This is a blog post by Morgan Brown

Ik Leerde Sommige Dingen Deze Week

So, you’re sitting in this Greek restaurant in a suburb of Amsterdam built on top of an artificial island. It’s maybe 21:00. You’re there because the cool greek dudes that you and your Russian travelmate have been staying with have invited you. Before this moment, you had been “laid-out” in a coffeeshop near the Red Light District, so maybe the food has been tasting a little extra good, but you know that it is actually really good too…somehow. In typical Greek fashion (apparently), the wine is *flowing *and the food is plentiful. There’s one dish on the table that is like delicious soft meat stuffed inside pastry dough and you can’t get enough. There’s live traditional Greek music playing in the background. You’re feeling quite alright. Across the table from you are two ladies, one middle-aged and the other in her late 30s. They both speak Russian, so your travelmate has been chatting it up with them on and off. You’re hearing Russian, Greek, and English. It’s kind of confusing, but cool. The younger lady across from you asks if you have taken shrooms or had any marijuana. Truthfully, you and your travelmate reply "Yes". Both of the ladies burst out laughing and say something confirmatory like “Yes, isn’t it nice?” The younger lady goes on to urge her Greek boyfriend “We should do shrooms sometime!” You find yourself a bit perplexed that you just spoke so frankly about drugs with "adults". You loose yourself just a bit. Behind these ladies you find the Dutch suburban landscape. The artificial canal just outside the restaurant reflects the light from the windows of a minimal, yet modern brick apartment building. You know the inside of these apartments must be nice because the simple exterior of your Greek hosts’ suburban apartment belied it’s modern and functional interior. You think that the Dutch really have something going with their apartments. And maybe their lifestyle. It seems so effortless. It’s easy to live well. But you actually don’t really know. Coming back to the food and the music and the people you enjoy the rest of your time chatting and consuming. You finish your time at the restaurant by smoking a joint with your Greek friend’s father, a middle-aged Sopranos-don-like character. And then, you take the tram to the Red Light District…

  • Saxony is the only province to celebrate "Buß und Bettag", which is called “Penance Day” in English. We had no school that day. Our professor told us that some people call it “Putz und Fegtag” as a joke, which means something like cleaning and sweeping day.
  • I thought Prada Marfa was an actual store, but turns out it’s just an art installation. It’s existence is being threatened by the authorities.
  • Greeks told me that Greek hospitality is excellent and I have to agree. It is perhaps unparalleled. They really, really, really, make sure you are comfortable. Like REALLY. It’s great.
  • The Dutch train ticket machines out in Veenendaal don’t take cash! It was credit/debit/atm card only. This would normally be my kind of thing, but my card didn’t work with the machines :(
  • Still not sure about the foreigners not being allowed to go into coffeeshops after New Years thing. Some German friends told me that they have been saying this for years now. Maybe this is a good way to continuously stimulate tourism.
  • “Malaka” is a Greek word that means something like “jerk-off” or "wanker". It’s used very often kind of as a term of endearment and as an insult depending on the context.
  • Dutch is pretty easy to get once you know some German. “Friday” = “freitag” = "vrijdag"; “forty-eight” = “achtundvierzig” = "achtenveertig". And when it’s not like German, it’s like English sometimes. “This is station” = "dit is station"; “train” = “trein” (in German, “Zug”) A lot of the basics are very similar. What’s weird is that Dutch has an intonation similar to English, so it sounds like you’re listening to English but the words are like German.
  • The Netherlands has a history of creating artificial islands. The aforementioned Greek restaurant is on this one.
  • Love me some Albert Heijn, which is the prominent grocery store in Amsterdam.
  • It snowed in Dresden. And now it’s really cold. Ugh. I’m not designed for this.

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