King's Day...Surprise!

April 29, 2017

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On Tuesday my friend Maaike who is from Amsterdam mentioned that she was going home on Wednesday for King's Day (think...umm, maybe Independence Day in the States?). She was going to be traveling with another one of our exchange friends and invited me along. At first I said no...I didn't want to go. She said okay and I thought that was the end of it. However, on Wednesday morning I was super jealous of her and Brooke and figured I probably wouldn't get a lot of opportunities to go to a King's Day celebration again. So, around 2pm I booked my tickets to leave for Amsterdam at 4pm after clearing everything with Maaike. I'm going to King's Day 2017! Woo!

I board the train for Bremen Hbf and everything is normal. I have a coffee and Danish pastry from Jacobs to make the trip go smoother and all is well. When I get to Bremen, I transfer to my main train and sit back to listen to some more podcasts and catch up on writing these posts. Not much was of any interest on the train other than the crazy lady in front of me. She had this adorable dog with her that was so obedient and well behaved, but she was rather nuts. I first noticed this when she started a conversation with the conductor when he came by to check our tickets and wouldn't stop talking. She kept saying weird things about her grandma and things that didn't make much sense. Her poor dog was chilling all the while, but she was still kind of socially awkward. I noticed this again when some announcement came on over the loud speaker on the train and the conductor made a mistake and she hysterically laughed for, like, 3 minutes. Weird.

Once I finally got off at Amsterdam Centraal, I bought a tram ticket (which I bought for 12€ and only used once the entire trip!) and took the one tram to the stop Maaike wanted to meet me at. Originally Maaike and Brooke were supposed to arrive before me, but their bus got delayed so I actually arrived about 10 or 15 minutes before them. Once they finally got to the stop, they yelled my name and we met up. It was a wonderful reunion.

Maaike walked Brooke and I to her abode and we set up shop. We pulled out her pull out couch so I had a bed and put all of our things down. We met Maaike's parents (quite possibly the most wonderful people on the planet) and sat down for some dinner. Maaike's mum made all of us Polish beet soup and we had crackers and cheese. Felt very Dutch while eating and cutting the cheese. Soon Maaike's friends all came over and we prepped for a night out. I felt kind of weird at first because they were all girls and I was the only guy there, but everything grew on me. It was lots of fun (even when they sang songs from Dutch boy bands...kind of, haha).

When it was time to go out, Maaike looked at me and said, "can you bike?" Of course I can! Well, that meant that I got to bike through Amsterdam on one of the Van der Rohe bikes! Before we left, we took a few shots of Jaeger and made our way down the ridiculously steep Dutch stairs. Maaike unlocked her bike, her friends all did the same, and before knew it we were out into the night in Amsterdam. We weaved in between cars and around other bikes. I talked with Maaike's friends while we biked and they were so nice. Dutch people really are the greatest. We all got separated from each other several times but somehow always ended up back together.

Eventually, we stopped riding and chained our bikes up to one of the many bike racks in town. I had no idea where we were or where we were headed, so i just followed Maaike's friends. Eventually we found Maaike and were at a concert thing in the middle of some street corner. It was fun, we talked about random things (like I discovered that Dutch people call their king Willy! So I did that the whole rest of the trip), and eventually we even met up with some of Jack's friends (Jack from Jacobs). Not too long after, we went to some bar and met up with even more of Maaike's friends (most of them guys this time) and sat down for a few drinks. Brooke and I each bought each other a round of Delirium (some Belgian beer that all the other exchange students ranted and raved about) and we spent the rest of the night there. I think we were there until almost 3:30am when we decided it would be a good idea to leave.

At this point, Brooke is freaking wasted. She's talking nonsense. She's tripping over stuff. She's flirting with all of Maaike's friends. It was actually pretty funny. I don't know what it is about Amsterdam and people getting way too drunk. Anyway, to sober up Brooke we decide to go get some fries and Maaike has to hand feed the, to Brooke. We tell her she is drunk and she counteracts by telling us she can do a cart wheel...which she runs into the street and does rather dangerously. At this point, Maaike's friends are looking at us thinking that Americans don't have limits and are kind of nuts. Eh, it was fine. We parted ways for the night and headed back to Maaike's house. Only problem: Brooke was too drunk to stay on the back of Maaike's bike. So, we had to walk the whole way home while trying to guide drunk Brooke all the way through Amsterdam. There were several times where I thought she might fall and bust her head open, but she did good. We made it back safe and sound and went up to Maaike's room to pass out.

