From the quiet and dreamy West Country with its hills and orchards, I ventured back into busier environments at the end of April.
It seems like a long way away now, although it only just happened a few weeks ago. I was back in London for a couple of days but was not sorry to leave it behind me. This city is just too huge and scary for a country girl like me.
A short flight took me to Amsterdam, where I met a very dear old friend.
Vanja is one of the most hospitable souls that I know. Her place in Amsterdam is tiny, but she was sharing it not only with a (lovely!) roommate, but also with me and my friends during the almost two weeks that I stayed there and you could not wish for a more welcoming and accommodating host.
On our first evening together we discovered an absolutely adorable African restaurant and chatted until long after midnight. We felt like best friends even though we hadn’t seen each other in about five years!
The next day, I took the train to Texel in the North of the Netherlands for a few days. It was nice to leave city life behind again and I’ll tell you about my island adventures in the next post.
On the Saturday after my return to Amsterdam I picked a very special friend up from the airport. Tali and me were friends back in Switzerland when we met through couchsurfing and lived across the street from each other. Before she left to go back to Brazil we traveled to Amsterdam together and so it felt super special to meet up in the same city four years later!
Tali’s friend Hana, who lives in Amsterdam at the moment, joined for the welcome party.
We spent out days exploring the city, going on girly shopping tours, discovering fun street art, and of course chatting chatting chatting.
In the mornings I would meditate, do yoga and exercise in the park with Vanja, spend the days hanging around the city with Hana and Tali, and then we’d all have cookouts together in the evening.
Vanja made her amazing avocado chocolate pudding, we experimented with vegan mac and cheese, and many other yummi things!
Sometimes, a pic nic in the middle of a busy square in town was also in order.
(I didn’t eat the kitty, of course. But it used to sneak into Vanja’s house in search of treats!)
I did realise a lot about how food is such a lovely way to connect. I used to think of it as a drawback because social eating (and drinking) is sometims hard to combine with eating healthy and control your portions. But if we shift perspective and are creative, the bonding experience that a lovely (healthy and clean) meal provides, and the energy that consciously sharing a meal creates is amazing.
Amsterdam is not Amsterdam without bikes of course. It’s such a big part of why I love this place so much! So one sunny sunny day, Tali and me set out on a countryside tour, exploring the outskirts of the city. We hoped to see tulip fields, but sadly it was already a bit too late in the year for that. Biking along the canals and into the green, meeting baby lambs and goats on the way was not too bad though!
We stopped for lunch in a lovely tiny restaurant where we lounged around on the terrace for ages, enjoying the sun and chatting, eating lovely salad.
The little old town that we reached at the end of our trip was just dreamy, it even had a castle.
It was a long way back into town, but we found some tulips finally…
And made it back just in time for a lovely (if a little bit chilly) pic nic with everybody in one of Amsterdam’s big parks. There was a festival going on, so we hit the stalls for some crepes tasting and music afterwards. I’m so grateful for all the lovely weather we had during out stay, which made every day feel truly special.
Vanja generously agreed to cut my hair (which was really necessary), and spent a good couple of hours (plus some youtube researching) giving me the most professional home-haircut I’ve ever had!
It also meant that our dinner was laaaaate, but we managed to keep going until the awesome pancake feast was ready, and we killed time listening to old Swiss children’s songs and watching cartoons from our childhood.
Its almost the same as in January, when I had it done at the hairdressers!
On our last day, we ventured into the library, where we spent a couple of hours reading random books and admiring the most amazing doll (mouse) house ever made!
Seriously, that thing is fascinating! I have no idea how Tali managed to just fall asleep right next to it… must have been overwhelmed by its amazing-ness!
We closed the circle by having dinner at our new favourite African place before Tali and me left for Zurich on the night train. Super lovely evening and we were all really sad that our time together was coming to an end. Of course we are all hoping for the next time!
(With Marise, the most charming host you can imagine!)