This weekend was just so wonderful. I had a [much needed] visit with some family members and I now feel completely rejuvenated. My aunts (Jennifer and Ruthie) were in Amsterdam for a conference from Wednesday until Sunday. The three of us were quite busy during the week, so we ended up getting together on Saturday (all day) and Sunday morning before they left for the airport. My cousin, Ellie (the one studying in Switzerland) managed to get a flight here this weekend too! She got in on Friday night and left Sunday night (today). I went to the airport to “pick her up,” or rather show her which train/tram she needed to take to reach my apartment. Her flight was delayed about an hour and a half so I occupied my time with a €5,50 euro coffee from Starbucks. This city is eating me alive. That’s about $7.40 US.
Once I found Ellie, we ended up arriving back to my apartment around 11:30 at night, so having an evening filled with activity was a little unrealistic (especially since we had plans to meet the Aunties at 10AM). In the morning, we took a tram to Centraal Station where we found Jen and Ruthie. From there, we walked down to the Jordaan with intent of seeing the Anne Frank House. The line was extraordinarily long, but we decided it would be worth the wait in the end. Of course, we were right. I didn’t even realize we were waiting in line. There was so much catching up and discussion going on that I didn’t even bother to worry about my surroundings. The Anne Frank House is definitely something to see. It absolutely blew my mind that the real, original diary of Anne Frank exists in the city where I am currently residing. This is the same diary that gave true insights into the Holocaust during the early 1940s and is taught in every 7th grade classroom around the globe.
After the museum, we grabbed some lunch in the Jordaan at this very quaint little restaurant. During this little walking excursion in the Jordaan, we experienced sunny blue skies, pouring rain, and hail all in the matter of minutes. Thankfully, Ellie and I brought umbrellas which came in handy throughout the sporadic downpours of the day. Amsterdam weather is ridiculous.
Along with the umbrellas, our array of Amsterdam maps came in handy after every 3 blocks. The streets here will curve ever-so-slightly and completely throw off your sense of direction. After attempting to find the Rijksmuseum, a Dutch man told us we had gone in the complete opposite direction and we had gone too far to even walk back to it. We nixed that idea and decided to walk to Dam square instead and pop in and out of shops along the way.
For dinner, we had the most incredible Indonesian food I’ve ever had. We went to a place called Kantjil & de Tijger right near the Dam. I absolutely loved everything I tried. In fact, while writing this post I am eating the leftover Indonesian style salad with peanut sauce that none of us could manage to finish last night. Though the server was quite slap-dash and appeared to be a big ball of stress, the atmosphere of the restaurant was quite nice. It seemed like a popular place to be on a Saturday night. I was left feeling 100% content after that meal.
To end the night, we took a stroll through the ever-so-popular Red Light District. Just another tourist trap the city of Amsterdam has to offer. Ellie had never been to Amsterdam before. Thus, had never seen the Red Light. Though this area is very packed on a Saturday night, it is definitely something you need to see once in your life.
Sunday morning came all too quickly. Ellie and I woke up bright and early to meet with Jenny and Ruthie for breakfast before they departed. After some coffee and bagels, it was time to part ways. Though it was a very brief visit, I am very glad we were able to visit at all. It is amazing to me that a small chunk of my family managed to all meet in up in Europe at the same time. The warmth that came from that short little visit is just enough to get me through these next 3 months while I’m missing home. I also discovered many parts of the city I never knew existed this weekend and my sense of direction is much stronger thanks to trial and error.
Though the mood of the weekend was a bit more melancholy after J & R left, Ellie and I proceeded with our Amsterdam adventures. On Friday, we were looking up “free things to do in Amsterdam” on the Internet when one very specific idea caught Ellie’s eye. Apparently right next to Vondelpark there is a stable. That’s right. For HORSES. Now, anyone who knows my cousin Ellie can understand that this is a big deal. She has been riding horses for most of her life and has developed quite an obsession. In leaving the States to study in Switzerland, she also had to leave behind her horse and hasn’t seen one since.
Of course, we didn’t find the place immediately. It was only until we smelled the horses that we were able to find the building in which they were kept. The place was quite remarkable. I don’t know much horse lingo so I doubt I’ll be very successful in my description of the barn. Ellie’s description would be much different than mine, as her focus was the horses and mine was the coffee! Yes, there was a little cafe at the top of the barn with a balcony overlooking the [place where people ride]. Ellie can fill in the blanks for me. I barely felt like I was in the middle of a city. It’s so wonderful how one very condensed place can offer so much variety. Ellie seemed quite happy to have fulfilled her longing for bridles, manes, canters, and trots.
It was a very bittersweet afternoon. I was happy to have had such a wonderful weekend, but sad to see everyone go. Fortunately, I will be seeing Ellie in Switzerland only two weeks from now. We will continue our adventures then! As for Jenny and Ruthie, the Leaning Christmas weekend keeps calling my name, where I look forward to the hysterical charade games and long winter walks to the horse paddocks.