It took me 4 hours of being awake to realize that I was leaving for Amsterdam that same day. Our short hours in Amsterdam began with an eleven hour coach ride that Friday night and dumped us off in the city center at 9am Saturday. Our guide was less than enthusiastic about the amount of sights to see, which was rather disappointing, but we headed to ‘The Pasta Bar’ (don’t judge them) for Dutch Apple Cake and Cappuccinos. We explored Central Station for a bit, sampled cheese and drooled over chocolate in the rain, queued at Anne Frank’s house for longer than I remember it being and got inside. The museum took us throughout each room, had short videos and little artifacts including pieces of her original diaries. It was quite wonderful and I’m pleased we made it a part of our journey. There is no photography inside, so go see it for yourself (easy enough, right?). The rain had stopped and we wandered the canals for a quick sandwich and the flower market. Being accustomed to Pike’s Market in Seattle, I was expecting flowers. Not bulbs and wooden tulips. We sampled a few wheels of cheese (we ate wheels, I promise). Pesto cheese, goat cheese, chili cheese, olive cheese, chocolate cheese, cheesy cheese, fig jam, cranberry mustard and licorice. Oh and Hollandze Stroodwafle… syrup waffles! Think chewy graham crackers. We walked back, accidentally trekking through the Red Light District. I was a bit uncomfortable. You probably won’t find me there again. I don’t think I have to confirm your visions and notions because they are all correct. We caught a tram to our four-star hotel. This tour group puts us up well! I went to sleep early and woke up with the mindset that I could beat the buffet. My Argentinian roommate looked at my stack of plates questioningly as she nibbled on one piece of toast and a clementine. I created a little cheese and pastrami roll sammie, wrapped it in a napkin and shoved it in my purse. This is a trick I’ve learned from Merry (Grandma Gerber). Each and every morning at breakfast in Italy, she’d create ham and cheese croissant sammies that we’d then enjoy for lunch. I learn from the best.
We were escorted to the Windmill Farm! Uhh… one windmill on the side of the road that was a power source turned office? Never mind that, we were going to see how cheese was made down the street. Or upon arrival, he’d just explain the process of adding unpasteurized milk, cow stomach juices and the secret family recipe of enzymes and bacteria that you’d have to marry him to know about. He did demonstrate the machine that sands and drills poplar trees into the traditional clogs. How nice of him. The clogs are beneficial for many reasons, but not enough for me to wear them anywhere, but in the gift shop. I did purchase a little pair the size of my pinky nail for a souvenir. And I bought a wheel of natural cheese for my mum! It’ll be here aging for you.
We spent the afternoon in Bruges, Belgium. Home of Godiva! I spent my time walking through the town center, tasting their fries with samurai sauce (spicy mayo) and the notorious Belgium waffle drizzled with chocolate. I was a bit disappointed because the gentleman told me the samurai sauce was very, very hot. It wasn’t at all. So far, heat doesn’t exist here. I just want to eat jalapeños and green chiles and serranos straight from the vine–seeds and all. The two hours went quickly, but I so enjoyed the streets, chocolatiers, the weather, and the architecture.
We took the chunnel from England to France on the initial journey, but due to the crossing being near 3am, I slept through most only to know that we drove our coach onto some tram car where doors came down all around us and I thought of the Hunger Games as I fell back asleep. It looked like we were inside a shipping container. Definitely better the second time around when I was conscious. And now I’m home and dreading uni tomorrow.