Can anyone else believe there's only [fill in your amount of days here] until [the deadline for whatever you have coming up]? I have 10 days before I leave for Italy!
I saw the last movie of 2008 at the OT 301 last night - and what a way to end the year - Guy Maddin double feature! When I first walked in to the OT301, I was in a half-annoyed mood. Annoyed really isn't the right word, but I felt a rant coming on... how is it that I can walk around in a major European city on a Tuesday night at 9.30pm and still not find anything to eat? I literally walked in and out of 2 different supermarkets, 2 different night shops, a few other quick-food type of restaurants, before settling on take out indonesian. Rice, tofu, egg, tempeh - it's not terrible, it was fairly cheap, but still. Why, why can't there just be some fresh bread at the supermarket? Why is 9.30pm such a late time to get a decent dinner?
Anyway, when I entered the OT301, I bought my ticket (4 Euros) to see an amazing movie I've never seen before. I ordered a beer in English (I actually try to do that in Dutch most times, but at this place a lot of people that volunteer don't speak Dutch). The two folks behind the counter started speaking French to each other. French music played in the background. Another group of people came up and started speaking in Spanish. And by the time I had started to eat my food, I was eavesdropping on another conversation going on in Italian. Dutch was being spoken somewhere in the background. Ok, so I have to accept that this is not the city of my dreams in terms of food. But it is a city where I can bring my crappy Indonesian takeout into a legal squat-turned-movie-theater on Tuesday nights, eat it while I drink a 2 euro beer, enjoy the free wireless and sounds of five different languages swirling around me while I waited for my friends.
The wintertime in Amsterdam hasn't really been so bad yet - there's actually some great things you can do during the winter that aren't quite the same during the summer. Like finding an almost empty bruin café in the Jordaan, the type of place that is the very definition of gezellig. It was a small, modest little bar with a beautiful view, and had the perfect atmosphere for a cold winter night. A friend and I each had one drink, sat for about 2 1/2 hours, and were happily left alone to just enjoy our conversation. And even though it seems kind of daunting to ride home at 2am when it's zero degrees (32 fahrenheit), after a couple minutes I had warmed up from cycling as quickly as I could down the Marnixstraat. Only what... four more months to go, before it might start getting warmer again? I think I can handle it. Every so often there's a morning like today, where it's bright and sunny and not that cold, I hear the folks opening their shops call out "good morning" to each other, the tourists walking around seem delighted with all the boats, and things are good. I know I'm lucky that I don't have to wake up and go to work in the darkness, by the time I get out of bed in the morning, the sun is up.
Last night the sky was clear, and on my way home I decided to ride down the Stadhouderskade for fun. That's the road that's under serious construction and while there is a path carved out for bikes, a huge part of that is those big metal-type plates laying on top of sand (the sand that is underneath the street they're ripping up). Seeing stuff like that really blows my mind, I mean, sand! I grew up in the mountains. If you dug a whole in the street of New Paltz, you would not find sand, you would find dirt. Anyway, riding over those boards, on top of sand, in the middle of Amsterdam - that's really surreal. Like being on the beach, except - ok, the sand reminds me of being at the beach, that's really it. I could just as easily avoid the construction and take a different road home, but I like the oddness of that chunk of road, and I love crossing the Amstel over the Mauritskade bridge.
Things are really, really, really busy right now - but with every passing minute I'm more and more in holiday mode. I know these next ten days will fly by, hopefully with lots of fun along the way.