This weekend was rough. I had my first spell of homesickness. Actually, it was more a feeling of being totally alone and isolated and not having anyone to call, email, or Skype since I’m nine hours ahead of most everyone I know. Saturday was awful. It was raining and very windy, otherwise I would have at least gone and walked around the shopping center. With the weather the way it was I had no desire to step outside. So, I flipped back and forth through the five English speaking channels (you think there’s nothing on cable in the US), found the end of the internet, and napped. I can’t even recall the last time I felt as down in the dumps as I did on Saturday. I would have to say that I’m a fairly independent person and cherish my alone time, but when you want human interaction and can’t get it, it’s rough.
Thankfully I had plans for Saturday night to go out with an expat group I found through Meetup. I’d used this website in the states and had gone on hikes and a few other events with people, but here it’s a great tool to get together with other expats and people who share similar interests. The event on this night was at a bowling alley and about 25 group members showed up. We bowled for 90 minutes, then proceeded to a bar just around the corner for another beer or two. The event was a good time with good people and cured my sorrows of earlier in the day. It was exactly what I needed and I was thankful to have gotten over what I was feeling.
Sunday the weather cooperated. I think it may have been the first time I’ve seen blue sky and sun since I’ve been in Holland. Around 11am I took off and headed for the city. For the first time I took the 5 tram which took me right to the Amsterdam Historisch Museum where I not only spent time wandering through the museum, but I also bought a Museumkaart. For 45 euro I can, for the next 12 months, visit almost any museum or historic site in Holland for no additional charge. Not a bad deal at all! I figure it takes away any excuse for me to stay inside on the weekends, especially once I’m living in the city (which I’m still waiting for word on).
Since it was such a beautiful day outside, I made my way through the museum fairly quickly and headed back out with no specific destination in mind. I somewhat followed the tramline I’d taken into the city and intended to end up at Museumplein, then catch the tram back home. The walk was great and I stumbled upon a few interesting places.
First was Begijnhof which is the oldest inner court in Amsterdam. The sign above the entrance I happened upon was dated 1574, but according to Wikipedia (which is always right all the time) it actually dates back to the 1300s. It’s basically a grassy area surrounded by homes and a church.
As I weaved my way through the narrow streets and along the canals, I saw a beautiful, dark building across the water. It was De Krijtberg, a church built in the late 1800s with absolutely beautiful stained glass inside. Photos were prohibited so I wasn’t able to snap an image of the inside, but it was pretty spectacular.
The next place to catch my eye had a word I was craving for on Saturday. American! It was a small store that sold all American and British food. Kid’s cereal, Newman’s Own salad dressing, maple syrup, chips, and candy. I didn’t notice the prices nor did I buy anything, but it was funny to find the place. Too bad I didn’t write down the address as I’m sure I’ll get some craving sooner or later.
Finally I ended up at Museumplein as planned. It’s a big square across from the Rijksmuseum which I’d visited in December. The square is basically a open area and park with an ice skating rink for the season, a playground for the kids, basketball courts, and even a miniramp which I can’t wait to play on when it gets a bit warmer.
Between Saturday night and getting out Sunday I felt a lot better than I had to start the weekend. I’m not looking forward to any more of those gloomy depressing days and hope they’re few and far between. On the bright side, it’s motivation to get out and meet people, make friends, and explore. Even just one hour sitting in my apartment bored feels like such a waste of this experience and opportunity, but who has the energy to go-go-go all the time? Not me, that’s for sure!