Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lastly from Amsterdam

Look closely that's me between the s and t

November 4, 2010  It is day 4 in Amsterdam and we have managed not to be killed by one of the 750,000 Amsterdammers who are either whizzing by on bicycles, speeding by in their cars, or screeching past on motorbikes.  I swear only tourists are on foot and I suspect the secret sport of the locals is to see how close one can get to running down a tourist without actually doing so.

Once off their vehicular murder machines, Amsterdammers are friendly, happy, content, helpful, amazingly tall and striking to look at, and no wonder as there is certainly something magical in the air here.

The buildings, the canals, the museums, the light, the food, the atmosphere of tolerance, the progressiveness of the city in general-- I am overwhelmed by it all and know, once home, will be constantly scanning airfare rates for a return visit.

We travel home this Sunday and I've been reflecting on what I've learned in my travels:

One cannot live by desserts alone.  Eventually you feel ill and gain tons of weight.  Better to invest in a translation gizmo so you don't have to be afraid of eating sheep testicles, goat head stew, raw oxtail sausage, or fish glands ( it could have been gills, hard to be sure due to waiter's accent but would gills be preferable to glands?!)

People are not the same everywhere. We may all be born with the same gear but our environment informs and forms us in unique ways. 

History does not necessarily have much truth in it.  

Canada may be important to me but to Europeans or Moroccans we are barely on the map.  And I really understand why there are not boatloads of Dutch and Germans trying to find safe harbour in BC coastal waters.

Toronto is a great place to live but I think we work too hard or rather we spend too intense a time working. All over Europe and Morocco people take proper lunch breaks as well as long morning and afternoon breaks.  In Germany at lunchtime, we saw office workers wearing ties and button down collared shirts, playing an intense game of soccer.   In Spain and France the shops actually close down for 2 hours for lunch,  and in Morocco everyone takes time to go to a mosque and pray 5 times a day.  And dinners are light and late.  8 to 10 pm is normal. No rushing home to throw dinner together.

I also learned that even though I am travelling with a loved one it is hard to be a stranger everywhere. and being away from friends and family is what makes you homesick - the daily encounters and involvement in your lives are like nutrients not to be found in grand buildings or delicious custard tarts.

We fly on Sunday.  I will miss Amsterdam, but I will be glad to hug my girls with my feet planted firmly in Toronto.

This is the canal where our guest room was located.

Typical Amsterdam street

A few of the gazillions of bikes in Amsterdam

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