Hello, hungry ones.
It’s been more than a year, and yes, there is no excuse for not keeping this website dormant for that long – but there’s so much that’s happened! Let me fill you in with what happened last year.
1. I got married.
2. I honeymooned.
3. I finally got my Visa for Europe.
4. Went to Amsterdam.
5. Went to The Hague.
6. Had a cross-country road trip (The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain).
7. Lived and became a resident in Spain.
There. That’s just the highlights (and my personal reminder to blog about them). Let us start with numbers 4 and 5 because they entail very little administrative details like filing for visas, notarial services, government officials, and translations.
It’s beautiful, old, and freakin’ cool. And friendly. And also f*ckin expensive.
Flight from Manila to Amsterdam took nearly a day. It was tiring, it’s like being on a hospital shift. We had layovers in Taiwan and Bangkok, which was nice. I enjoyed the layovers, especially the Bangkok leg because I was super-familiar with the airport.
Upon arriving at The Schiphol and taking the train to the Central Station, my husband whipped out a cigarette and started to smoke. I told him off because I thought we were in an air-conditioned room! Turns out it was just really cold and we were outside. I was totally FOTB about all these temperate climate thing lol.
We walked outside to take a cab, and the train station was a total feast for the eyes. It was a beautiful brick building with stone accents. There was a busker there playing piano (surreal). True to my FOTB character, I was amazed that their cabs were Mercedes Benzes and Priuses. And the bicycles. You have to be super attentive while crossing the road because of these bikes. They can run you over and there are a lot!
We checked in to our hotel somewhere, slightly off the centre. Took a Prius cab for it. It was so quiet in the car because, hello, electric engine. Remember this is my first time in The West and it felt surreal for me. It was like Pinterest coming to life! Bourne Identity coming to life! Girl With The Pearl Earring coming to life! I felt so cool.
There were flower shops selling tulips everywhere. The avenues were lined with trees. Bronze statues and monuments were dotting the streets and parks. The Amsterdam canals – they looked so perfect and very… Amsterdam.
One of the things I noticed was the number of Indonesian restaurants, too. This made me feel warm with nostalgia as I lived in Indonesia and subsisted on Nasi Goreng and Soto Mie. It’s so lovely to see them integrate their former colony’s culture in some way, you know?
Of course, one of the things we just had to do is have the coffee shop experience. We are not alien to smoking and I love stoner films so I knew what to expect. What really impressed me was the cafe staff. There’s just one dude manning the entire place. One. In Asia, all restaurants had at least 3 staff: one to take your cash and two waiters, if they wait for the customers at all. He was so fast and efficient as well, so hats off to that dude. Turns out that the low-staff-number-count is the norm here (in Spain they don’t have baggers in the supermarket).
Another thing that surprised me was the shop times. Everything closed after 10pm. That doesn’t happen in Manila, Bangkok, or Jakarta. This is a city that sleeps. So we slept.
The next day we planned to explore and just take pictures. We walked a good 10k for the day just going to the plaza/square, the Red Light District, a huge street market, and getting lost. We had beers and got shocked that it’s €6.50 per pint! It’s La Chouffe, so it was special but still! P350 is A LOT.
Let’s talk about the Red Light District because it’s popular. It’s basically women in lingerie throwing kisses as they stand behind glass windows. There’s peep shows, too. It didn’t feel sleazy, sexy, or tantalising (for me). It was presented in a matter-of-fact way, which is… okay, I suppose.
The next day, Ash had to catch a plane for Birmingham and I had to go to The Hague. We took the tram to the Central Station and because we don’t know how the payment scheme works, we got the ride for free. Lol.
Overall, the Amsterdam experience was really cool. It was my first taste of Europe and really enjoyed exploring the city with my husband – and an added plus, he’s already been there so he knew where to take me! Definitely coming back when we have a chance to!