About three years back, in 2009, I took a trip to western Europe with my brother, the Freak. The Freak and I first travelled to London to crash at our friends’ pad. Next we railed it to Salisbury where we toured a local cathedral, market, and Stonehenge as well as Wardour Castle. Our friend Leslie showed us these sights in record time, and then drove us to Bristol in order to fly to Amsterdam. It was my second time in Amsterdam and the Freak’s first.
The first time I was in Amsterdam, in 2003, it was my last chosen stop before heading home to New York. I had been living and teaching English in Japan and spent many days in museums with Melissa. This time around with the Freak, we walked for endless hours, checked out landmarks like Centraal Station, watched boats and bikes cruise by, and observed locals and tourists in their routines. Peering at houses reflected against iconic canals, we took our time took it easy.
We stayed at the Flying Pig hostel near Vondelpark and shared a bunk bed, but on our last night moved to a hotel with a large aquarium in the lobby. To save money we ate fast food from Maoz, automated machines, and a takeout Asian joint. The only major museum we checked out was the Van Gogh. We met new friends from England, Holland, Spain, and a New York couple who’d gotten a free flight over from NYC.