Amsterdam

Since it’s Turkey Day and the idea is that it should be all about gratefulness, I thought I’d do an appropriately thankful post. Without further ado, I give you Amsterdam (through thankfulness).

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In Amsterdam, I was thankful for friends. I was especially thankful for my friend Allison (who you might remember from London!), because not only did she act as my tour guide for the weekend, she also let me crash on her floor. And eat her stroopwafels. Having now successfully pulled off two European weekends together, I think it’s safe to say Allison and I make good traveling companions. My friend/former suitemate/future housemate Taylor also happened to be in Amsterdam (well, “happened to be” makes it sound like we didn’t share multiple BBM conversations about coordinating our Amsterdam trip) with some of her friends from Granada, where she’s studying for the semester. It was so incredibly wonderful to be able to spend the weekend with two of my closest friends in this incredible city!

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So. In Amsterdam, I was thankful for waffles. Waffles of all kinds. Fluffy Belgian-style extravaganzas, waffles topped with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, waffles dusted with powdered sugar, waffles dipped in melted chocolate, and of course, last but certainly not least, the famous stroopwafel, wafer-thin and full of chewy caramel. If it’s carby and sweet, chances are, I’ll love it.

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(D E C A D E N C E.)

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I was thankful that for the first time thus far in Europe, being a blonde, green-eyed giant actually helped me blend in. Everyone assumed I spoke Dutch, and that made me so happy. But it also made me feel bad when I broke the news that “stroopwafel” is the extent of my Dutch vocabulary. So, that was a bummer. But still–it was cool. In France, everyone thinks I’m Swedish, so I guess I need to go there to really find my people. And maybe learn a few words of their language first.

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I went to the Rijksmuseum, and I was thankful for whatever wonderful curators organized the place. The museum is under renovation, but what was on display was really wonderfully curated. I’m pretty into art, generally speaking, and even I often end up finding museums tiresome. But in the Rieksmuseum, they provided just enough information about the works to keep things interesting without making my visit feel like a 3-D textbook reading. I loved it. And I got to see some really cool things!

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I was thankful for the completely adorable couple that agreed to take my picture with the “t” bit of this famous sign. (Don’t worry, I returned the favor.)

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I was thankful for pancakes. Specifically this one, which was ridiculously huge and topped with bananas, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. It was heavenly–slightly thicker and doughier than a crepe, but still closer to crepe than an American pancake. I loved every bite.

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I continued to be thankful for whatever Dutch quality it is that makes good curators when I went to the Anne Frank Huis (a.k.a. house, wish I spoke Dutch). It was incredibly moving and informative and well-done. It was definitely a sobering experience, and I’m so, so glad I waited in the line stretched down the block to get to see it.

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I was thankful for the Dutch in general! Seriously, people have been pleasant and warm almost everywhere I’ve gone, but the Dutch are topping the “Friendliest Europeans” list by a mile. Everyone was so kind and helpful and smiley. I think it has something to do with the bikes (which really are everywhere and more common than cars). People just seemed healthier and fresher and happier and more generally rosy and glowing.

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I was thankful for my coat, which kept me warm on a very chilly weekend. Previously, the coldest I’d been in Europe was actually my first weekend in London (which indubitably had more to do with the fact that I was coming straight from the melting, steamy American southeast than with actual temperature). But Amsterdam marked my new freezing point, especially at night. Brr.

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I was thankful for Wok to Walk. (Which is pronounced “Vok to Valk” in Dutch, tehe.) There’s not much more to say. Except, go there.

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I was thankful to learn that I still love playing with bubbles just as much as I did when I was a kid and would play with the giant bubble toys outside of Chattanooga’s Creative Discovery Museum. Actually, I would do exactly what I did in Amsterdam a mere two weeks ago. Yes, I had to wait in line with five and six-year-olds to have a turn. Here’s to maturity and self-growth! No, but really. Here’s to the simple pleasures and their eternal ability to delight. Bubbles are perennially amusing.

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I was thankful that a computer doesn’t understand the inner workings of my mind any better than I do. Also, I’m thankful that I’m at least certain I have more of a personality than the quiz I took at the Nemo Science Museum (amazing, so cool, home of aforementioned bubbles) would indicate.

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In Amsterdam, I was thankful for coffee and canals, for beautiful Dutch architecture, for fresh mint tea paired with Dutch apple pie, for Christmas lights and the Christmas spirit, for bikes and trams and helpful people, for breathtaking art, scarves, lingering meals and long conversations, for watching the tear-jerker finale of Friends with friends, for frites dipped in mayonnaise, freshly squeezed juice, and goblin beer (whatever that is), for wandering new streets and soaking up new sights. Amsterdam easily earned five gold stars on the Tessa Crevasse Euro-rating scale. Go there! You won’t regret it.

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Also note that, as at Thanksgiving and in life, my thankfulness primarily revolved around food.

Amen.

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