Amsterdam was lovely. Words don't really do my experience justice, as usual, but the five weeks that I spent in that diverse, bustling city full of canals and art and Turkish pizza were incredible, to say the least. I had no idea what to expect, leaving the country once again to embark on my return to Amsterdam, the city that irrevocably changed my life five years ago. I knew that the month had the potential to be life-altering, but it also had the opportunity to simply be a nice experience with some friends. Thankfully, it was the former.
On my final day in Amsterdam, I had two goals: Eat a pancake and make it to the airport on time. Both were accomplished, one with greater enthusiasm than the other. We went to the bike barn, unlocked the bikes and realized that we had a minor problem. We had three bikes for four people. What to do? Ride like the Dutch, that's what. Calley boarded my navy blue Sparta bicycle with a rack on the back, and I hopped upon that rack and held on for dear life. We shakily flew down the narrow and, unfortunately for me, bumpy streets of Amsterdam toward the best pancake house in the world. Calley was a pro, lugging my around on her back wheel, and we felt very local. No one even batted an eye at us, assuming that we were just normal Dutch girls on our way to a business meeting or an outing with friends.
Then came the pancake. A flat doughy cake approximately two times the size of my head. It was everything that I should not eat. Sugar. Ice cream. Chocolate syrup. Whipped Cream. And of course, the healthy ingredient that made it all worthwhile, fresh pears. An elderly American couple saw this massive breakfast of mine, said to me "That is ridiculous!" and then asked if they could take a picture of it. I enthusiastically said, "Of course!" and posed with my final breakfast in Amsterdam. A picture that I will never see but will be passed around that family from person to person, everyone in awe of the size of that massive sugary pastry from a foreign land.
Amsterdam, in a nutshell, was lovely. It was simultaneously encouraging and discouraging, heartwarming and heartbreaking, pleasant and awful, beautiful and dark. It was everything that I could have hoped it to be.
And now I am back in the States, living in a house with four other girls, learning how to homeopathically rid our residence of masses of gnats, feeding Liberty regulars and hyping them up with espresso and coffee at their beckon call. Although I can reminisce about Amsterdam with fond memories, I still haven't dealt with the magnitude of our research or the enormity of emotions that follow such work. Tonight I am going to attempt to lock myself in my room, although only in spirit because my door does not lock, and possibly start the process of dealing with what I have seen and heard in the beautiful city of Amsterdam and the small towns of Hungary.
Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.