I have said this before, but it is hard to believe it has been an entire year already. One year ago, I was wrapping up at St. Brendan, still trying to work out visa issues and wondering if I would in fact get to Rome at all!
This morning, as I took my leave of the Eternal City for the summer it was already 30°C (85°F) by 10:00am. By all accounts it has been a relatively mild June, but it is already toasty enough for me. Arriving in Amsterdam a couple hours’ flight north of Rome, it was a much more reasonable 22°C (72°F).
The first thing I saw out the airplane window as we approached the airport was a windmill. Not one of the iconic Don Quixote sort, though, but a modern, white, high tech electricity producer. As for wooden clogs, I did not even have to leave the airport before I encountered a few!
Eveline, a good friend and Dutch theology student who had spent the year at the Lay Centre, was there to greet me and show me around Amsterdam before we left for her university town of Tilburg. This much further north, the days are noticeably longer – more like home. I knew to expect it, but you really cannot prepare for how many bicycles there are in this city! Everyone is on two wheels – kids, parents, professionals in suits/dresses, elderly folk out for a stroll. I can understand why fiets is basically the first Dutch word anyone would learn!
Before Amanda asks, yes, I got to the Van Gogh Museum, but it was closed. Saw the palace, the “new church” (from 1410), various canals, the flower market, Rembrant’s square, ate pannekochen (pancakes) for lunch and Irish pub fare for dinner. Also smelled marijuana wafting through the air at several points on our walk, I got hit on by a guy on a bike, and we overheard a tour guide address his group as they emerged from the red light district: “OK, let’s count everybody. I always lose one of the guys by this point… Hey, where’s Mike? Oh, Hi Mike! Your daughter told me I had to keep an eye on you since she could not come along today!”
Den Haag, Delft, Rotterdam, Maasdam, Tilburg and Den Bosch (with the just-retired Cardinal Kasper) are all on the agenda before heading for home.