I splattered into The Flying Pig Hostel out of the Amsterdam rain and frantically looked around for Stephanie, my travel buddy flavor of the week.

She flew from L.A. to join me on a real lala-dventure through my next 5 European lands.

I emerged into the hazy reception area and slammed directly into her, equally soaked and giddy- we were ready to wring each other out with excitement. Our timing was impeccable. Effortless harmony.

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Eyes open our first morning and we enthusiastically agree we need our butts on bikes ASAP. Dodging trams and tourists, taking turns down canals, we catch up on life while we laugh and lust over the lopsided, narrow buildings that define Amsterdam. Twenty-four hours in The Netherlands and I’m already boasting about my vast historical knowledge: “The reason the buildings are so narrow is since when they were first built, the real estate along the canal was crazy valuable, so the country charged for property by width..” I explained. “So the Dutch people just said fuck it ‘Oh well’ and made the skinniest homes ever.”

They built up instead of out. This city has always been about getting higher.

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The next day we saddle up on our bikes and go for a long ride through the Dutch countryside. Pedaling past windmills and hidden tulip gardens until we stumble on a cheese and clog making factory. Cheese. And. Clogs. We end up getting an impromptu private tour where we witness both cheese making and clog whittling. It was informative and fascinating and dutch appreciated.

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Our last morning we spend at the Anne Frank House. I cry silently for an hour while I wander the tiny, dark rooms where she and her family spent two years in hiding. I watched videos of Anne’s dad discuss what it was like to find out his whole family was dead. Blown up on the walls I read 13-year-old Anne’s words.. privately journaled but universally absorbed by people from all around the world today. Helping us understand what it was like for this child, and millions like her, to spend those years of their lives questioning everything they believed they knew about the world and it’s goodness. I thanked God for my family and friends and for our good fortune.

 

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