Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle
There are some times in life that leave us depleted, and other times that fill us back up. For me, this past weekend was one of the latter, when I traveled with one of my closest friends to her native Holland, to Amsterdam. Not only did we have the little break to refuel and refresh, but we had a time of rich experiences and near-constant laughter. It was an experience I will always cherish, never forget.
I loved so many things about Amsterdam: the frequent canals, hoards of bikes, clanging bells, rumbling boats, Western-style shops and people and service.
My most favorite thing about Amsterdam? The spirit of a country at ease and also at work. So much history, everywhere, a solid past and a promising future. The Dutch spirit seemed to be written everywhere, of freedom, and hard work, and a friendly and warm style of going about their daily lives. It was beautiful. Truly.
What surprised me the most: the bikes, more bikes, and bicycles everywhere. I’d been told for years about how moms bike around Amsterdam and Holland with multiple children on their bikes, and with the groceries and everything else they need as well at the same time. I couldn’t imagine it before I saw it. But now I can say I’ve seen it (unfortunately, no photos of these multi-personned bikes). Girls ride on the rack behind the seat, while the guys drive. Delivery men ride with bundles tied down or strapped in to the front of a bike. Kids ride on handlebars, kid seats in front and behind, or in a wide bucket in front of the parent. And bikers balance everything while they ride: a cello, a suitcase or two, bouquets of flowers, etc. It was amazing.
I learned that one of the most important things about relying upon a bike for transport in a very rainy city is to have a plastic bag on hand at all times. There may be no more important role for an ordinary plastic bag than to cover a wet seat after a quick Amsterdam rain.
The best part of the weekend in Amsterdam: a day in the Van Gogh Museum ranks very high, dinners out, coffee beside a quiet canal, a long stroll through the Flower Markets, a canal cruise … but the best part for me was the company, the laughter. It is a gift to have a friend to enjoy an adventure alongside. I am grateful. For laughter with friends is one part of life that replenishes deeply. The time in Amsterdam was a splendid vacation.
Question for you: Have you been to Amsterdam? What was your favorite part?