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Published: November 21st 2018
I woke up fairly early on my last day in Amsterdam. I hoped to get a small breakfast from the hotel restaurant but it was either all you can eat for 25 euros or nada. Instead, I went out for a little walk along the canals and cute streets, looking for a nice little shop to get a little food. It was a nice stroll, and I enjoyed seeing the buildings that had settled, tilted or cracked significantly. It was something we had all discussed a bit, curious as to why we didn't see many. But I think if you looked closely, you could. It is still amazing as many of these buildings are very old, built on timber piles that penetrate only into the first sand layer. I also enjoyed seeing the city workers cleaning up the city streets after what I assumed to be a typical crazy night; reminds me of Bourbon Street after a night of partying.
I did eventually find a little coffee shop, just near my hotel. An actual coffee shop, people. I got a cafe latte and a ham and cheese croissant. Then I went back to my room, enjoyed the fancy shower again,
and slowly packed my things. I had to catch a noon train; before I did I got a slice of pizza - thankfully, because I didn't eat again until after 8 pm. I took the train to Leiden where I was supposed to switch trains to a smaller station near our head office. Unfortunately, I got on a direct train to The Hague. I was able to chat with my friend thanks to the free wifi on the train, and she said, no problem as she made plans for me to tour the other office first, which was closer to The Hague. So, I wound up waiting about 15 minutes while she re-routed from the original station and I was nervous standing at the point she told me too - there was nowhere for her to really park, but she made it work. I haven't seen Eva in almost 15 years, when she worked as an intern in our Ventura office, but I recognized her in her tiny silver car immediately.
So our company started in the Netherlands more than 50 years ago and is now worldwide with offices in over 50 countries and more than 8,000 employees. I
was looking forward to seeing the mothership, but first she took me to one of our newest offices, which is actually going to probably become the main office. Nootdorp won an award for green building and it looks so nice. It is generally an open concept for many of the engineers, but is very well laid out. I was given a tour by one of the operations managers, who showed me many of our new toys, our service department, the background of building the office, the amazing cafeteria and some of the offices. Of course, I could not take photos, but it was very impressive. Afterwards, I met with the former Dubai Ops manager, who recently moved to this office. He and I chatted for about half an hour about a couple of projects and upcoming innovations, some pertaining to my training course.
Next we went to the main Leischendam office, which is in a more residential neighborhood. Eva showed me the lab and I spoke with the consulting manager for a while. Saw her office, said another hi to Leon and his team. Then we went to Eva's apartment, located just a few minutes away (she says it
is about 20-30 minute walk). She has the penthouse, with windows on all sides and great views of the area. I spoke with her and her partner, who also worked in Dubai previously.
Then she and I took the tram to the city so she could show me around The Hague. I guess on Friday nights, everything closes early. She says Thursday, most stores stay open later, and that's when people do their shopping. So, while the stores looked great and I still had not satisfied my shopping itch, we moved on. It got dark quickly, but I was able to see the Parliament and where the president lived. Then I saw the royal palace. The streets were so lovely (and clean! - Amsterdam...), it almost seemed fake. Like a movie set. I told her I could just imagine this place in the winter with snow; she said it didn't really snow that much there. Just rain. Well, it was lovely in my head anyway. We got dinner at a large restaurant nearby; at 9pm, this place was still hopping with food. I got a pasta I think.
Then we walked a little more and came upon a
nice little shop where we got oliebollen, a traditional dutch food which really reminded me of beignets. They are balls of fried dough, covered with powdered sugar. The line was long but moved fast. They had different varieties, such as some containing raisins, and other types of food to serve. It was delicious and warmed me up. After this, she took me down a dark alley to a local bar. Very nice! it was cute and we got a beer while we caught up on the last 15 years.
Then we went back to her apartment, via the train/tram/bus station, where I pretty much passed out immediately. The next morning, we had breakfast of strawberries and some kind of Indian wrap with chutney and other spices. Then Eva took me to the airport - so nice! She said she remembered that I did a lot for her when she was in California and was happy to return the favor. We hugged and I made my way to check in. Check in itself was easy, but security line was very long. Finally I got through, and finished my souvenir shopping, got some McD's and headed to my seating area. Flight
back was pretty smooth and I managed a little sleep, but I didn't get home until about 1:30am and had work in the morning. All in all - great trip of business and pleasure!
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