After my gorgeous 3 days & 4 nights in Brussels, it was time to leave. To begin the second leg of my journey... At the beginning, i was not willing to leave Nice. On my last day, i felt the same for Brussels. Because i had a feeling that my trip in Amsterdam would not be more enriching than Brussels. But the reservation was already made and the bus tickets were already bought. So, i had no option but leaving the city resembled to the city where i was born and raised. You already know the event happened to me in my last day. Afterwards, i went to Gare du Nord because it was the place where my bus was going to depart. It was overcast during the voyage. It touched me deeply and the bohemia in me expanded bit by bit.
The procedure of finding a place to stay is a bit funny actually. While we were drinking coffee with my friend, he asked me whether i had already found a place in Amsterdam. When i said no, he pushed me to find a one. I found a place to stay and the locator's name was a Turkish name but i wrote in English. And she also responded me in English. And we started to talk in English.
I was planning to arrive to Amsterdam at 15:45. However, it was not a good timing for my locator because she would not be at home. So, she decided to give the keys to her neighbours so that i could stop by and get them. She also texted me that she told them that i was her cousin from Istanbul because they did know she was renting one of her rooms out. After saying me: "By the way, i can speak Turkish too but to me, English is a bit easier" in Turkish :) (However, she speaks perfect. Even i said it to her.) It took exactly 2h45m from Gare du Nord to Sloterdijk train station in Amsterdam. When i took off the bus, it was extremely cold and rainy. That's why i will never understand why i lighted that cigarette in front of the station! Anyway, i had to take the train to Amsterdam Centraal at first and then, to take the tube to Weespersplein.
Finding the right train and metro was not as easy as it seemed. Amsterdam people were welcoming but the ticket machines were not and i do not speak Dutch. So that's why, i really felt like a tourist for the first time after two and a half years.
When i found the building, it was around 5 but it was already dark! I was estimating that her neighbours would be probably Dutch. Well, they were... with Yugoslavian origins! I saw Balkan surnames on the buzzer and i was so stressed when i realized that i would had to switch to Serbian immediately due to my reflexes. I was like: "Hello... sir... I am... (you do not even have to use the subject when you speak Serbian but i did... disadvantages of still thinking in French while speaking another language) the locators cousin...".
-Excuse me but i cannot reveal her name because i do not want to put her in jeopardy-
Anyway, they opened the door and invited me for a cup of coffee while asking me how i learned Serbo-Croatian. I said them my ex girlfriend was Serbian because as a matter of fact, real story is pretty longer than that and when i start talking, i really get into details. Probably it's because of my good memory. We talked around 2 hours. As i got, they immigrated to the Netherlands very long time ago. Even before the disintegration of Yugoslavia and that is why, they did not want to identify themselves precisely as Serbian or Croatian etc. He was asking me about my locator all the time and i was making up stories at the same time so that i could not even respond the messages i received from my sister, my ex neighbor who is also my friend, my best friend and my locator! :D
- "Yeah, she was the one for me. She opened my eyes to see."
- "I haven't seen her for ages. I can't wait!"
- "Please do not say her that i speak Serbian. She doesn't know it yet."
- "Džaba ti je / sve pare / ako si bolestan. Is that right?"
- "No, it's my second time in the Netherlands but it's my first time in Amsterdam because she comes to Istanbul and visits us every year."
- "Can you say it again? Džaba ti je..."
- "Actually my sister and she get along very well but she has to study for her exams and as i am in France, i wanted to visit my cousin this time in her home town."
- "Džaba ti je sve pare ako si bolestan. Finally!"
Actually, i really enjoyed it because it was like a sweet competition and the more i talked, the more i remembered Serbian.
I could met with my locator (and believe me, she is the coolest Turkish lady i have ever met) in the next morning because she could not come back due to a train accident in Leiden. When we met, i tried to switch to Turkish but i don't know why, i could not. And we spoke English for a couple of hours! Suddenly, i realized that i had no plans for Amsterdam. In other words, i had to seize the day. However, while my locator was cleaning the kitchen, she told me that she was going to go to her friend's brand new café to give her some advice and asked me if i wanted to join. "Sure." i said. Eventually, i started to speak Turkish while we were passing the river via ferry departed from Amsterdam Centraal.
