“If you’ve lived in a place for a week, you’ll write a book.
If you’ve lived in a place for a month, you’ll write an article.
If you’ve lived in a place for a year, you’ll realize you don’t have a clue.”
I heard this quote last week, and literally laughed out loud because of how ridiculously true it is in my life.
The longer I live in Europe, the longer I interact with different cultures and attempt to struggle my way through a new language, the longer I study a topic and interact with professionals who have dedicated their entire lives to this fight, the more I realize how little I really know. If you’ve noticed my blog posts getting a bit more sparse during the last month, I can’t just blame busy-ness alone. A huge part of my hesitation to write was this sense of…uncertainty. I suddenly began realizing the consequences of throwing knowledge and information carelessly into cyberspace when I’m in no way a professional.
I have, however, found another source of writing inspiration this week in the form of very unexpected blessings. Many of you know that after completing the Shine Seminar, I had planned to immediately jump into a 6-week internship here in Amsterdam. To my surprise, I found out two weeks ago that we would be given a week off in between these two–meaning we could travel! Ben and I scraped our pennies together and spent a lovely five days getting a little taste of Switzerland and Italy. What a dream!
With those additions, we’ve actually had the privilege of seeing five countries in the past four weeks–crazy!! For anyone who’s interested, I thought I would highlight our favorite parts of each experience and throw in a few photos as well. 🙂 Enjoy!
Since we didn’t know we’d have a whole week off later in the month, we took advantage of a three-day weekend to visit family up north. What a relaxing way to spend a few days. We loved meeting relatives, enjoying the beautiful view of the fjords, and seeing a few historical sights. I think Ben’s favorite part was definitely making Norwegian coffee up on the hillside, which involved among other ingredients a wood stove and juniper branch. I think we both would have loved to stay there for a month, hiking and camping our way through the beauty. One day we’ll be back!
On a whim, we took a day trip to Antwerp, Belgium, which was only two hours from Amsterdam by train. Pretty much the only thing we spent our money on here was food–eating at the first waffle house in Antwerp, trying Belgian chocolates, and snacking on Belgian frites, or fries. We also loved wandering around the city, seeing old castles and stumbling into one of the most lovely cathedrals we’ve seen so far in Europe. Since we didn’t make it past the Dutch-speaking section of Belgium, we could still even use our few words of Dutch we’ve picked up so far to communicate.
Originally we had mourned the fact that we would be in Europe without a good opportunity to visit the Alps and bring Ben back to his Swiss-German roots. So when we found out we had the week off, we decided to stop over for a day on our way through to Italy. Surprisingly, we ended up seeing quite a bit in 24hrs! Our favorite part was definitely taking the train along Lake Geneva and up into the mountains to the top of Rochers de Naye. The views were even more incredible than we had anticipated., and we even got a free meal of Swiss cheese fondue along with our train ticket, which was amaaazing. That evening we explored the city of Geneva for a few hours, and headed to Venice the next morning.
It’s official: I was born in the wrong country. Already I have discovered what Ben is calling my “Italian soul,” and completely fell in love with this beautiful country. We spent four delightful days in Venice, walking the narrow streets, sitting along canals, and stopping for an espresso or scoop of gelato whenever we felt like it. Describing what it was like doesn’t’ even really feel like it can do it justice. So here are just a bunch of pictures to help you get a good idea!
Yes, this still counts as a country. 🙂 Mostly because, when we got back this weekend, we had the opportunity to explore some of the gorgeous farmlands and dikes by bike with some new friends. It was the day after Ascension (which is a national holiday weekend here), so we also enjoyed some traditional Dutch street foods and watched the town’s annual tug-of-war competition that evening. The small villages of the Netherlands are so different from Amsterdam, it really does feel like visiting another country in some (wonderful) ways. Here are a few photos from our bike ride, including a pull-it-yourself ferry across the canal!
Well, that’s all from us for now. I’m still getting my languages mixed up now and then, so I’ll just say…Dank u wel, grazi, takk, merci, ciao!