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It’s almost 7pm on Sunday and I am exhausted. The last few days have been tiring. Great, but tiring. Here’s a quick review of the last four days. Hopefully recounting it all doesn’t take the last dose of energy I have left.

Thursday

After our last conference call of the day, my colleague and I hopped in his car around 7pm and headed off to Germany for a meeting there the following day. The drive was to take about two and a half hours, but thanks to the lack of traffic and the autobahn we made it in under two hours. Top speed was 220 km/h (137 mph) and man do cars come up fast at that speed! But it was fun and all part of the adventure.

Being that this was my first trip to Deutschland we stayed at a hotel in Dusseldorf rather than the one around the corner from our office. Once we were checked into the hotel and freshened up, we took a taxi to Altstadt (Old Town) for a late dinner and drinks. The meal was traditional German, followed by what I can only describe as an ale house where they brew and serve their own beer. Only their own beer. A guy walks around with a tray full of beer, drops them on your table whether you’re ready for a fresh one or not, and puts a tick mark on your coaster to count how many you’ve had and to tally at the end.

First beer in Germany

German feast

Uerige Brewery

It was still a quick trip as I was back in Amsterdam Friday night, but it was nice to get to see more than just the hotel/office/airport.

Saturday

The skies were blue and the sun was shining. Saturday was not a day to spend inside. After a quick trip to the grocery store then fixing some breakfast, I grabbed my bike and headed out.

Chocomel at Vondelpark

My destination was Vondelpark since I hadn’t made it past the gates and into the park yet. After a few minutes riding on the park paths, I stopped at a cafe, ordered a hot chocolate, and found a nice table in the sun.

Just as I was heading back home a friend called and asked if I wanted to go for a ride to Zaanse Schans, an authentic little Dutch town with working windmills. Why, of course I do! I’d read about this place before and it was on my list so a bike ride on a sunny day seemed like the perfect time to visit. We met up around 12:30 and caught the ferry from Centraal Station to NDSM Wharf.

NDSM from the water

The wharf is an old, out of service shipyard. But rather than razing the building to make way for something new, the Dutch instead turned it into an artist loft space and… a skatepark! We walked around the grounds for a while taking photos and enjoying the sunny scene then started making our way to Zaanse Schans.

The ride there was a bit of an adventure as we relied on Google Maps via BlackBerry, but we eventually made our way. The area was really cute and it was cool to see these working windmills and countryside. Since the ride took a bit longer than anticipated, we didn’t go into any of the buildings or do the touristy things so I may have to make another trip there to see inside the windmills. The ride was somewhere around 20 miles round trip. Not bad on a Dutch bike with no gears. Thank goodness Holland is flat!

Zaanse Schans

Windmills!

Sunday

Which brings us to today, Sunday. Again it was a beautiful day and the sun was once again shining. Today I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I’d known it since around 1:00 Saturday when I heard the sounds of wheels on masonite. I wanted to go to the skatepark. For some reason I decided to pack my skates along the few possessions I brought across the pond and I’m glad I did.

After a slow start to the morning, I finally made my way back to NDSM and the skatepark. It’s a great park with nice features and well taken care of. Of course, being in a new place, new park, new people, and not having even put my skates on for more than a year I was extremely nervous. It took a few minutes to shake the nerves and even longer to get some of the muscle memory back. The worst part was how out of shape I felt after just a few minutes of getting familiar with the ramps. Fortunately it started coming back slowly and I had a great time. I lasted somewhere around 90 minutes which isn’t bad for the first time back. I’ll definitely go to the skatepark there again and also want to check out the miniramp at Museumplein which looks really fun.

After 20 miles on my bike and 90 minutes of skating I’m whooped. Pooped. Exhausted. Beat. Tired. I can feel it through my whole body and even in my eyes as I stare at this bright screen in an otherwise dark room. I guess that means it’s time to relax for a while before another work week begins. On Thursday night I head to Budapest, Hungary which I’m extremely excited about. Rather than arriving Thursday, working Friday, then coming home Friday night I decided to extend my trip an extra day. So Friday night and Saturday I’ll be exploring Budapest and will tell you all about it in my next post.

Have a wonderful week all and wish me luck on this next, new adventure!

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