13 October 2013 @ 11:52 pm
Crocky and I went to Amsterdam on Tuesday and came back on Friday.

The short version: we cycled a lot, were almost run over by cyclists, too, got stopped by the police, didn't get high (because the spire of the Westerkerk does not admit people with backpacks), went to the red light district, took pictures from what felt like every single bridge overlooking the famous canals, came back to the hotel smelling of weed in spite of our tee-totalling habits.

Basically every picture I took:

Of course both Crocky and I already knew that this country is awesome. [livejournal.com profile] therealsnape lives there, after all.

Still, there are some areas that we didn't really know before spending the last four days in Amsterdam on a spontaneous city break.

  • People there are Serious about cycling. I had realised this during our last foray into Groningen, but the difference to things over here is still striking. And unlike in my current town, politics seems to be on their side, too. There are some initiatives to get people to cycle more, but we still don't have the level of cyclist-friendly infrastructure they have here and that we've encountered in Sweden as well. Germans do bike, but not this extent, even in car-unfriendly towns. Also, in Germany, if you are on a bike, you are basically a fast pedestrian. Of course you are technically meant to observe which side of the road you bike on, but if you don't most people won't even notice. Also, though there are laws that say that you're not allowed to cycle on the sidewalk over the age of eight, nobody really bats an eye if you do. In Amsterdam, you are basically a car and had better behave like one, too. People also go fast. Our rented bikes weren't up to much and we wanted to look around, so we were overtaken by everybody, but I still absolutely loved cycling through that city.

  • Dutch is really that close to German. I hadn't heard it spoken before a lot, but like most Germans I can read it, so I was curious. Yes, it really is that intelligible to me. I'm eyeing language classes again, because surely, this would be simpler than my attempts at Russian and I would feel less of an idiot in supermarkets on our next trips. Come to that, as I said last time we were over in the Netherlands what bugs me most about my countrymen in Germanic-language-speaking-countries is that more often than not they get by by slooowly speaking German at the natives and waiting for them to understand, which strikes me as really rude. They do the same in the Netherlands, and apparently everybody over there speaks German enough to answer the questions of unwary tourists. Nobody has ever spoken Dutch at me in an attempt to get around in Hamburg, though, and I doubt that I could muster up enough Dutch to answer, so this leaves me in awe. Linguistic super powers, they have.

  • The sweets, oh my goodness. We took home a lot of Stroopwafels, Eierkoeken, and Sinterklaas-themed sweets like Kruidnoten, chocolate cigarettes and white chocolate letters. I'm not sure what purpose the latter serve, but I'm enjoying my white-chocolate-A. I am convinced that the only reason the Dutch get away with these goodies while maintaining their divine figures is all that cycling.

  • Playgrounds over there are better than they are at home, or at least they look way better. We didn't dare go on one, but oh my goodness, who wouldn't want to frolic around in houses suspended on wires on poles with climbable nets all around.

Current Location: Germany, Bremen
Current Music: The Glasgow Madrigirls - Candens Lillium
Current Mood: sleepy
( Post a new comment )
[identity profile] cranky--crocus.livejournal.com on October 14th, 2013 04:35 am (UTC)
who wouldn't want to frolic around in houses suspended on wires on poles with climbable nets all around.
I would, I would!

Love this entry. Fascinating! Great points in number 2, as well.

And now I am craving sweets. Would love to head all the way over there to pick some up, but I think I'll just have to content myself with boring American sweets, sigh.
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
Mothwing: Food[identity profile] mothwing.livejournal.com on October 14th, 2013 02:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, I wish I had known earlier, I could have mailed you KIWI in white chocolate letters. ♥

Although I am sure you have great sweets. Sweet-sampling is my favourite part about travelling.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
[identity profile] cranky--crocus.livejournal.com on October 14th, 2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
*Laughs.* I would have liked that--snailmail is my favourite--but no need! And of course you're free to send me a letter any time, chocolate or no. ;D I love writing back!

I'm not so fond of our sweets much of the time. I tend to prefer UK sweets.

Though I have been craving caramel-covered apples...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
Mothwing: Food[identity profile] mothwing.livejournal.com on October 15th, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'll keep it in mind! ♥

UK sweets are horrible. Whenever we're over there I have to really pull myself together to not spend the entire time eating only sweets. Revels in particular I've taken to, and anything with mint - in Germany, mint and chocolate seems to be some kind of rarity, in the UK people are much more sensible about this culinary staple.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
[identity profile] cranky--crocus.livejournal.com on October 19th, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
Oh gods, Revels! You're really bringing me back now. Those were one of our favourites to bring to lectures and munch on.

I get really homesick for the UK fairly often, especially with sweets. (: Going to the international isle can be incredibly bittersweet!
(Reply) (Parent) (Link)
[identity profile] therealsnape.livejournal.com on October 14th, 2013 05:15 am (UTC)
You get the letters for Sinterklaas - your initial in chocolate. The day after Sinterklaas the less popular and left-over letters are sold cheaply. I used to buy the dark ones and make chocolate mousse with them.

But a chocolate letter is very much the sweet to give to adults - children get chocolate Sinterklaas figurines, or the other candies.

Glad you enjoyed our country so much! Oh, and we do all have at least two or three years of mandatory German in secondary school. And we have Rudi Carell as a shining example.
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
Mothwing: Food[identity profile] mothwing.livejournal.com on October 14th, 2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
Of course I enjoyed your country. ♥
And those chocolate letters are for adults? What a nice idea!

Does that make German a third foreign language? That's even more impressive, then. I can barely ask for the way in French (my second foreign language), and I do remember Rudi Carell's considerable German prowess, though he lived in Bremen for a long time, of course. Still, I'm as ever in awe.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
[identity profile] therealsnape.livejournal.com on October 14th, 2013 05:25 pm (UTC)
I think in terms of fluency, English would be the first (and the language everyone graduates in), German the second (in terms of 'does one actually manage to say something useful even several years after one's schooling ended), and French the third (as in 'can still order a beer, but not much else).

German gets second place only because people do manage to say things, and that's, as you point out, because we're practically similar.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Link)
Mothwing[identity profile] mothwing.livejournal.com on October 15th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
I meant in the order of people learning it, but it absolutely makes sense that fluency levels work out that way. If we had to take Dutch at school instead of French or Spanish/Russian/Latin/other third language, I am pretty sure that's the one most of us would still manage to say most in. Well, apart from English, but that one's a given for most, anyway, I suppose.
(Reply) (Parent) (Link)
lord_hellebore: blue goth[personal profile] lordhellebore on October 14th, 2013 05:40 am (UTC)
Learning Dutch is on my list as well. It IS that similar, and that easy. When I left (I was in Breda from october 4th - 7th), I could tell my friend "Dankjewel voor de fantastische tijd" without looking up the words ;)

Edited 2013-10-14 05:47 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread) (Link)
Mothwing[identity profile] mothwing.livejournal.com on October 14th, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
The amount of cognates is really stupendous, isn't it?

My attempts aren't as impressive, but I did have an exchange with a cashier once.

I've been checking VHS courses, and there is a weekend course not too long from now. Hm.
(Reply) (Parent) (Link)
[identity profile] rizardofoz.livejournal.com on October 22nd, 2013 03:25 am (UTC)
Awesome! Mary and I were in Amsterdam for two days in May. Loved it! Wished we could have had better weather though... I wanted to ride the canals a bit and wander without feeling like a sno-cone.

(Reply) (Link)