The end.

by racmccaf on 19 August 2010

The time has come, as I sit in my hotel room half-watching Dutch TV (Fraiser, ironically…) with my sister, to write a final post to wrap up this part of my trip.

The ending of the program came in a bittersweet fashion. Although I was  becoming quite ready to finish up and say goodbye to my project, I had such a fantastic month, I’m sad to see it go. Highlights from the last week were: a day trip to Utrecht, home from which I (and two others) wore a stranger’s pants after an intimate encounter with the canal during a canoe/kayak trip, several trips to a restaurant/bar around the corner from the dorms near Artis where I have become friends with the bartender, a successful final presentation of my project, and the purchase of the craziest pants I’ve ever seen at a street market near the windmill brewery by VKS.

When my sister Amanda arrived on Tuesday morning it was raining, dreary, and everyone was packing and leaving. Failure to obtain a mattress from John almost spelled disaster in the form of Amanda and I having to squeeze onto my very small bed. However, Derek had left early and Ben was still around to let me into his room where I slept away my last night at the compound before literally being kicked out of my own room at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

The hotel I found here has proven to be a gem. It’s not far from the Albert by Waterlooplein and is spacious enough that there was room for Jenny and Greg to crash (and dump the entire contents of both their suitcases) on the floor and couch last night. The all-hours breakfast/coffee/cookie/bread/cheese/sausage/fruit bar downstairs might be the best part though. I led my sister on a bike tour yesterday and today that ended up being a heavy dose of nostalgia of having been lost on certain streets over the last month. “Oh I remember this is where John led us astray on the way to Leidseplein,” or “oh yes, Jenny and I were confused around here once or twice,” and “I dropped my map here on the way to Vondelpark on the first day with my bike and wanted to cry.” I managed to maneuver the city like an expert though, which has only caused a sickening feeling to form in the pit of my stomach that I have to leave soon. I find this an interesting realization to have because I think it encompasses part of what Jenny’s and my project was attempting to convey. I’m not sure if I became attached to Amsterdam in and of itself or if it was mostly because I associate it with the good time I had with this program. Either way, meandering the streets and eating dinner with my legs dangling over the canal tonight felt like home. Being able to recognize streets, shops, and cafes I’ve dined at is something special. There’s such comfort to be found in the familiar. It saddens me to think that bicycling over flat terrain, light as a feather thanks to my wonderful saddle bags, careening over dikes and canals with the click of my bell will not be something I can take home with me. I will miss that rickety omafiets. Now that Jenny and Greg have departed, I believe I am the last one left. But knowing Clifford is roaming around somewhere with Jasper in his bike basket is reassuring.

I sign off by offering the wiki link to my final project. Or might I suggest you Google my name and “gezellig” and see what you find a few links down. Thank you to everyone for a great month in a great city doing great things.

Amsterdam, I will be back.

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