Miles: Oslo to Amsterdam plus

April 18, 2011

I’m a slacker! I don’t know how it happened…Oh wait, that’s right, I had a Norwegian exam and I am busy traveling and existing in Norway as much as possible.

First, the boring part: The test went well. I think I got an A. We’ll find out in a few uker. My sweet and amazing professor came up to me during the test and (totally illegally) reminded me about a particular Norwegian sentence structure that I always have trouble with. It was adorable and nice to see how much she really cared about my Norwegian success.

Now that Norskkurs is over, I barely have any actual class-time left. I have a few exam papers coming up, but really, I’ve sort of entered my vacation in Norway time. I’m doing a lot of traveling in the next month, and I’m pretty excited about all of it.

Which, of course, brings us to Amsterdam.

That city is amazing and I love it. I did not love the Red Light District. I thought the novelty of it wore off pretty quickly, and I have a whole bunch of thoughts on the prostitution industry, but I am glad I saw the Red Light District. The part of the city that I absolutely adored was the south and southwest parts of Amsterdam. It was canals and bicycles and flowers and people who seemed like they immensely enjoyed living where they live.  I could totally move there. I could learn Dutch, eat Stroopwaffels (amazing thin cookie-like waffels with caramel between them), and bike everywhere.

I also really enjoyed having the opportunity to travel alone. This was the first time I’d ever done that, and while it felt a little lonely at times, I am beyond glad that I did it. I think I learned a lot about how I act/think/feel in different situations, and I learned how to spend time with myself, that I can and do enjoy spending time with myself. I also learned the value of starting a conversation with a stranger.

Thursday night was finding my hostel, exploring the city, and walking through the Red Light District.

Friday was TULIP DAY! I am totally my Father’s son. I can’t really help it. I get geeked out about fields of flowers. Friday morning, I boarded a bus with a bunch of people at least 10 years older than me and drove an hour west of Amsterdam to Lisse and into the Keukenhof Gardens. This place is famous for their tulips. The gardens were extremely well taken care of, and it was sort of like a display case of artfully-arranged flowers. I walked around for a while, laughed at the people straining to take the perfect photo, (spent a little time taking pictures myself), and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

To contrast the condensed, amusement-park-like atmosphere of Keukenhof, I rented a BRIGHT ORANGE bicycle outside of the gardens and spent a few hours biking around Holland. I rode through beautiful fields, sand dunes, and all the way to the sea. It felt so nice to get back onto a bicycle, and I’m glad that I can say I started this bike season off with a long ride through a beautiful country.

Also, for dinner I had a pancake and a beer. Best thing ever.

Saturday was another explore Amsterdam day. I went to the Van Gogh museum and proceeded to geek out about art for a couple hours. (Seriously though, the traveling exhibit was Picasso. Van Gogh and Picasso at the same museum??? Win.) I spend most of the rest of the day outside enjoying the t-shirt weather. I even got a little sunburned sitting out at Vondel Park. (Totally worth it.)

Things I have learned:

WHEN THE SKIERS GO INSIDE, THE RUNNERS APPEAR. Now that Oslo has thawed, everyone is out running. It’s beautiful (see: extremely hilly) to run near my student village, so I’ve been taking advantage of the spring weather as well. I said good-bye to me skis yesterday. There were no tears, but it was definitely rough. The running shoes and I have some good Norwegian times ahead of us.

I NOW SEE PLASTIC BOTTLES IN TERMS OF THEIR RETURN VALUE. I don’t see size. I see kroner. In Norway, you can return plastic pop bottles and aluminum cans to grocery stores and get a little money back. Whenever I want to describe the size of a bottle, the first thing I think is “you know, a 1 krone bottle” or “One of those huge 2.5 kroner bottles”. Oh, Oslo.

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