mad hatters

… on Kings day in Amsterdam.

So I was told that the place to be for Kings day in the Netherlands is Amsterdam. In some ways I do agree, but if getting high is not your thing. Oh boy, then the experience can be rather sensory overloading. It’s a pity though, because some dj’s on the passing boats had really good mixes going. But if in a radius of a 100m you have maybe four or five sources of rhythm. Well then my dj brain goes… red flag alert… eject!! …Mayday Mayday!! We have a Kakkefoni! (this is a word in Afrikaans/ Dutch to describe many sounds creating an overdose of noise). What I did enjoy was spending the last few hours of the 24 hour crazy city party sitting on pot corner with my dormies. (This was named this because there was a tree. A canal. Rows of timber benches. Rows of people rolling very special zollies. And many passers-by in orange apparel.)

While the rest of Amsterdam recovered from their Kings day hangover the next day, I hooked up with a dutch gentleman at the local tennis court to play on gravel (as it is known in the Netherlands) or red European clay as I call it. We had an amazing hour and a half of tennis. For someone who is use to hard court tennis, the rather peculiar rhythm on clay was something to get use to. Unlike the clay in the States (where I’ve played on clay before), the European clay is so soft, which make it much harder to slide and the dry patches are even more slippery. But all in all a lovely experience. Thank you tennis buddy.

Just to further enrich my experience in this city I rented a scooter for 24 hours. Back home I have a Vespa that can easily reach a 100km/h but in the Netherlands you can actually drive without a helmet or a licence if you keep to 30km/h. That is so slow, it feels like the bicycles go faster than you on the scooter. Luckily I had a gentle introduction the first few days in the countryside on how to use the different lanes. Which made adapting to the city traffic pretty easy and on a brom-ponie you do whatever the bicycles do by sticking to the same lane etc. Accept! the bicycles can actually drive through the Rijks Museum which the scooters can not do and also, halfway through the Amsterdam Bos I realised I was actually not allowed on the fietsen paths there either. Such a lovely forest. Stunning. Apologies to all the older ladies that gave me the hairy eyeball. Ha!! Talking of which. Goodness but there are loads of bicycles in this city. Bundles of them gets stacked everywhere but also along the canals, and unfortunately sometimes they also get tossed into the canals. Apparently they then get fished out from the canals, cleaned out and resold to be re-cycled.

Which brings me to my next little trip on the scooter. Can I just first say. Thank you to the amazing design freedom that the dutch embrace in their architecture. It was so cold on the back of the scooter but it was more than worth it to kind of get lost on my way to the IJBurg bridge. If you think Grimshaw did well by designing the bridge well then wait till you see the little ‘island’ of IJBurg. The architecture was so beautiful. Lovely eclectic arrangement of different styles, elements and principles. Definitely on my wish list to own a property on this little ‘island’. Well in general I enjoy the boldness in the dutch architecture and design.

On the topic of architecture. One could not help but notice two things when looking at the staggered skinny houses over the canals. Besides the rather odd-looking hook and arm sticking out from the top, most of these houses are tilting forward. Which accourding to research has a real function. These skinny houses have very narrow and skinny staircases. While living on the canals the top floors are the safest against any possible flooding and when they wanted to move furniture or big items it was almost impossible to find enough room to move. Hence the hook, so they hoist the items up and in order for the item not to hit the facade they tilt it forward. Clever hey?

Now this post will be incomplete without the mentioning of visiting the Corrie ten Boom House in Haarlem. This story always has the ability to touch my heart in such a special way but to actually stand in that little space the Jewish folk were hidden in and how it felt to crawl through the opening in the cupboard. It makes things much more real. An experience like this must have the ability to change your dna forever. One can not always understand the complete bigger picture. But I want to believe that our Abba is also involved in the details of our lives. Even to give someone like Corrie so much guts. This experience has been a highlight. If I just think of how many things had to work out for me to be their for the 11:30 english tour and I literally arrived their 1 min before it started as number 21 and 22. They only take 20 people on any one time. But the lady allowed me and my dormie in. Then I can just believe…

So the last few days have been filled with many highs and some lows. It is with great sadness in my heart that I write this. Received word day before yesterday that my dear grandma lost her husband of the last eight odd years. He was such a big traveler himself. Can not help but think of how many steps he gave in the Netherlands alone. On the positive side, he fell sick while returning from a twenty odd days boat cruise to Venice and unfortunately couldn’t recover. He did what he loved when he fell ill. Rest in peace oom Edgar. Your travel stories will be missed. To my dear gran: may your Abba comfort you in this time of loss. Big hug.

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