Sunday, December 28, 2014

The pit stop to Amsterdam + my top 10 I have learned while being here...

Hey guys-

So, we landed in Amsterdam yesterday morning and it has been a world wind of fun already!! This was a planned stop when we started planning this trip many moons ago! My friend Lacey, who I am traveling with had never been to Europe before, so knowing that I told her it was a must stop! Mike our friend and (aka body guard) was game for it too! You see in order to get to Africa you typically pass through a European airport - so this time we were passing through Amsterdam and I checked to see if the cost of the flights would change any if we stayed for a few days - and it didn't at all!! So it was a must book for us! 
(This is me flying from New York to Amsterdam...the spells of bad B.O. Over took the plane and I just couldn't handle it! So I used the eye mask the airline passed out - as a nose cover! Clever right?! Well desperate times call for desperate measures! Please excuse the puff eyes I have in this picture - it's horrible but lack of sleep will do that!) 

Any way - back to Amsterdam! I like to think of Amsterdam as the New Orleans of Europe!! Lots of craziness going on here, but still it's a beautiful city and lots of things to do (even if you decide to skip the red light district and so called "coffeeshops"!)

For your humor here is my top 10 things I have learned while in Amsterdam!! 

1. You will see a "coffee shop" on every block...literally!!! Please remember this - it's not a coffee shop like us Americans would think!! Yesterday as I was about to open the door to one of these to purchase a real cup of coffee and noticed an odd sign that read "no hard drugs in here!" I was confused and noticed by looking Into the Windows it was indeed a place to smoke pot! I knew pot was legal in Amsterdam but didn't know that the shops were called "coffee shops"! 

2. Amsterdam has some amazing museums - two of them I got to visit - the Anne frank museum (which add that to your bucket list - it's a must!!) and the van gogh museum! I highly suggest, but just purchase tickets in advance because the lines are longing that a ride in Disney world and you can literally wait all day! We pre-purchased them before the trip and didn't have to wait in line at all!! So, just like they have amazing museums they have some very odd ones - and the therapist in me is interested in the people who may visit these! So here are a few odds ones - The Torture museum (yes I wrote that correctly - this is on the history of torture!), next odd one was The Prostitution museum (yes this career path is legal in Amsterdam and they think it's worthy of a museum), and another interesting one The purse and handbag museum (while I love a good purse or handbag - spending the day in a museum touring them?!  I don't think so!) . So we pasted these up, but should you ever be interested in those above museums they are in Amsterdam! 

3. Amsterdam has got to be the world capital of bicycles!!! Everyone rides bikes! There are bikes, bikes, and more bikes! Parking garages for bikes!! More bikes than I think people!! It's the only place I have been to that it's cool for a guy to ride what we call in the states a "grandma bike with a large basket attached!" My husband would never be caught riding these in the states, but in the Netherlands it's completely normal! 

4. They have waffles along with every kind of topping at every corner also!! They are a must and one of the most delicious things I have ever tested!! I 
seriously couldn't stop eating them! 

5. Watch where you are walking because motorist will run you over! Seriously! Whether it's a bike, motorbike, or car - move out the way because they are speeding by on those brick roads! Also, they have lots of electric vehicles and vehicles that are actually smaller than this one! Don't every expect to see a pick up truck in Amsterdam! It's not like in Louisiana where guys drive big trucks - no in Amsterdam they ride bikes with baskets! 
(This one is charging up!!) 

6. We never saw a policeman! It is either really safe or they let the people run wild! Seriously - I am traveling with my friend mike who is an investigator / officer in the states and he was amazed by this! You never see them! In a city of thousands upon thousands - they are no where around! By the way, we felt extremely safe in the Netherlands!! 

7. The bathroom situation is ever interesting! If you are out and about in the city you either have to pay to use a public bathroom (for example - if you are in a shopping center and need to use the bathroom you have to pay .50 euros and some 1 euro - which is between .80 cents to $1.20 in US dollars!) Also, they have public restrooms in the middle of busy intersections for guys to use - basically it's a john - in the middle of the city and yes everyone could see! So, that's the free option - if you don't want to pay! 

8. No advertisements / media blasting! In America you just can't escape the media! Whether it's television blasting in airports across the United States or huge billboards along side busy interstates - you just don't see those kinds of things in  the Netherlands! And that's a breathe of fresh air! 

9. In the dead of winter in The Netherlands you can never (I repeat never) have too much clothes on!! Layer, layer and then layer some more! I looked about 20 lbs over weight in each photo , but seriously I was still cold! When it's rainy, snowy and windy - it's nice to have 6 layers! 

10. All the cultures in one place mixed together is quite amazing!! When I am in Europe - I can't quite soak up enough of it!!! I love that I can stand in line at Starbucks and speak to a sweet lady from the United States, then order dinner at a restaurant and speak to a woman who is from Bali, and then have a taxi cab driver from Camaroon, Africa! Seriously, that makes life so interesting!! When you from a city like Thibodaux, Louisiana where people are born and died there and never leave - experiencing this is amazing and it just never gets old to me - no matter how much I travel!! I love how creative God was with this beautiful world he created and I love all the diversity in it! 

...and one more for kicks! Amsterdam radio loves to play old school American music!! It's nothing to hear Keith sweat or a little old school country like shawina twane! 

Well that's the recap of Amsterdam! It was a blast, but now on to our work in Uganda! I'll be flying all of Monday, dec 29th- 8 hrs approximately! But, can't wait to share our next part of the adventure! I miss my kiddos and family and coworkers / employees already! I can't quite believe I will be gone from the states for 17 days (well minus a few now!)
(I am typing this as I fly to Uganda - I don't have wifi right now, but once I do - it will post!) 

Thank you all for your support, prayers and love! I can't wait to share these experiences with you! I know we are not all called to serving in Africa, but your prayers and support is just as much a ministry. 

"Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 
Scripture our non-profit - refuge 127 was based off.

(Eating Belgium chocolate covered strawberries in Holland!) 

Love you guys! 


Rhonda said...

Thanks for sharing, God bless, and one day....

vicki melancon said...

Vera that was amazing. You are amazing. I am glad you enjoyed Amsterdam. My husband just got back from Norway a few weeks ago and he said he was told crime is almost non-existent there. Thus the lack of police presence. I assume Amsterdam is the same. Good luck on your trip to Africa. You are a brave soul. Prayers are going your way. God will truly bless you.

Barbara Trosclair said...

Oh my, I am loving the travels through your pictures and words. Prayers to all of you for safe travels and that all goes well. I'm sure they will beyond happy to see y'all when you arrive in Uganda.

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