On Monday, after spending the morning staring at a computer screen in my room, I decided I needed to get out of the house and find some nature. This is somewhat difficult in a country made almost entirely of land reclaimed from the sea, but I figured as long as I wasn’t surrounded by brick, I’d be happy. With this song firmly embedded in my head and a map on my phone, I rallied my fellow Canadian, Beth, and we headed for the ferry terminal.
The website Awesome Amsterdam is an excellent resource for places to go and things to see over here, including easy day trips on your bike, like this one to Waterland! The ferries in Amsterdam are free and most of the routes take less than 5 minutes crossing. Cars aren’t allowed, with the exception of these tiny lawnmower engine ones.
Within about 20 minutes of biking away from the terminal, we were in farmland. It was warm, breezy, quiet and green, green, green.
City girls that we are, we stopped for a while to squeal over a field full of lambs. Did you know that they won’t come when they’re called? It’s almost like they don’t care that I want to touch them. While I was busy taking photos, Beth noticed that the farmer was yelling something at us in Dutch, which I assumed meant “stop bothering my animals”, but we quickly found out was actually “there are smaller ones in here!” Going against everything our parents ever taught us about talking to strangers, we raced inside and met two tiny newborn lambs 😍
Floating on a baby animal endorphin rush, we said goodbye and continued on our way.
We had planned to take a different route home, rather than retracing our steps, but the tiny ferry google maps directed us to in Holysloot (😂) only runs in the peak of summer. By this time it was nearing dusk and the clouds of bugs were wearing on our thin city-mouse nerves. We gritted our teeth and headed back the way we came, only allowing ourselves another ten stops for animals and picturesque landscapes. So disciplined.
It was such a beautiful, refreshing way to spend the day, especially since May 4 is Dodenherdenking or Dutch Remembrance Day, which “commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II.” I won the lottery in life as far as peace and freedom are concerned, and it felt appropriate to celebrate that by getting out into the world.
The city holds a huge ceremony in Dam Square every year right outside the Royal Palace. The entire square is packed with people, the Royal Family comes, haunting songs are sung, speeches are made, wreaths are laid; it’s really quite something. At 8:00 sharp, right as the church bells ring, there are two minutes of silence. The experience of standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people in Dam Square, which is usually teeming with noisy tourists, and being able to hear the wings of a single pigeon sent chills through my body.
The day after Remembrance Day in the Netherlands is Liberation Day, which celebrates the end of the Nazi occupation and is basically one big party. Such a great contrast!
Alright. Time for me to get to work and do some reading. Less than a month of classes left!!
❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Possible next daytrip: Amsterdamse Bos