A Weekend in Western Europe
Trip Start Mar 02, 2003
41Trip End Jul 04, 2005
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So, with some much-needed financial support from Dan I bought my plane ticket on a Wednesday, sent one of our project drivers to pick it up on Thursday (yes, I know, it's pretty embarrassing that I sent a driver - but I honestly didn't have time because we were having a really important meeting in the office that day), and on early Friday morning I boarded the Ukraine International Airlines direct flight to Amsterdam.
Three hours later I landed in this very clean, very western country and set about to make my way from the airport to the Central train station and meet Dan whose train was arriving around 11am. One of the first things that I noticed in Holland is that everyone is really nice and smiley, not to mention that everyone seems to speak English. I bought my ticket to the Central train station without a hitch and the woman behind the counter actually wished me a pleasant stay in Amsterdam.
I arrived at the Central train station about 45 minutes before Dan's train was scheduled to arrive. I took a little walk around the neighborhood and made my way back to the station when I thought he would be walking out. Unfortunately, the announcements at the train station are done only in Dutch so I didn't hear that his train would be arriving 15 minutes late. As I stood there watching the throngs of tourists disembark I started to get worried that I wouldn't be able to find Dan and vice versa. I thought, "crap, this was not a good time to cut your hair, Maggie, he's not going to recognize you since all the pictures on your travelpod you have long hair." Thank goodness Dan did finally find me and we set about finding a place to stay in Amsterdam.
The weekend was very busy (as I would assume most weekends are in Amsterdam) and we finally settled on a hotel on the periphery of the center of the city
We spent the weekend walking around Amsterdam, exploring all the little side streets, bars, cafes and museums. We went to the Van Gogh Museum which I was really excited about because the last time I'd been in Amsterdam the museum was under renovation. The Van Gogh works were great, but my favorite part was their Art Nouveau exhibit. They had three whole stories of Art Nouveau works ranging from tapestries, to posters, and even furniture. It was a really good show and presented in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. From the Van Gogh we went to the Rijks Museum which is just down the street. Unfortunately, the Rijks is currently being renovated, so the enormous museum only has a small portion of its works on display. Thankfully they're still showing "The Nightwatch" their most famous piece by Rembrandt. The prices for the museums seemed totally outrageous to me ranging from 7.50 Euros to 10 Euros, and when you think that you're really only spending between one and three hours at a place it really tends to add up. And then you have to remember that the dollar is so weak right now - I mean I exchanged $100 and got something like 69 Euros in return. God, did I feel poor in Europe.
One of the highlights of the weekend was going to the Ann Frank House. I think Dan was originally a little skeptical about going there, but I convinced him that it would be worthwhile
Of course, in Amsterdam one can't miss a trip to the red light district. Dan and I took a stroll through the red light district several times during the day and at night. It was a really interesting experience to listen to Dan expound on the prostitution. We had a lot of fun watching men walk out of the different doors and windows after paying for, well, you know what. It was still shocking for me, however, to see men peeing in the middle of the street. I mean they have these very clever little public urinals, and these jerks are literally relieving themselves three inches from the sidewalk. Totally gross.
We spent a lot of time in different bars - usually ones that were serving yummy dark beer
I arrived back in Kyiv on Monday, totally relaxed, slightly hung over, but happy as can be. I am the luckiest person in the world to have friends like Dan and the opportunity to meet them in places all over the world. It really puts into perspective how small the planet is on which we all reside. I think we had a great time in Amsterdam and a few little adventures that we'll probably not soon forget. Thanks Dan, you're the greatest!