the best time of day (that is also the most fleeting).

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Kara and I found an outdoor market I had seen on a map earlier, and we stopped for a quick, small bite. A very nice man who spoke German to Kara and English to me sold us cheap, filling schnitzel. I was thankful Kara knew quite a bit of German from school, it would be handy for us later. We saw My Big Fat Greek 2, which was a good night of laughing in the cinema for me. I noticed that I felt relived, or maybe just content that I was viewing a film in English. I guess that was a normal feeling, when you feel separated from the primary language you speak for an extended period of time.

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Street art in the outdoor market
Street art in the outdoor market
Gigantic popcorn in the Vienna cinema!
Gigantic popcorn in the Vienna cinema!

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The next morning, Kara and I used the Vienna metro to get around. This underground subway is one of the nicest I have ever taken! It was cheap, easy to figure out, and quick. We took it to the Schloß Schönbrunn (Schloss in the German word for palace, as Kara informed me). This palace was known as Franz Joseph’s home, the ruler of the Habsburg Monarchy for more than sixty years. We toured the inside, going room by room. I was not allowed to take any photos inside, (though I did sneak one of the frescos in the grand ballroom, which was full of mirrors) but I took many on the grounds and in the gardens.

The only photo I snuck in the Schloss
The only photo I snuck in the Schloss
Garden fountain
Garden fountain

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On a whim, Kara suggested we go to the Danube Island, a stop on the metro near our hostel’s stop. I had also seen the little piece of land surrounded by water on the map the day before, and I was so happy we went! It reminded me of Roosevelt Island or Belle Isle in Richmond, Virginia. I felt right at home, and Kara and I bought ice cream from a vendor and walked about the small strip of land in the fading afternoon.

Danube Island!
Danube Island!

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We bought tickets for the Mozart concert they hold every night in the palace; it was Kara’s idea. The concert was a delight, just as the one in the Czech Republic was. They had two opera singers perform as well as two ballet dancers. In the final encore song, the orchestra jokingly groaned and pretended to not want to play any further, only to recommence their playing with vigor. A young dark haired flute player stood up slowly, pretending to want to leave, before the conductor pointed at him accusingly and made him sit down swiftly. “I’m the boss!” the conductor said, chest puffed out and with as much sass as possible. Then he turned on his heel and proceeded to descend the stairs, abandoning his orchestra. The audience laughed, and we clapped for a good ten minutes. How often can you say you heard Mozart’s music in Vienna, in an old, beautiful palace?

Metro stops
Metro stops

Later, I saw a woman in the subway on our way back to the hostel for a quick drink and sleep; she got on at the stop called Karlsplatz, reading a book of music with her thin green scarf flapping in the wind as the train rolled into the station.

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We trained six hours across Austria on Friday. I read a good chunk of my book A Town Like Alice. I listened to music and wrote a little bit in my journal. The views were so beautiful, though, it was hard to not just sit catatonically and watch the land go by. We made it to Feldkirch, a tiny Austrian town not far from the Swiss boarder. It had maybe five or six stoplights total, and our hostel sat on “main drag”, the only youth hostel in town.

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We got early dinner at an Indian restaurant the hostel owner suggested, and we turned in pretty early. We looked through a German bookstore on our walk to the train station the next morning. It had been raining the night before, so there were large grey puddles in the black top sidewalks. Kara and I took a day trip to Switzerland’s capital city, Zurich. We were exhausted at this point and were planning to take the early train to the city, but ended up taking the later one which had us rolling into Zurich around 1:30PM.

Window views
Window views

Two of the strangest things occurred while we were in the city: The first was that we encountered two Tibetan monks on the busy shopping street in the old town, decked out in their red robes and sandals, despite it being very cold. The second was experienced right before we jumped back on the train to Feldkirch: a beach volleyball match was in full swing when we walked through the train station.

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A very grey day in Zurich
A very grey day in Zurich

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Praha – the Golden city; the city of one hundred spires

I left Mandy in the city of canals and flew to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. When I landed, a couple sitting in front of me kissed as the plane’s tires hit the ground. I knew from the start that this would be an amazing experience. I took a bus and a metro train to get to the hostel, where I met my friend Kara. She and I had ten days ahead of us, backpacking in Central Europe.