Knowing the night before, we didn't actually wake up until around 11...which is pretty bad. I felt really guilty for having wasted so much time in Amsterdam sleeping, but oh well. We all got ready (showers and whatnot) and ate breakfast. Maaike's house is absolutely beautiful. She shows us around and we even go to the rooftop to get a great view of Amsterdam from high up. The day is progressing though, so we head out into Amsterdam dressed in our orange for King's Day.

The park right next to Maaike's house is a big deal on King's Day. It's where, by tradition, little kids sell their stuff and people come by and pay for their goods and services. It was really cool seeing all of the little kids outside enjoying King's Day, eating their food and playing games. There's lots of great tradition...it's a wonderful holiday.

Most of the day is spent walking around doing random things. We walk around, talk, ask Maaike lots of questions, and meet with some of her high school friends. People are cruising around the canals in boats packed to the brim with people that are all unbelievably hammered. Streets are littered super badly and there's a concert on every street corner. Amsterdamers (is that what they're called?) know how to party!

King's Day is lit.

By 6pm we are all super tired. Before heading back, Brooke goes back to the park to get some homemade stroopwaffels and we make our way to south Amsterdam. We go back with the intention of taking a nap, but we mostly just sit around and talk about different things. Maaike's dad makes us dinner (which is delicious) and we sit around talking over dinner (and after) until Brooke has to leave to catch a bus to Paris around midnight. We talked about politics and geography and sports and economics. Really fun stuff, and Maaike's dad is super knowledgeable about European history and culture.

We pile into the family car and head to Sloterdijk to drop off Brooke and head back to get some sleep for the night.

We don't wake up until 10ish again and by the time I'm showered and eat breakfast, it's getting kind of late in the day. I leave Maaike to her family and say my thank you'd and goodbyes and then set out with the intention of meeting Ashmita and Seymour who were also around for a few hours. Well, Ash later informs me that they slept in really late in Delft and wouldn't be able to make it to Amsterdam to see me in time. They stood me up. :0

So, I walked around and did things in Amsterdam all by my lonesome. I tried my best to blend in (despite not having my hair gelled) and think I did pretty well. I enjoy Amsterdam. If I learned Dutch, I wouldn't mind living there. Or anywhere in the Netherlands really. Eventually the time comes for me to leave, I go to the train station, grab a smoothies, and head out to the platform to wait. As always, I'm a bit early but my train does eventually come (thank goodness!).

On the trains, some more weird things happen (there are always train stories, aren't there?). First, a freaking cat on board meows the entire first leg. That is 3 hours to put it into perspective. Meowing. The entire time. Why does your cat need to be on a train!?! Next, the last half of the train ride some Spanish speaking lady and her poorly 'stached son talked loudly, yawned as loudly as humanly possible, and lounged in their seats with their feet up and their heads on seats. I'm sure this made Germans nuts...it's considered really rude to put your feet on seats here. She then proceeded to whine really loudly while rubbing her feet. I really hated that woman. To assist her in annoyance, some guy behind me had an unlimited supply of apples that he continually ate. Loudly. Ugh.

TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, my train from Osnabrück to Bremen gets stopped short of Bremen and DB (the terrible company that it is) herds the passengers along on two separate buses to another station THAT ISN'T BREMEN. There a bunch of passengers wait in uncertainty and misinformation as DB screws around. Eventually, a train comes and all of the people scream and run after it while yelling. We all board and hope that it is, in fact, going to Bremen. It was! I exited the train, switched tracks on the platform, and waited for the train to Schönebeck. I'm gonna get home for the night!

I missed a lot of stuff in classes and have some work to do on a paper due on Tuesday. I should really pay attention to priorities...oops.