These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

After spending years living in Eastern and Western Africa – where me and the local cuisine rarely see eye-to-eye – one of my favorite things about travel is the food. Amsterdam was no exception. And while I loved it for the international variety (only London surpasses it in quantity), I can happily say we enjoyed the Dutch pancakes so much we ate them twice : )

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Also, every cup of hot chocolate was divine – but you could have guessed that given our chocolate-scented bike ride.

I also couldn’t get enough of the architecture – Europe has something I can’t seem to find anywhere else: buildings I could stare at for hours. And in Amsterdam, I loved it all…from the traditional to the quirky.

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Something that all cities I love have in common is their green space. Between the canals and the parks, Amsterdam gave me the fresh air and outdoor space that I’ve been craving, being trapped inside our apartment in Accra.

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I know I already wrote about my love of Amsterdam museums, but no list of my favorite things would be complete without these beauties. Maybe next time we’ll make our way inside the Rijksmuseum.

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Banksy, Dalí, and van Gogh in Amsterdam

So…biking in Amsterdam’s not my thing. But museum hopping certainly is. We only made it to two on this vacation, but we have a long list of museums to go back for.

Amsterdam is full of museums covering topics as varied as the holocaust in the Anne Frank House to traditional dutch art in Rijksmuseum to fluorescent art in Electric Ladyland to a museum dedicated to works depicting cats. I kid you not: KattenKabinet.

And if you think we don’t have plans to go to all four of those someday, you’re dead wrong.

This trip, however, we made our way through the Van Gogh Museum and the Moco Museum.

Unfortunately, the Van Gogh Museum doesn’t allow photos, so I had to screenshot the following from their website. I went for Sunflowers, of course, but fell in love with some surprisingly varied paintings:

Cypresses and Two Women

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Irises (ok, not surprising, still flowers!)

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And oddest but most fascinating of all: Red Cabbages and Onions

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We also learned some fascinating facts about van Gogh: After chopping off the piece of his ear, he gave it to a prostitute; he was named after his stillborn brother; his early paintings (pre-Paris) are super traditional; his brother Theo died six months after him; a lot of the blues in his paintings have faded, originally, they were purples.

But the real surprise on our trip was the Moco Museum. We hadn’t even heard of it until we arrived in Amsterdam and were walking around Museumplein aka Museum Square:

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And with signs advertising Banksy and Salvador Dalí how could we not step inside?

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Me + Bicycles Don’t Mix

You’d probably think I’d be decent on a bicycle. I grew up in Minnesota. I spent the summer I was 15 biking to and from my glamorous job at Taco John’s…and I lived outside of the city limits.

However, I gave up biking when I moved to Minneapolis. Strange, you may say. Isn’t Minneapolis one of the most bike-able cities in the United States? Yes, yes it is. Which means: THERE ARE TOO MANY DAMN BIKES THERE.

So, terrified of crashing into one of the million other students on bikes, I traded in my bike for cute, yet walkable, shoes.

I’ve been walking ever since.

Flash forward to Amsterdam…one of the most bike-able cities in the world. You’d have thought that I learned my lesson in Minneapolis, but no. What did I want to do in Amsterdam? Go on a bike ride. Apparently I’m a slow learner.

And I didn’t want to just bike around the city. I wanted to bike out to the windmills. And I didn’t want to do it alone: I dragged Chandler and his brother with me.

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Did we end up regretting this decision? Yes, yes we did. I won’t list all of the reasons why biking in the Netherlands isn’t for me (we’d be here all day), but I will give you some of the highlights:

Reason #1: It took me all of about 10 minutes to hit a curb and come crashing down…I never was good at curb jumping.

Reason #2: Do you want to know why people built those windmills in that location? IT IS WINDY. Unreasonably so. There were moments I was pretty sure it’d be faster to walk than to bike.

Reason #3: Scott is the slowest bike rider in the history of bike riding. I’m serious.

Reason #4: The only scenic parts are the parts they bus you out to…the scenery on the actual bike ride is fairly mundane.

But, if forced to find a silver lining, I can actually find two:

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