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A Four-Day Trip: Amsterdam and Belgium

July 2023: Quick detour

It's not every day that you find yourself zigzagging through the cultural and historical landscapes of Amsterdam and Belgium, but July 2023 did just that. The journey was spontaneous—much like the essence of my being—beginning under circumstances. As always, I continue to learn and enrich from unique experiences.

Day 1: From Disappointment to Discovery

The day kicked off with an unexpected twist. As I met my friend Matteus, who lives in the UK, we walked to a lunch spot in Belgium, just besides the main bus station, navigating through streets tangled in the web of construction. Just before this, a cab guy had taken me to buy some things, and it really seemed that I am in a different place altogether. While walking to the lunch place, I was hit with news that would usually dampen spirits: the job offer I was anticipating had been revoked. This wasn't new to me, but the sting was always sharp. Ironically, as I was on the call, we had reached the lunch place, and both the news, and the first beer of the trip arrived exactly at the same time. Nevertheless, we started the trip with good food, fries and meat based cream dish. Taking a bus, we headed towards Amsterdam, checked into our hotel. We took a hotel near the main square, which is advisable. Architecture is quite different and sharp and you realize it quickly in Amsterdam. Also, it is truly a cycle city, as every hotel were offering their own cycles. Next stop was to embrace the city's vibrant café culture. Every cafe was full of people just enjoying food, wine and the lovely outside at that time of the year. The main square and surrounding areas seemed to be mostly full of young people, perhaps most of them being tourists. Also, most definitely, everyone smoking the famous things there was definitely a tourist, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Post dinner, we walked to infamous red light district. There is something to be said and acknowledged about an army of horny men walking around. That place was just filled with men and more men and more men. However, the overall atmosphere was friendly and lively, till 2am, it being Europe.

Day 2: Cycling, Conversations, and Cultural Reflections

The morning greeted us with Amsterdam's signature breakfast, at a place called locals, with pancakes and pastries, a prelude to the day's adventure. We had to get our hands on a cycle to embracing the city's culture, which is why we pedaled our way to a nearby town, Markel, the ride itself an exhilarating blend of exhaustion and excitement. Town was around 25km each side through the large farms and lakes. We saw some small cozy little lake houses, which were filled with people drinking on our return. It was quite hot that day and diving into a river there was refreshing, as was the intriguing conversation with a waitress about her travels to India—a reminder of the vast diversity in perspectives and experiences that shape us. She disliked the caste system, and it was impossible for me to convince her that it is hardly so anymore in the cities. On our way back, we headed to a shop run by the most dutch man ever, with orange long hair. He was perfectly fit for the job he was doing. We also stopped by at lunch place by the shipping containers called Plekk. It was next to a rave party which was pumping at 5pm when we arrived there. The day wrapped up with our journey to The Hague, where we checked into a hotel by the train station.

Day 3: Beach Bliss, Shrooms, and Serenity

The Hague unfolded its charm with a visit to its expansive beach—a serene contrast to the bustling city life. I started the day by writing a mail to the company who had revoked the offer. Breda, amidst the sun and sand, we indulged in shrooms, swam, walked extensively, and found moments of meditation. The only thing I remember was having absolutely a total of '0' thoughts during the experience. Everything was serene and quite, very different from my earlier experiences. Atlantic was nice and cold for a refreshing swim. The other strange thing I noticed were the crows. I could swear that they croak differently. Also, the general art around the beach was, perhaps modern. It was just amazing. Apart from the beach, there was nothing much to do. Moving on to another city, Breda, we stumbled upon a beautiful campus town. From the train station, we entered into a beautiful forest/ garden which was only full of students. With the weather, everyone was outside and really having a very peaceful time. Living in Dubai, I had kind of forgotten the simple pleasures of just bringing your mat at a garden and just sit, look around and talk. From the garden, we walked through a shopping street, filled with cute little shops to reach our very difficult to find bnb. It really is amazing on how small the houses are whenever you travel to Europe in general, and they just seem to appear out of nowhere. We came out for dinner somwhere in the main square and some beer. The night life was quite for being a college time, or perhaps we did not know any better.

The Hague beach art
Small college town breda

Day 4: Boundless Beaches and Bittersweet Goodbyes

Our final day began with an attempt thwarted by geography—our proximity to the German border complicating a simple purchase. The city being to close to the German borders did not have the same rule as Amsterdam. Yet, in the spirit of adventure, we found a way through a homeless man's assistance. A city's character can definitely be judged by the way their homeless people live. Breda, did well. Our journey back to Belgium was marked by music, the indulgence in local delicacies like mussels, and a stroll through streets echoing with the complexity of modern society. We walked around the main square, around the main EU head quarters. As promised by Europe in general, there were large squares with some wonderful street music. Did the customary shopping of chocolates, had curry fries and walked around the city. Interestingly, ended in a pub where they served more than a 1000 beers and also hosted a statue of a girl peeing, one of the 3 such statues which have been spread around the city. We were able to find all 3 throughout the night.

Main square in brussels
Statue of the peeing girl

Reflections on a Journey Unplanned

This four-day trip was a testament to the unpredictable nature of life—an intertwining of personal setbacks, cultural explorations, and the simple joy of new experiences. From the disappointment of job uncertainties to the liberating bike rides through Amsterdam, the tranquil moments on the beaches, and the reflective walks in both bustling and serene settings, many moments were worth remembering. Which is exactly how it should be.

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