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Published: October 26th 2008
It has taken a while to add concluding notes to the siblings' backpacking adventure and my final segment of traveling, but better late than never.
After the whirlwind few days in berlin (I was blown off balance by the contrast of Northern German landscape to the spanish landscape I had become accustomed to being in), I introduced Ben to his first train ride, which I had talked up, a lot. I was looking forward to the 5 hour ride, a good picnic, and a long nap as the train meandered through the countryside.
Yet everything, everything, went wrong. Except that we did make the train, but perhaps that was not a good idea in hindsight.
Unfortunately the grocery stop for picnic supplies did not happen, the train itself was old, overcrowed, and stuffy with stale air, and then, half way through the journey, the train halted for 45 mins before we were told, in german, to disboard for an undisclosed amount of hours because of an emergency - which turns out that a suffering soul chose our train to jump in front of and end their life. Then, when the tracks had been 'cleaned', we almost missed the train again
Lara, we made it to your pancake house up the stairs! Remarkably, it has maintained its authenticity in the middle of Amsterdam. Ben obviously was in total heaven
(it had been less than an hour and there was a noticeable less amount of people on the train who must have missed the quick resend off). Although shaken by the last event, I was still feeling optimistic that we would arrive in Amsterdam. Relaxing somewhat a few hours after, I go to retrieve some articles from my bag and notice that ben's enormous backpack is not there. I alarm him and contact the now Dutch train conductors. They ask me if the bag is red and orange, hmmm... I dont know, -does it have hiking boots hanging from it? yes! - oh ya, we have it, but it is at a station at the German border. what?!?! - didnt you hear the announcement an hour ago? no... - Ya, "has anyone lost a red and orange rucksack?". well orange must mean tan, so i can understand that mistake, but calling a 45 pound outdoor backpack a rucksack? i learned my lesson.
to summarize: somehow, we still dont know details, an undisclosed person mistakenly 'grabbed' this 45 pound rucksack, believing it was his, when he departed the train. it ended up in lost and found, than slapped onto another train,
Dutchstyle. Cheese & Banana?!?! let's just put some honey on top please
NOT bound for the city, so we had to train hop around, wait hours in a little town where we decided to eat our first dutch meal at a chinese restaurant (picture me making all my food requests in english and broken german/spanish to a chinese woman speaking in irritated dutch) , then we hopped on another train , where we were greeted by the rucksack! finally, 13 hours later, we arrived in amsterdam. then the night began....
Our love for being in nature and camping was disrupted by the harsh realities of a loud, touristy party city, the las vegas of europe. feeling remorse for the countryside, we enjoyed a few highlights of the city and then quickly escaped to lush green fields. We saw lots of art, spent time with two of my highschool friends studying in holland, and climbed up steep, steep stairs to this little 3 table room cafe and ate marvelous pancakes prepared by the owner.
Seeking authenticity and beauty, we randomly picked a train and found ourselves in alkmaar, a cheese town an hour from the city. we set up camp in the rain and enjoyed the open freedom of countryside and
A lil sunshine
Rainy afternoon in Alkmaar town exploration
fresh air. The next day we went on a 50 km bike ride through towns, dunes, beach, countryside, fields, and canals. the country is flat and completely connected with bike trails and the most readable signs and directions. it felt like we floated on a cloud through a dreamy, timeless day, which was also the last day of our adventures.
The trip taught me to push myself, embrace my love of the outdoors, to look beyond the city, to ask questions and talk with strangers, to relax and go with the flow, that plans will always change, that locals will be interested in you, if you open up a conversation, be yourself, and show them that there is a difference in types of americans, that the world is huge, but have pride in your place, know your roots and culture, that to maintain the character of a place, it is important to be local, I met people that had never left their mountain village, others that had been everywhere, and yet had returned to their mountain village. Many times I felt like I was living a surreal life, and the sense of having no references helped me to let
happy dutch cows graze in lush green background....
go of feeling structured and having to mold and over-critique how I am. There were many ups and downs, feelings of both exuberance and failure, but ultimately, the trip intensified my appetite to travel and gave me a deep appreciation for where I am from .
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