Coming back to Amsterdam after almost a full month of being away was like returning home. My apartment felt bigger, my fridge seemed emptier and my city had never looked so beautiful. With only 3 weeks left to call Amsterdam home, it was time to take advantage and make sure those “last times” were the best times.
Of course, this essential meant we had to eat our way through the city 🙂
Beginning mere hours after our plane landed, we were at the Saturday night version of our Sunday favourite: The NeighbourFood Market. The food options weren’t as good but the ice cream and music were rocking. The next day, we did it up right for our last NeighbourFood visit. I went for hirata buns, after falling in love with them in London, and this delicious burger:
A few days (or it could have been the next day) later, we were back at Westerpark but this time for the famous scones! I can honestly say these scones are the best I’ve ever had; even better than the ones served with afternoon tea in London! They are warm and come with tasty cream & jam. Of course, this wasn’t our last scone tasting!
Next on the gastronomical tour down memory lane: Pannenkoeken! Or, Dutch pancakes! Our favourites are at the Pancake Bakery by the Anne Frank house. The only was to enjoy these is with friends: everyone orders a pancake, you eat a share and then rotate the plates. This way, you get to try everything and don’t have to choose between savoury and sweet!
We couldn’t leave Amsterdam without taking a ride on the iconic canals. I had been tempted by overpriced tour boats before but am so glad I waited until we rented a boat for ourselves. It was so fun to be out on the water, manoeuvring the boat ourselves, while enjoying good music, good drinks and good cheese. Despite almost hitting a few other boats and struggling to “park”, we had a blast on the boat.
How else could we top off a typical Dutch day than enjoying the football match with our fellow Nederlanders at an outdoor pub? While I’m not a huge soccer fan (and not scoring for the first 70 minutes didn’t help) even I loved the atmosphere when we beat Chile 2 – 0!
June 25th brought us to the Grumble Gig, which was actually the reunion of 6 friends over dinner and not a group of pugs playing instruments. It was the final date the 6 of us would be in the city and we celebrated with a meal at Everything On A Stick (actual name of the restaurant). And while the service may have, the food did not disappoint! Everything was literally on a stick and the beef was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Better than the food and novelty of eating off sticks was the unstoppable laughter erupting from our table all night long. I miss the grumble!
The next morning, Stephanie’s family arrived and we showed them Gabby’s favourite kiwi brunch spot. Somehow she managed to find a New Zealand-owned brunch place in Amsterdam that serves some serious food. My plate of pulled pork, poached eggs, avocado and mango salsa was SO GOOD I’m a little upset I didn’t go back a second time. And making our breakfast date even more special: I got a quick visit from my wonderful friend Mel, who was en route to Ghana from Vancouver!
Sadly, after a delicious brunch it was time for me to hunker down. Over the next 48 hours I crammed and wrote my final exam (24/30 baby!) and joined my flatmates in the most intense clean our apartment has ever seen. After all that mental and physical work, it was time to relax and enjoy Gabby’s last day in Amsterdam! After starting our day with scones (what else?) we missioned into town to find Thai food and for another visit to the zoo. Unfortunately, the zoo wasn’t accepting our student discount on a Saturday, so we decided on a place with fewer kids and better smells: Gabby’s favourite brewery!
Saying goodbye to Gabby on the 29th was tough. It had been an emotional week of goodbyes with Steph and Candy already having left the city. But Gabby was especially hard, given that “see you soon!” doesn’t really apply to someone living in New Zealand. But we have a pact: before I turn 25 (in 3 years!) we will be living together again in the wonderful city of London! See you there Gabs!
To celebrate Carlie’s last few days she had friends in town and we had a few last minute things to check off the A-dam bucket list. #1: utilize that student discount at the zoo! We saw all the animals, even the gorillas this time! And Carlie even dragged me into the insect and reptile houses, though I squirmed the whole time. The highlight was definitely watching Carlie get a proper Amsterdam send off from a friendly elephant 🙂
Another thing I’ve been doing a lot of in the last few weeks: watching MasterChef Australia! The show is wonderful and crazy addictive. Plus, it airs 5 nights a week, so there is always something to watch. Gabby & Colin got me hooked on it and then we pulled in Carlie. After being inspired by a good 30+ episodes of MasterChef, Carlie and I decided to try our hand at chocolate noodles. It was so fun (and simple!) to make and it made our chocolate treat feel way more posh!
After failing on finding a cheap and near by Indonesian restaurant for Carlie’s last supper, we settled for take away Chinese and frivolity on the swings!
And before we knew it, July 2nd was here and our place was spotless. It was so weird to see our place empty and to roll suitcases out our front door. It was especially weird for me, since I was only moving downstairs. I hugged Carlie goodbye, with promises to catch up over sushi in Van this fall, and entered my new apartment.
It has been a strange week: I’m still in Amsterdam and I’m still in the Gevleweg apartments but I’m not in my apartment and I’m all by myself. I’ve never had an issue with solo travel (see most of my trips) but after starting out in a place with people, it’s tough to lose them. I think Amsterdam understood my feelings: the whole week has been a weird mix of humidity, wind and rain; which makes staying in my PJs till 1pm much easier. I’ve definitely had a pretty lazy week but I’ve been able to get ahead on some Tokyo prep and get some time to myself before I’m thrown into 3 weeks of students, teachers and host families.
Tomorrow I leave for Japan. It’s weird to be leaving on another trip when almost everyone I know is ending theirs. And it’s strange to be going even farther abroad after spending 5 months living in Europe. People keep asking if I’m excited and I can see why: 3 weeks working a nice job in a new country that has as much culture and good cuisine as Japan does is definitely a dream experience. But despite all that, there is a part of me that wants to go home. And there’s another part of me that wants to stay in Amsterdam (bringing back all my friends, of course). That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to Tokyo, but “excited” doesn’t seem to capture my current emotion.
But, to be honest, I wasn’t exactly excited on my way to Amsterdam. I was nervous to be starting a new life in a new city at a new school with new friends. I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to London. And I was regretting leaving behind my family in Toronto and my job/school in Vancouver. But from all that worry, disappointment and regret came 5 amazing months and one of the best experiences of my life. I suspect something very similar will happen with Tokyo.