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Holland is for Bikes

Monday, December 16, 2013

 

Hello all,

 

As most of my friends' semesters are beginning to wind down, I am still very much in mine. However, I was fortunate enough to find a cheap ticket to Holland for last weekend and Max and I jumped on flights to meet up in the worlds only country with two names. 

 

Over the summer we became friends with a Dutch guy named Anne Roorda at a hostel in Slovakia, and he was kind enough to let us stay with him over the weekend.

 

The adventures started right away, when I flew into Eindhoven on Thursday afternoon, and had to catch a train up to Utrecht, a Dutch college town, where Anne is studying and living.

 

Max, Anne, and I (and yes, I  know, I have let the beard get out of control).
In case you were curious, this is the general direction I want the beard to go in.  Everything about this picture seems good to me.

The flight in was a bit bumpy, and I learned later that we flew into Holland's worst storm thus far this year, and I was greeted by slanting rain and winds. But I found Anne easily enough at the Burger King in the train station.

 

Now here is where things got tricky. Because Holland is a bike lovers paradise, and most people commute by bike, even in the middle of the year's worst storm, Anne was on his bike, but he didn't have one for me. Not a problem, I could just jump on a bus and he could meet me at the stop near his house. Unfortunately, due to the storm, there were some road closures, but since I can't understand Dutch, the announcement that the driver made about the change of route was lost on me.

 

So, I got off at the second stop (normally Anne's stop), and found myself standing out in the cold waiting for him for an uncomfortably long time. So, I went hunting for wifi (since that is the only way we could communicate), to get in touch with Anne. Long story short, an hour and a half later we reunited and managed to make our way to his house. Max showed up a little later that night.

 

So began a weekend in the Netherlands. Max and I awoke the next day and caught a train into Amsterdam for the day. Anne could not join us as he had to work on some schoolwork, but we had a lovely day nonetheless.

 

The streets of Amsterdam

We mostly wandered the city, and tried to get a feel for it all. We walked past the Anne Frank house, but elected not to go inside, and I even saw a group of hookers from the famed Red Light District commuting home after their shifts on bikes. It was a sight for sore eyes. In fact, pretty much the whole city was based on bike commuting. Every road had both a sidewalk and bike lane given to it. And I don't mean a little section of the should given to cyclists, I mean an entirely separate pathway dedicated entirely to bikes. It was quite a sight. Although Amsterdam does have the famed canals, the reality is that most big cities in Holland have canals of their own that are essentially the same to Amsterdam's.

 

One of the many famous Amsterdam canals
This is a scooter that was blown off the sidewalk into the canal. I'm telling you this storm was bad.

Mostly though, our day in Amsterdam was spent inside at the Van Gogh Museum. As you might expect, it was just a huge museum (4 stories high) that was full of Vincent Van Gogh paintings and nothing else. Despite some of his personal issues (remember this is the one who cut off his own ear) he was clearly a very talented artist. He was obsessed with color, and pretty much all of his pictures are bright and feature the full rainbow. Taking pictures of one of the world's greatest painters on an iPhone is a little wrong, but I did it anyway.

 

A self portrait

 

His signature, which I really liked.

 

And his famous wildflowers. With the exception of the green stems and one red flower, the entire painting is using different shades of yellow. He wanted to show that even in using a single color, you could create contrast. Pretty cool.

That night we caught the train back to Utrecht and spent the evening staying warm and hanging out with Anne. The next day was spent exploring Utrecht, which is really a lovely city in it's own right. We visited a huge Christmas market, which really had nothing to do with Christmas. It sold pretty much anything you could ever want for any occasion, including some hardware supplies. But Anne had us try the raw herring, which was actually quite good, as well as horse sausage, also good. That evening we drove to Zwolle, a town roughly the size of Boulder, to stay the night at Anne's parents house.

 

The typical Dutch breakfast it literally buttered toast, with chocolate sprinkles. Candy Cooper woulda been doing backflips.
One of the fish stands we encountered at the Utrecht market 
We even found time in the evening to stream the Buffs play #6 Kansas. They beat them for the first time in nearly 20 years, and it was one of the most homesick moments I have had so far. All I wanted to do was be with my fam in the Coors Events Center. Go Buffs!

We spent our day in Zwolle on bikes, and that made me one happy boy. We saw the city and surrounding areas, and past through some cool spots.

 

Max and Anne on the bikes

 

 

A couple of the very cool fortress looking things that we passed.

But the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the sunset. As the sun was setting we crossed a bridge going directly towards the golden pink skyline. It was surreal.

 

The picture really doesn't do it justice. Riding my bike into the sunset in Holland, there have been few moments where I was as certain that Dad was with me.

The next day we packed up and flew home. It was a quick trip in Holland, but I had a wonderful time with Max, and becoming closer friends with Anne. I owe him a huge thank you for his (and his parents') enormous hospitality. I have now been hosted by 3 different people in Europe, and each one has been spectacular in it's own way.

 

From bike heaven on Earth,

Griff

 

Griffin
Marketing • Boulder, CO

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