View from the hill in New Town
View from the hill in New Town

The free walking tour we did the next morning was probably the best experience I had while in Praha. I got my bearings as we walked the city, and there was so much rich, fascinating history embedded in Prague (and the Czech Republic as a whole) that I would have never known if I hadn’t taken the tour. Here are the highlights: I saw damage from WWII German bombs on the astronomical clock tower building (similar to the damage on the Albert and Victoria museum in London) in the old town square. The Jewish quarter was intriguing, and the history behind it was both sad and powerful. We stopped for ten minutes at Bakeshop, a place I heard good things about before arriving in Prague. I had a cupcake, two cookies and a drink for the equivalent of six U.S. dollars. Our guide, David, informed us of the cheapness of food and drink in the city. “Beer is disgustingly cheap here; on occasion it can be cheaper than water!” We stood outside a concert hall that Mozart personally played in (which is miraculously the only concert hall, our guide informed us, that had survived time and war, that holds this bragging right).

Famed astronomical clock tower in the Old Town Square
Famed astronomical clock tower in the Old Town Square

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We learned about historical figures like Jan Husse and Franz Kaffka, and the deliciously dark humor the Czechs have. We learned about their hate of the Swedes, who came during the Renaissance and raped, pillaged and stole from them, and how that has created the joke that whenever something is lost, or you have been stolen from, the Czechs always say “The Swedes must have done it!” That is the reason, David said, that there is no Renaissance art to be found anywhere in Prague, because the Swedish took it all. One other point David told us was that the Czechs get angry when visitors call Prague “Eastern Europe.” He informed us that Vienna, Austria, (where Kara and I, ironically, were headed to next) was more eastern in physically position than Praha. Instead, he said, we must call Prague, and the Czech Republic as a whole, Central Europe. That will make the dark-humored, cranky Czechs a lot happier.

Bakeshop window view
Bakeshop window view

Later, Kara and I went to a classical music concert in the church of Saint Nicholas in the Old Town Square. We would do this again in Vienna; it was definitely a change of pace to listen to sound and rhythms without lyrics or “modern” instruments. I was able to let my mind wander, while I observed the frescos and chandelier in the old church.

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Saint Nicholas church
Saint Nicholas church

We had earlier climbed the tower at the Klementium complex, and saw the multiple famed spires the city is named for. We also stopped by the John Lennon Peace wall and took some especially tourist-y photos in front of it. We visited the city palace and cathedral, set on the hill in the New Town. We rounded a corner and discovered a flea and food market. Kara got Kielbasa, while I devoured a chicken and bell pepper kebab.

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Spires everywhere!
Spires everywhere!

Prague was absolutely wonderful, inside and out. Something about a cheap yet beautiful, authentic city, especially for a poor college student back packing around Europe, makes the experience sweeter and the memories that much more vivid. Praha was by far my favorite stop on this trip. Perhaps I’ll go back for my honeymoon some day…

View of Old Town from the tower in the Klementium complex
View of Old Town from the tower in the Klementium complex

Amsterdam – the biking, canal-ing city

I flew out of Edinburgh to get to Amsterdam. Mandy had taken two weeks off of work to travel, so the weekend before we had been in Poland together, then met up for her last few days in Amsterdam. We stayed in an Airbnb across the canal from the Anne Frank Huis. The apartment was on the top floor, so we had roof access and a balcony that we used both nights we were in Holland together.

Westerkerk, the church Anne Frank writes about in her diary during the war
Westerkerk, the church Anne Frank writes about in her diary during the war

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I (thankfully) only had the most minor of mishaps/travel difficulties/misfortunes. One of which occurred with the trams in Amsterdam. The directions to get to the apartment told me to take a particular tram outside the Centraal train station and to get off at the Anne Frank Huis stop. While I listened carefully to the automated overhead voice as each stop came and went, I failed to hear my stop, and ended up on the outskirts of Amsterdam. It felt like the “sticks” or the “boondocks” of the city; luckily I hopped off and back on the opposite-moving tram and found my stop. Turns out, the stop is announced with at least six other names/attractions at that one particular stop. It was no wonder I didn’t hear “Anne Frank,” when there were multiple other names for the stop I needed to get off at.

