caffeine and clogs
I like to ride my bicycle...
Arriving into Amsterdam in the middle of gay pride was certainly an eye opener, a vibrant mix of music, clothing and people, with flamboyancy at its heart. Time to embrace the party atmosphere and feel good vibe, with people singing and dancing in the streets, I had certainly picked a good weekend. Although seeing a man walking down the street wearing nothing, but a pink feather boa was maybe a tad too far…!
Being in Amsterdam I had to try my hand at cycling, Dutch style. I had never been on a Dutch bike, always being used to having breaks on the handle bars. Well they do say it’s good to try something new, maybe not in a crowded city full of people, traffic and canals but hey ho! Learning rather fast how to use a back-pedal braking bike I successfully managed to navigate the streets of Amsterdam, not falling off and with only two near misses. Not bad for a first attempt.
With a large selection of very varied museums I decided on the Rijeks museum, learning about Dutch history and seeing Rembrandts, the Night Watchman painting. An educational museum that left me rather overwhelmed from all the information, my next move was to find the nearest park and sit in it for a while. People watching is a favourite past time.
Leaving the city and its feather boa wearing inhabitants behind, I headed to the countryside trading trams for tractors.
Being English we know how to drink a lot of tea but being in the Netherlands I swapped the tea for coffee and well drank copious amounts of it. I think I have now returned home with a caffeine addiction and a secret love for Stoopwaffels (amazing caramel Dutch treats). Whoops.
The museum de Fundantie in Zwolle was a hive of visual arts from the calming Japanese paintings by Jasper Krabbe, to the metal sculptures by Ronald A. Westerhuis, that even though were simple in appearance had me looking far longer than just a momentarily glance. My imagination taking in the smooth, polished surfaces, enjoying the concepts of space and structure. Even the building itself is a mixture of old and contemporary, with the neo classical building supporting a modern, cloud like structure on its roof. To me it looked like a giant pebble had been placed upon the building, delicately sitting there to challenge the eye.
Being in the country of many canals, I went canoeing, it was good fun, I even managed to get stuck on a branch that had fallen into the water. I’m just thankful that I didn’t fall out of the canoe as I think that would have been one embarrassment too far. Especially when the water wasn’t exactly crystal clear. Another trip into nature was to Lemelerberg, a small hill that provided views over the countryside, an unusual change for a country that’s renowned for being flat. The smell of pine trees and stillness had me from the start and whilst I was busy enjoying the views and nature, I lost all sense of direction. It’s a good job I wasn’t alone.
A night out with the Dutch, did someone say Heineken? Going to Donderdag Meppel Dag I soon saw what the fuss was about, the streets were packed with people and a stage in the centre provided music with a remix. Time to dance. The beer flowed, our bodies danced, and the hours blurred together. When the music stopped outside it was; ‘to the pub’ and I seemed to forget that I was in the Netherlands, dancing the night away amongst friends, I felt right at home. Although I’ve never seen the guys in England wearing a pair of clogs, that’s definitely just a Dutch thing!
One motorbike, a spare suit and a willing driver meant only one thing, time to explore the Dutch countryside by bike. Hold on. Having never even sat on a motor bike before, I was a little apprehensive to say the least, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with it. Sat on the back with the world whizzing by, gave me a sense of freedom, it was exhilarating. The only downside was fitting into the leather pants but that’s another story.
Stars, satellites and constellations provided a fascinating nights sky for my last evening in the Netherlands, one that had me gazing up, dreaming. However, they do say the best is saved until last and it came in the form of Perseids meteor shower. Shooting stars filled the sky in natures very own firework display, nothing like ending on a high.