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Less tourist-y, but still kind of tourist-y things to do in Amsterdam

I’ve been here a month, and I’m starting to feel like a resident of Amsterdam! I’m able to go several places, including places in the canal district, without a map; I finally realized I don’t have to try to speak Dutch when in public; and I’ve baked my first quick bread in my kitchen!

Today marks the longest time I’ve ever been in Europe. I feel a little bit like Samwise Gamgee in this scene:

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Sam: This is it.
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been. 

I should also say that today marks the first day my friend, Christina, is living in Oxford, England! I’m so excited for her and to have her in the same continent as me!

I’m so glad I came to Amsterdam while it’s warm. It’s a daily joy riding my bike around town, running errands, getting groceries, and just meandering for the sake of meandering.

Amsterdam is very small – you can spend a leisure afternoon riding your bike through the entire city, popping into shops, grabbing lunch and stopping for a photo-op at an Iamsterdam sign. I don’t mean to say you can do everything, but you can cover a lot of ground.

But the more you do, the more you see there is to do!

1) Flea Markets!

Last weekend I went to the Noordermarkt, which is a Saturday flea market in the fashionable Jordaan district. There was so much there! The best flea market I’ve ever been to was Pike Place in Seattle, Washington, but this was was very nice, too. There were vendors for fish, meat, bread, olives, dried fruit, nuts, even British pies! There were vendors for clothing, leather, purses, shoes, tights. I bought tights, dried fruit (dried bananas, but not the chip kind, they were chewy, and dried grapes – still on the vine!), 3 single serving British savory pies (sweet potato, veggie lentil curry, and african-something!), eggplant spread and what ended up being my lunch: honey mixed nuts and a persimmon fruit!

I parked my bike. (The one with the wooden basket.)

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One of my first stops was at this heavenly selection of dried fruits. And you could just pick one up and sample it! Or at least the old lady did next to me, and when nobody stopped her (who stops an old lady?) I did the same, and they couldn’t reprimand me after not reprimanding her. 😉

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know someone who’d love these watches. 😉

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I stopped in my tracks when I saw the pies! I LOVE British savory pies! It was tough picking which ones I wanted.

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If you’ve never tried a persimmon before, you should – they’re light and sweet and very delicious.

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Dried grapes on a vine!

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On the way back I got stuck in traffic.

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There are a lot of flea markets. I was at City Hall for work, and I walked outside to this:

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Can you spot the TIE fighter?

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2) Bagels & Beans Cafe

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Bagels & Beans‘ are everywhere, and have delicious Chai Tea Lattes and bagel sandwiches. They also have free wifi! I’m not yet sure if free wifi is common in most cafes here. I feel like I should know that by now, right?

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3) Heritage House Tours

Wow, it was already 3 weekends ago, but I toured one “Heritage House” of many that were open to the public for one weekend in Amsterdam. The entire tour was in Dutch, and despite the house being nice, it wasn’t nice enough to entice me to see more without knowing their historical significance.

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And on the way out of the tour, there was a boat parade, and one boat had a full band on it!

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4) Public Art

And always keep your eyes open for art cropping up from nowhere.

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Well, those are some of the highlights of my weekends here in Amsterdam. I’ve also gone jogging in the beautiful Vondelpark and Rembrandtpark here, both close to my apartment. Last weekend I visited a friend of mine in a southern Dutch city, Maastricht. I’ll post about that trip later!

Tot ziens,
Beth

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Beware of bell.

Tonight is my last night living south Novi, close to downtown Northville, which I love riding my bike down to. As it’s my last night, and a magnificent night, I thought I’d take one last bike ride to downtown Northville. I was thoroughly enjoying the mild wind, the people sipping coffees outside cafes and people leaving restaurants carrying leftover boxes.

I’ll interrupt with an important note: I got this bell in Amsterdam:

and I’ve only recently put it on my bike. Naturally, a biker would use this to inform a pedestrian that a bike is coming. But no metro Detroit city I’ve been to is used to bikers. People here jump out of their skins when they  hear this noise:

I frightened a poor older woman today, leaving a restaurant with her husband. They were leisurely strolling up the sidewalk in front of me. I was going so slowly behind them, that I was practically walking my bike, but I couldn’t get around, so I did what any biker with a bell would do – rung the bell.

She was startled and asked me if I should be on the sidewalk or not. Honestly, there’s no room in the street in downtown Northville – the cars barely have room to squeeze by. She was polite to me, but still annoyed with me.

At first I was a little ticked that she’d put a dent in my nice night and good mood, and sorry that I’d done the same for her.

But then I thought, it IS up to me, as the biker, to make sure I don’t inconvenience any pedestrian; not to frighten them, even if they’re in no danger of being hit, because they still think they are, when a biker comes near. It didn’t matter that I was practically inching along the sidewalk – they hear the bell, see the bike, and freak out. “Should I move to the left or right? Or stay where I am? Should I even turn around?”

I have two morals to this story:
1) Be courteous to walking pedestrians when on my bike. They’re comfort comes before my comfort.
2) DON’T ring the bell! Instead, shout, “bike on your left,” which is easier for them to determine how far you are behind them, how fast you’re going, in which direction you’ll skirting around them, and also how kindly you ask. People are much less scared this way, and very appreciative.

Oh, and moral 3) If you don’t like the bike bell sound either – don’t go to Amsterdam!

Yeah, that’s a kid in the front cart.

Bike racks in a residential area. wowzers.

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Fear.

I’m afraid of a lot of things. Many people are. Fear keeps us from discovering new things, from learning how un-scary things can be, from breaking through our fears.

People are afraid of breaking through the monotony that life can sometimes be. Monotony isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s watching TV after a long day at work. It’s getting your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant. It’s doing your hair the same 3 styles all the time. I repeat, not bad things, but still stable, monotonous things.

But think about a life where you go camping, talk to strangers, travel, try new restaurants, try pub trivia, or walk somewhere instead of drive.

You’ll have a new opinion of what’s ‘clean’, you’ll gain insight into the greater population of you country, of the world, you’ll expand your food palette, you’ll be a part of a team, and you’ll discover how far the sidewalk goes.
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What is wrong with this statement?
“I want my life to be lived to the fullest.”

I think many people have that attitude towards life. Is it not a heart-felt, energetic, forward-thinking statement?

No, it’s not. This person expects someone else to fulfill their life.

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I’m afraid of shaking up life. I’m afraid of making a bad move, and ending up jobless and with ruined hiring prospects. I used to think this fear prevented me from doing a lot. But it’s helped me experience a lot. I’ve only cracked the surface of my fear though. I want to break it deeper.

I WILL break deeper into my fear, as well as keep the ever-luring monotony from getting closer. What will I start with? I’m going to look up campsites with hiking trails in northern Michigan, and also go skydiving.

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