“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt
I have wanted to come to Amsterdam since I was seventeen years old, It took me fourteen years to get here. I first heard about Amsterdam when I booked my first trip to the Bozeman, Montana from Hyderabad, India.I had the opportunity to go on a Europe trip in college with friends, but I put it off as I was shocked by the idea of backpacking. It was synonymous to homelessness in my mind; I couldn’t imagine carrying my things around everywhere and staying in hostels. Life is strange that way, things I thought were absurd and would never do when I was in my 20’s are my favorite hobbies now like camping, hiking, backpacking, and canning! I just needed to try them out with an open mind and be ready for those experiences.
Sometimes what we wish for don’t happen no matter how much you want them to when the time is not right. But when the time is finally right, everything falls into place. I have been ready for Amsterdam for 14 years, but Amsterdam was not. It took multiple attempts to get here finally. It feels surreal being here.
This visit is special as I am meeting Marlies. I met Marlies on Camino Frances hike three years ago; I knew I would see her again in Amsterdam when we parted ways. Three years later I saw her and explored the city with her; It feels as though we never missed a beat. We spent the day going to Van Gogh Museum where Marlies shared bits of history and her life as we walked the halls. We had a leisurely lunch at an Italian deli recommended by her daughter. We got plates of food, coffee, and chocolate cake. I loved sitting in the little attic balcony of the restaurant and swapping stories; I wanted the time to slow down. We later enjoyed a boat ride through the famous canals where Marlies pointed to me where her sister and daughter lived and her favorite spots. She walked me back to my place, and we had a cup of tea and said our goodbyes. I am glad I have one more day with her.
Later on, I went to my remote workspace at WeWork Amsterdam and found that there was a lively party in the middle of my workspace. It was a bit odd not to know anyone and work while the Dutch people my age partied. An entrepreneur who rents space there won an award for his startup, and it was a celebration for his team and his friends. After a few hours, the founder offered me a beer and an invitation to join them. I drank coffee as they had their beers, they were shocked.
At 10:30 pm they decided they were going out for food and invited me to join. One of the marketing ladies offered me a ride on her bike, to the pub they were going to. She explained to me that Dutch ride their bikes home even after a night of partying, biking is a way of life. If you didn’t own at least one bike, you are missing out. I was terrified and prayed that I would survive that ride, it was too scary to be sober. It was nice to hang out with the Dutch ladies and hear stories about dating life, work culture, marriage views and tech culture. They were warm, welcoming; I said goodbye to them at midnight to walk back to my home . They assured me it was safe and that everyone was going to be out and loud until 2 am. I made it back home safe, and they were true, I saw the city lanes buzzing with bikes, laughter, and people sitting outside. It seems Dutch sit outside and drink even when it’s freezing; heavy rain is the only thing that keeps them inside the restaurants. I had fun today and am glad I took this time to see friends and explore this beautiful city. I am already in love with its canals, biking, youthful energy, food and all sorts of visitors.