The Netherlands: The End

Day 10.7

Thursday, April 22, 2010

So far so good, and I’m actually feeling pretty positive about going out tomorrow.  The skies are still problematic but some flights are leaving and the situation gets better every hour, so, fingers crossed.

Today, we decided to hit our last museum (or what I hope is our last museum) and head over to the Historich Museum.  It’s a positively massive complex, and had we tried it earlier in the trip we probably could have spent the whole day there.  Fortunately, the museum itself understands how intimidating such a huge and sprawling collection can be, so they offer a “highlights” tour that guides people through the rooms to the most important/impressive exhibits.  I still got sidetracked by other cool exhibits and we wound up seeing a little more than just the “highlights,” but it was a nicely abbreviated tour through Dutch history and an interesting way to recap so much of what we’ve already seen so far.

Afterward, we left the rest of the day open, trying to keep things as relaxed as we can (we’re on the edge of our proverbial seat, ready to leave tomorrow but anxious about the flight situation, so we have to sort of force ourselves into leisure), and we strolled down to the Liedseplein just to see the sights.  We’d been through this area a lot in our criss-crossings of the city, and we like the neighborhood quite a lot—it’s heavy on art and antique shops and so a bit out of our price range, but it also has a nice mix of cheap eateries and pleasant cafes, and this is an area where a lot of impromptu street performers like to hang out, so there’s always something to see.  Today, we saw a group of trick cyclists performing outside a café, for instance, and we paused on a small canal bridge to watch them.  Then we popped into the Little Buddha sushi bar for a late lunch (Jennifer discovered she really likes sushi, and I’m thinking of trying to make it when we get back home) before heading back to our room to pack and wait out the last of our trip to Amsterdam.

9:47 pm


Day 10.END

Friday, April 23, 2010

We’re out!  We’re on our way home!  At long, long last.

I loved our trip to The Netherlands and this whole travel fiasco has done nothing to dampen those affections or put us off returning some day in the future.  Sometimes, when travel seemed its most hopeless, I even looked into what it would take to stay and work in The Netherlands!  But we are indescribably relieved to have snapped free of this limbo, like a shuttle escaping gravity, and we’re looking forward to our own home, our own meals, and most of all our cats.

Time: in the air, on the way home…..


Today

Looking back, I find it remarkably easy to separate the stress of waiting and wondering and hassling airlines from the pleasure of wandering the Amsterdam streets, the ease of sitting in cool leafy parks or cobblestoned little squares, the general joy of The Netherlands.  While there remains this kind of mental wall dividing Day 10 from Day 10.1, our planned vacation from our forced stagnation, this division is confined solely to the phone calls, the long airport lines, the hours scouring the Internet for alternate travel options.  When we retreated from all that hectic stress and went to a park or a museum or a cafe, we were still very much aware of our predicament, but in my memory those moments belong to the pleasant side of the divide, and I will always be glad (and a little proud of us) that we were able to make what we could of a long, nerve-wracking situation.

Still, the best moments remain on the vacation side of the line:  I will always cherish the thrill of discovering family history in the Central Bureau of Genealogy in The Hague and the wonder of retracing family origins in Hoorn.  I will always recall the thrill of seeing some of the most famous art in world, particularly the the Vermeers, the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts, and the Eschers, in person.  I will always think fondly of quiet afternoons in cafes or in the park, the cool breeze cutting through the warm sun.  I will forever be grateful to our wonderful B&B host, Irene; our big, comfortable room upstairs felt like a home away from home even before we needed a home away from home, and when we got stranded, she did everything she could to make us feel welcome.  And I will try to carry with me the casual hipness of Amsterdam, though I’m sure I’ll never be able to really carry it off.

To borrow a phrase from Chandler Bing:  Holland loves the Snoek-Browns, thank you Amsterdam, good-night!

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

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