First here’s some things that maybe you already know about, but I didn’t:
1. Everyone is giants. I wasn’t sure if I was being sensy about it or what, but everywhere we went, we were “the short people”. I just read about it and found out that the average Dutch adult (not man but adult, which includes girls and the occasional little person) is 6’1”. So many of them were taller than that. Coupled with their lack of concern for personal space, this was truly a small (get it?) culture shock.
2. Bicycles. You know outside of Via, where there’s about 100 bikes in 40 feet and they’re packed in so close that you can’t imagine trying to get one out? Every block of every street is like that. And they have these bicycle/scooter lanes that aren’t just a little part of a real street that’s marked off, like here, but is it’s own little road. Everyone rode bikes.
3. Prostitutes. I mean, the red light district: you kind of know about it, until you’re there, and there’s these girls in their underpants dancing in their windows, and it’s weird. Then you go to a bar and the guy in the next booth is getting a handjob from a weird old girl.
Some other fun things that happened were the janever bar, where we tried so many flavors of gin, with names like “water of my aunt” and “nectar of aphordite”. They come in tiny glasses (I might have borrowed some from the bar, they were really cute and little) and you can drink about a million of them**.
We went shopping a little, buying presents mostly from grocery stores and markets. We had our pictures taken in giant wooden shoes, and danced to American music in clubs. We learned about Zwarte Piet (“Black Pete”) the black faced friend of Sinterklass who helps bring presents on a boat (we saw him on tv and in stores a lot too. More than we saw actual black people).
We took the trams everywhere, and held kittens and ate Nether-food and hung out with Shayna and Megan, who were best-ever hosts, with the nicest house, and the comfiest beds.
Maybe I'll give you some more stories too, later.
*theory: having been subjected to a high amount of radiation in recent months, I now emit certain rays that cause certain small electronics to quit working – mostly digital cameras, iPods, and baby computers.
**Unless you’re Marilyn, who got very sick from the gin, and had to postpone her return to America.