I recently got to travel to Amsterdam with The Boy and his soccer club. I realize this seems to redefine the term "soccer mom" and is stretching the limits of the idea of a "traveling team." We like to stretch limits around here. But seriously speaking, The Boy just happens to play for a Dutch team plopped down in the middle of the Midwest of America. So the club thought it would be nice to take the U17 team on a trip to play some games and tournaments in the homeland.
I couldn't resist the temptation to go too of course. And as it happens, I have an old friend from college who lives in Amsterdam with his wife. So while The Boy was off with the team for the week, I was busy cycling around Amsterdam and working from the Starbucks in Rembrandtplein. It was rough, I gotta tell you.
Cycling is amazing in this city! I know that comes as no surprise but they really are serious about it here. I cycled at a minimum of 6 miles per day, usually much more, as my friends live on the outer edges of the city.
I would cycle to Sloterdijk, the nearest station, park the bike and ride into Central Station, or sometimes just ride all the way into town and leave the bike there. As you'll see from the photo above, parking's a bear! You literally have to create a thought palace in your head just to anchor in your memory where the hell you left your bike. And sometimes retrieving it from the melee of parked/locked bikes once you find it, is another challenge altogether.
I also could not resist coming along on this trip because I have always wanted to explore Amsterdam more. And with the help of Scott's Cheap Flights, I found us roundtrip tickets on British Airways for $425 each, saving considerably from booking with the soccer club travel agent and flying with the team. And this was in April -- height of tulip season in the Netherlands, so awesome deal.
I enjoyed a lot of fresh seafood while I was there. I mean really fresh - like raw. The Dutch like their raw food. And it's not even trendy. I had raw herring with onions. I figure if I can eat sushi I can try raw herring. It really was quite good. I also tried a raw organic sausage, which I was not quite as fond of. Something about the texture is just too foreign to my American palate. I'll take my red meat cooked, thank you.
The Dutch are such lovely people, even if they eat of lot of raw things. Super friendly, everywhere I went. Plus absolutely everyone speaks English, so not knowing a word of Dutch was not even an issue. I am the kind of traveler who always tries to at least learn how to say a few words, such as the most important ones: please, thank you, where is the bathroom? etc. in the language of the country I'm visiting. But here there was no need, and no guilt or attitude about not speaking Dutch. I think I could live here!
The Boy really enjoyed his matches, against mostly Dutch, some Belgian, teams as well. This country is definitely on my list for repeat visiting.
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