After one hour we spent there, i decided to go back to Amsterdam Centraal and to walk around the channels, to taste some coffee and to visit Red Light district.
If you want to go to the channels from Amsterdam Centraal, just go straight and walk around in the backstreets while witnessing how crowded the city is. Why the backstreets? Because Amsterdam is worldwide famous for its coffee and you can find numerous cafés there. However, the downtown stinks because of it.
Please do not forget, the channels are much longer than you expected and more crowded than you imagined. This is why visiting two cities in just one week is not good for your condition! However, i found out many surprising facts during my hike:
There were many Parisien tourists in Amsterdam.
The amount of bikes is enormous.
In France, you kiss twice but in Belgium, it is once. However in the Netherlands, it is three times.
The place where i had my lunch was run by the Turk even though they sold bacon (which the Turk never do actually) and it didn't seem like a Turkish restaurant at all.
After i had my lunch, i wanted to taste and enjoy (hopefully there is a verb for to enjoy while tasting in French: déguster) the famous Dutch coffee. The bizarre thing is, smoking indoors is forbidden whereas drinking coffee in cafés is allowed. It was a bit burning but it was good. However, it is not something that i want to try again.
Afterwards i walked around 30 minutes more but when my legs started to suffer, i realized that it was time to go home. But did i go back immediately? Not. Because i found a buffet in which they sell fries and when i saw it, the taste of those amazing Belgian frites came to my mind. And i ate a middle size cornet of frites even though i was full.
Anyway, i went back home and i suddenly fell asleep. I did not regret because the rain had already started so i could not walk around anymore even if i wanted to. When i woke up, i did not feel so good because yet, i was not used to the unstable and humid climate of Amsterdam and i was still feeling so tired because of visiting two cities in just a week. For this reason that i became homesick but surprisingly, my homesickness was not for Istanbul. It was for Nice and my argument was already prepared: "It is around 19 degrees in my little lovely city whereas it is much less in here.".
Next morning, she prepared me and herself some Turkish coffee. I was surprised but i was also happy. Normally, i do not like Turkish coffee because it is so sour that it dehydrates you. Notwithstanding, my mom adores drinking Turkish coffee on her balcony while she smokes her tobacco. That's why this frame swam before my eyes when i saw the coffee and i was like: "Oh la vache, tu peux pas imaginer comment tu m'as manqué..." (Oh my god, you cannot imagine how i missed you...).
When my host asked me whether i liked Amsterdam, i had not known how to respond: "Please no offense but... Amsterdam is a lovely city but... I think i am homesick :(". And as an admirer of Amsterdam, she was like:
That day, i decided to visit museums and she also joined me because she already had a free membership and she could get someone else in. We took some coffee to drink en route (and i think Amsterdam is one of the best when it comes to coffee -i mean real coffee this time-) and we went to Rijksmuseum.
Rijksmuseum (Eng. National Museum) is probably the biggest museum i have ever been. It contains various works of art such as some masterpieces of Rembrant, Vermeer, Frans Hals etc. and also, many things about the Dutch history like gifts, souvenirs, tiled plates, glasses or plates and glasses colorized like gold, ship models etc. You can even see this one:
- Just in case, The sheets explaining The Night Watch are provided in four languages (Dutch, English, French and German) however, as the museum is mostly visited by the tourists, there were no sheets in English when i searched. I was lucky because i could read La Ronde de Nuit and i could explain it to my locator (Actually, i could also take a second sheet in Dutch so that she would not need my translation. Sometimes i can be extremely impulsive...). So, be careful. -
I insist you to see The Milkmaid and The Night Watch because both have very interesting facts. The Milkmaid may actually depict an ordinary dutch kitchen maid pouring some milk to a dutch oven but it gets more important when you glance at her face and to the utilization of brightness and contrast. Is she peaceful, or has had enough? Or is it just her routine? The interpretations are numerous. On the other hand, The Night Watch is about a company moving out which is led by captain Frans Banning Cocq. According to the sheet, Rembrant brightened most important ones' faces. But, the girl carrying chicken has yet to be identified.
