Amsterdam with Anne...reunited!

Trip Start Jan 03, 2010
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I left Deventer early Sunday morning.  I was able to give Noor, the birthday girl, a hug and watch her open a few gifts before we headed to the station.  Aike, as always, was such a sweetheart.  She was with me until my train pulled away...another goodbye, waving from the window of a train...great memories of another wonderful place...
I had to change trains once before arriving Amsterdam and was able to meet Anne...a sweet Dutch girl!  We had met in Laos...on a boat.  It was a very long boat and boat-ride for that matter.  She walked by numerous times and eventually we talked a bit...later to meet in the town one evening at a market...and eventually sharing a room to make our money go a little further!  She was great from the start.
We needed to find the apartment Aike had arranged for me to stay at for the night in Amsterdam...of course this is always becomes a task.  It was a rainy day in Amsterdam.  A cloudy day...but a great day.  We hopped on the bus and headed in the correct direction to our destination.  The problem is we forgot to get off.  Whether it was due to chatting or not paying attention, we were at the end of the route with no one on the bus but us...we missed our stop.  No problem though.  The bus driver got off...to do something for 15 minutes and locked us in...shut the doors...whatever you would call it.  I don't think we could get out but it didn't matter...it was raining pouring rain outside.
Eventually we made it to the correct stop and got off with Blue in search for the apartment.  Well we walked, and walked.  Down a few streets, across the bridge, down a few sidewalks...  The rain continued.  We found an awning (spelling?) to take shelter for a few minutes and make a phone call to the woman I was to stay with.  Wrong number.  We tried again.  Still wrong number.  I had to bother Aike and Peter during their daughters birthday party for help...of course right.  In the meantime, a man walked by offering his assistance.  "I've lived her a hundred years" he said.  Clearly he was not 100 years old.  "I know this town inside and out.  What's the address?"
I didn't have an address.  I didn't have an address.  Just directions with an apartment number.  He insisted on helping.  I showed him the directions which were written down and within a few minutes we had it figured out.  "Where are you from?" he asked.  "Wisconsin" I obviously said...although I debated having fun with the question.  "Ahhh, the dairy state...I've been there!"
Wow.  Can't say I've met many who even know where Wisconsin is on the map, more or less have been there.  He invited us to his show the following night...apparently he's a comedian.  I think I'm funnier than him...  No.  Really though, I had to decline...I was in and out of Amsterdam in a day and a half with no time for Comedian shows...although I was in the mood for a full-on belly laugh at that point...I was wet...again.
Anne and I found the apartment.  What a relief.  We were greeted by a wonderful young woman who was a friend of my friend Aike's sister.  She was so kind to have me stay with her on a last minute notice.  The three of us enjoyed a cup of coffee, tea for them... and with a map of the city and a set of keys, we headed out for the day.
It was recommended that we make a stop at the best place for apple pie in Amsterdam.  We did.  We sure did.  I remembered another friend telling me about some 'pie place' that was a must go when in Amsterdam.  It was incredible....the first bite, the second bike, a sip of hot cappacino to intensify it all...another bite, a small groan from me indicating goodness...whip cream, another bite...eventually a small groan now indicating my saddness this apple pie had disappeared from my plate. 
The Anne Frank Museum was another attraction I was interested in.  And for many others; the line was out the door and around the corner.  We waited...and waited.  It was well worth it.  A surreal experience to be in the place Anne was...to climb the stairs they once climbed, to see the bedroom she once slept in...the photographs and magazine clippings she pasted on her bedroom wall...the kitchen sink they used...and of course the writings, the journals, the handwritten documentation of their life in hiding...it was amazing.
A stroll through the streets to reach the city center was next.  What a beautiful city.  I understand why Amsterdam is "Amsterdam."  Another sought after city.  It resembled Venice with the many canals running throughout the city, but with a very differnt feel.  A mellow city, a liberal city, a bicyclists paradise, coffee shops around every corner...  I smelled the pot as we walked along beside coffee shops and groups of people; my first reaction of course was someone better hope the police arn't nearby.  And then I remembered.
I was almost run over several times, if not ten, from bikers.  They have lanes for bikes running throughout the whole city.  Special mini 'stop and go lights' for them...I've never seen so many bikes in my life.  What I loved is seeing the variety of bikes.  People weren't concerned with having a 'cool' bike...all types.  Old bikes, new, banana seats, baskets on the front, the back...any color, rusty, shiny...no one seemed to care.  People rode by confidently, quickly and with ease.  I loved it.
We made it to Annes brothers place in the evening where we had a wonderful meal.  He made an indian dish for us...so good.  Lots of travel discussions as he's been to many places...South Africa in particular...my next destination...in 5 hours I depart.
We looked at pictures of his safari which were wonderful and other places he visited while in Africa.  I had more than a few questions for him.  It was another great day with friends...and food!
The afternoon I departed for my bus back to Frankfurt, I spent the morning at a really great cafe near where I was staying.  It was raining, again, and with my early morning decision to skip the flee market I intended on visiting, I optioned for a warm drink and breakfast.  There was a big, wet dog seated a few feet away from me on the bench seat I was on.  What a sweet doggie.  I stared at him.  He stared at me.  He eventually came over to me and wanted a pet.  I loved it.  The freedom to bring your big, wet dog into a nice cafe and have him sit right next to you...  I gave him a treat.  No.  But I wanted to.
I arrived Frankfurt where I would have two nights to get ready before my departure to Africa.  I was so fortunate to be able to stay with Manfred and Maria, my grandparents friends from years ago.  Another wonderful couple who took me into their beautiful home and treated me like family.  I am blessed.  I am very blessed.  I think about it so often... 
I am heading to Africa.  A long-waited, talked about destination...the time has come.  In a few hours I will be on a plane to Dubai,  with a wonderful layover at 1130 pm for four hours, and then to Cape Town for close to a 10 hour flight.  I will be picked up by Christine, a woman from the orphanage where I will volunteer at for one month.  I am excited.  I am looking forward to being part of something I'm very interested in...  I am not sure the access to internet I will have which will of course dictate my ability to write.  I will be in touch with the next lag of my journey...I hope everyone reading is doing well..."Cheers!"
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Comments

Noel on

I also loved the bikers in Amsterdam. They're everywhere. And they have no qualms about putting multiple people on a bike, if possible. Just watch out for the ones talking on their cell phones!

BTW, you should go to Vondelpark if you get a chance. It's beautiful. Also, the Van Gogh Museum is nice...

Hope you're doing well-

Noel

ctrayford
ctrayford on

Ahhh my dear friend...you certainly inspire me to do 'bigger and better things'. You're a perfect example of how if you trust God, and put your full faith in Him, He will always provide. God speed as you make your way to Ah-free-kah! it's seems like 1997 wasn't so long ago as our family made our way there for 4 weeks of an unforgettable experience... <>

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