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If you didn’t already know, bikes are a HUGE part of Amsterdam’s culture and transportation. On my way to the train station early on Monday morning, Mandy pointed out the endless rows of bikes and bike racks beside the canal in front of the Centraal Station. We joked that if we left our bikes in the huge mass of metal and rubber, we’d never be able to find them. But then I saw a man in a suit (presumably about to go to work) yank his bicycle from the heap and head on his way. If I ever lived in Amsterdam, I’d paint my bike in neon and decorate it so I’d see it from a mile off!

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Mandy and I got separated on the street for a moment and I snapped her and some bikers
Mandy and I got separated on the street for a moment and I snapped her and some bikers

Mandy and I rented bikes for €13, which is both advisable and not. Riding about in the streets and along the canals was nerve racking, yet a major thrill. I saw the city in Technicolor, blurring by me on all sides. I saw the coffee shops, stores and canals whizz by, cutting in and out of the corner of my eyes. You really had to be careful though. It was like entering a whole new food chain. You had to watch out not to hit any of the pedestrians, but also to make sure no cars or trams ram you or run you down and ground you into the pavement. I though biking was dangerous in Washington (which it totally in almost any big city, in theory) but there are multiple other factors that go into biking around Amsterdam. I was grateful to experience all modes of transportation while in Amsterdam: I took a tram from the station to the apartment (which, admittedly I got lost on and almost exited the city entirely if I hadn’t realized and gotten off at a remote stop, switched trams and gotten back to where I needed to be) on Saturday morning, Mandy and I walked half the day and biked the second half. I felt like I understood the chaos of getting around much better once I had played the role of pedestrian, tram-rider and biker.

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Mandy and I rode through the major city center, passing the national monument and snaking our way through some of the commercial streets. That was stressful, but exhilarating. Then we veered off and stopped in a more residential area for a beer. We sat beside the canal and basked in the inviting sunshine. I felt most at peace then, just sitting on the edge of the street, looking at the delightfully lopsided, leaning apartments across the canal from us, sipping a light Dutch beer with Mandy.

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Mandy and I ate and drank our way through Amsterdam. My favorite was the waffle with strawberries and chocolate gelato. We consumed rich pasta, Chianti red wine that dyed my bottom lip, and Mandy died of joy when she found her favorite waffle biscuits (cookies) at a grocery store a block from our apartment.

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The red light district was pretty depressing. While Amsterdam can be very charming and peaceful in some areas, the more commercial, fake parts play up the fact that Amsterdam takes a large part in sex and drug tourism. Despite this, Mandy and I walked across the city to the Vincent Van Gogh museum (pronounced “go,” if you are American, “goff” if you are from the U.K. or “gock” if you are Dutch) and it shed some light on the fixation with sex.

Graffiti
Graffiti

I viewed a few Picasso paintings (one of my favorite artists, too!) in a separate section of the museum that were all geared towards the history of sex in Amsterdam. I was especially intrigued by the business cards of prostitutes and their madams, which were displayed on a glass-enclosed table. I learned just how far back sex tourism had been going on in Holland, and how women viewed it (and still do) as a career. I was able to look at the city with a more informative eye, and not simply with surprise or disgust or shock.

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Spring Break in Central Europe – “Because I was on walkabout.”

Spring break for University of Edinburgh students lasts fourteen days; that is a magical number where anything could happen. I visited six cities in that time- so here is what I am going to do now. I am going to release my experience in the form of mini-posts, like episodes. Each one will be for each place I visited while on break. This way, it won’t be one long jumbled post, but rather a few short ones. That way, if there is one city you want to read more about than another, you can pick and choose which to read. Keep up as I update with each place!

My friend Anna gave me a book for Christmas called A Town Like Alice, which I carried with me through the twelve days I moved about Europe. It is a story about World War II, an English-Scottish woman and an Aussie (Australian) man. There is a moment in the book where the two are trying to find each other after the war, and the man comes to England to look for her. He is informed that she is abroad, and he uses this expression: “She is on walkabout.” I realized, as I sat in fast-track trains, or flew over clouds in the sky, that I, too, was on walkabout. I was traveling, and couldn’t be bothered by any other obligation than to move about the world, and my only agenda was to experience as much as possible. I was on walkabout, and now I will reflect on that journey.