It took us approximately two hours to walk around the museum. When we were about to leave, our mimics were telling each other the same: "Let's go and eat something!".
After she ordered our dishes, she said that she had a surprise for me. And the surprise was these yummy croquettes: Bitterballen. It is a Dutch meat or veal based snack containing a soft roux in it. Rather, a soup extremely thickened with flour. Normally, you eat it after dipping it into the mustard alongside beer but instead, i gave a shot to Dutch gin. It was great too!
Then i went to get to know again one of my favorite painters with René Magritte and Rembrant: Vincent Van Gogh (And i was really lucky that i had gotten a chance to see their opuses in the same week!).
Please do not forget, there is no exclusive tarif for students in Dutch museums unlike the other countries. In other words, consider this fact when you prepare your budget.
Unfortunately, this is the only photo i could take because it is forbidden over there and the security thinks that they are bodyguards in a night club or a casino so that they run to you while yelling: "NO PHOTO! NO PHOTO!".
Anyway, the museum has two buildings: small one and the bigger one. At first, you have to wait in the queue at least 30 minutes unless you bought your ticket online. Then, you will see the small building on your right. There is the entrance (fortunately, the ticket verification is much faster than the box offices). When you go down by escalators, you will see the shop which looks like Duty Free. Pass by it and take the other escalators which will connect you to the "ground floor" (in the picture) and then, to the first floor. The ground floor offers you to learn Van Gogh's life and to observe his self-portraits, brushes and pallets. However, the other three floors also offers you to take a look at his many portraits such as The Potato Eaters (and its sketchs), Sunflowers, Wheatfield with Crows, The Yellow House, Bedroom in Arles etc. The only thing made me sad is, i could not find The Starry Night there. Because The Starry Night is displayed at Museum of Modern Art in New York whereas Starry Night over the Rhône is displayed at Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
It lasted one and a half hour. It was 05:10 PM when i got out. While i was sitting on the stairs and smoking, i started to think like: "Why am i leaving this city tomorrow?!". We can also claim that i was inhaling the smoke to blow my sorrow away. I went back home to commence to write my article about Brussels to concentrate on something else.
As we had already arranged, me and my host went out to go to drink Rakı. I was really glad that we had already arranged it because it was the exact medicine i needed. She and the owner of the ginmill were very good friends and he taught me many things about life in just two hours. Probably the most important one is: "Home is not the place where you were born or raised, it is the place where you feel really happy.".
It felt really good because i had not drunk Rakı (a.k.a. lion milk) for ages and i think everyone on earth should give it a shot. It is transparent like vodka and gin but at first, we put just a little bit of it into the glass and then, we add water. Eventually, it becomes white. Comparing to gin, it is easier to drink but it is definitely stronger.
I have been in fifteen countries so far but my trip to Amsterdam was the most amazing, adventurous and surprising one. Maybe the city is humid, maybe it stinks because of coffee, maybe the climate is unstable, maybe i was homesick in my first day because of them and maybe i had to deal with a guy who wanted to exchange his cocaine with a cigarette. But no matter what, none of them prevents me to have a Post Amsterdam Depression at the moment.
Sometimes i wish i could visit Amsterdam at first. Because i would be less tired and maybe i could enjoy its beauty more. But mostly, i am thankful. Because i could met with the right people in the right place and in the right time and we did the right stuff. This is why i love Amsterdam. Because it offers you to have your own interpretation on it. Like a novel... For example, when i say to my friends that sometimes i miss the coffee culture in Amsterdam, they get it as i actually miss the thug life. I can't blame them because we all have our own interpretations.
I hope you can also have a nice opinion on it.