Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It was (+/-) 20 years ago when I had my first European experience. My friend Marc had been tasked by me, Matt, and Charles to get a good deal on a Spring Break trip. We figured Florida would be our destination. As Marc so often did, he surprised us with an unexpected opportunity. We spent 12 whirlwind days moving quickly from London to Amsterdam (via an overnight ferry from England to the Hook of Holland) to Belgium to Paris, experiencing many aspects of Europe and generating stories that to this day bring a smile.

Since my time in Amsterdam was very limited, I decided to take advantage of a free walking tour that the hostel was promoting. Aside from refreshing me on the economics of red lights and coffee shops, the tour taught me a few things about Amsterdam that I didn't know:

In WW2 over 80,000 Jews were deported. Only 1,200 returned
The houses are so narrow that furniture needs to get hoisted up the exterior  rather than go up the stairs
The birthplace of the fabled East India Trading Company
The City Crest - Ironically featuring XXX
An engineering solution to eliminate public urination
The Royal Palace
The Palace was cool for a couple of reasons.The first was that unlike every other place we have seen where the church was the undisputed tallest building in town, Amsterdam's focus on commerce had the Royal Palace (back in the day it was the Town Hall) as the top dog in town.

The other interesting story was to do with the balcony. Back in the day Napoleon installed his brother as the ruler of the Netherlands. Apparently he took the idea seriously and tried to learn dutch. His first speech included a line about "My people, I am your king." Apparently his french accent made it more loosely translate to "My people, I am your bunny rabbit." Nice first impression!

OK - I already knew Dutch pancakes were yummy!
As I left Amsterdam and headed for my overnight ferry to Harwich I realized I was (kind of) reenacting that tour but in reverse. I wondered what Marc would have thought of me dropping out for a year to do this trip. Sadly he was taken from us much too soon so I will never know for sure, but I like to think he would have thought this was pretty cool.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the Haiku, I have been waiting with baited breath.

    Lingering over breakfast;
    sun as summer tries 
    to push spring to bed.