So my big journey started yesterday. I was planing for so long to visit Holland that I wasn’t fully realizing that this is actually happening. My dear friend Marlene invited me many times during last few years but of course because we had that visa obstacle it wasn’t that easy going on your own. (not that I’m complaining cause I was travel a lot but that was mostly in group and Holland was never place I’d visit in a group where I would have to follow certain schedule). So now when that obstacle has been removed I thought quite casually “Why not?”. I checked the term with Marlene and purchased the plane tickets but even then it looked like a dream. Then day before yesterday I started to panic because I had to leave the house in three hours and I didn’t even started to pack my things (that should make a picture how realistic this trip looked to me).
I did get seats next to the window (which I asked) but it was above the wing which messed my plans to use my new camera (that I bought for this trip) It’s Canon PowerShot G11 (I’m so happy about it that I had to mention again). I was a little bit worry about the Schiphol airport which is one of the airport with the highest flight frequency. I supposed to get the bus station, buy the right ticket and then catch the right bus with English speaking driver, explain to him where I’m suppose to go so that he can tell me on which station I should wait another bus. During the flight I was reading about Schiphol and was quite calmed down because guide I have, said that’s one of the most users friendly airports and indeed it is. It was extremely easy to find the right direction and right place to pick up the baggage. The custom clerk didn’t make me problems; asked me questions I expected and stamped my passport (thank you Murphy for not applying your law then!!!). I was on the verge to make silly joke when he asked me the purpose of my visit. I thought to say “Birthday party” [30th April is a Queensday which is the birthday of Dutch Queen's mother (which was also the queen)]. But then I’ll be here on Rowena’s (Marlene’s daughter’s) B-Day as well which would be my way out with the clerk.
And then at the Schiphool it was such a huge surprise when I suddenly saw a “MILAN ZZZ” sign!!! (for those who don’t know my nick name on BookCrossing (place where I met Marlene) site is zzz). It was Rowena who hold it and then I saw Marlene’s father (!!!) and Marlene! That was not the plan whatsoever so I was really surprised! And then we started to talk as if we know each other zillion years (which is not far from truth) without any unpleasant “oh-say-something-quickly-to-break-this-silence” moment. We all really clicked perfectly. By the way Marlene’s mother suggested the “Who the fuck is Milan?” sign (alluding on the song with Alice of course) but they didn’t do that. Of course I would just pass beside them without even changing my facial expression (later she said that’s exactly what she would do as well).
We really couldn´t stop to talk and in spite the fact that I didn´t sleep for more than 24 hours I wasn´t feeling tired. In the afternoon I went in walk through Heemstede and it´s such a lovely town indeed. From the air Holland looks exactly like a Farmiville (those who play it on Facebook (which I don’t and don’t send me invitations!) will know what I’m saying). Everything is so ordered in perfect geometry; on the edges are modern windmills and fields of all sorts of things. The town is lovely; the houses are utterly gorgeous the cobbled streets with street lights; amazingly beautiful gardens and the most strange huge windows without curtains or blinds. Of course Dutch aren’t peeking cause they are completely accustomed on that; however I’m not so I had to admit I was looking inside interested about inner decoration. Then I was wondering “Do they ever walk naked through their house?” Not that I was hoping to catch some nudity but I thought in your house you can be relaxed and free to do whatever you want; However in this case it would be as if they are displaying themselves on the streets. The windows are huge almost from the floor to the ceiling and often you can see entire house till the end on the other side.
Everything leaves impression of the rally rich country. I visited lots of places and in most of them I thought “Oh this could be nice to do in Serbia” however I don’t see Serbia anywhere near to this. Sadly. (will post some pics about neighborhood later).
Today (2nd day) was absolutely lovely with no clouds. I went to Marlene’s parents on the coffee and to meet them of course. They are fantastic! I love their humour and it really relaxed me totally (well, not that was too nervous but you never know). Oh and just like in Serbia, in Holland people are kissing three times! We talked about everything, we catched the topic on which Marlene and I had a huge fight last year (which is past Dutch foreign policy), politics of course, history of the Netherlands and Serbia, question of identity in Holland and Serbia and how there is a huge difference in those two approaches. It was such a great conversation. Oh and Don (Marlene’s father) lended me his bike cause I expressed a wish to do everything Dutch when in Holland
So in spite that only few kilometres from where I am Van Gogh is waiting me (which is something I’m really dreaming about) I was strong and decided to restrain myself from spending such a lovely day in the museum (I’m sure I’ll eventually catch some rain here) so I decided to go and bike through Holland’s countryside and enjoy the nature. So I took a maps Marlene’s father gave me; put my camera, few sandwiches, water and some long sleeves shirt in my backpack and hit the road.
Holland is cyclist paradise! There are cyclist roads beside the main, car ones, signs for cyclists with marked routes, everyone (car drivers) respects them. It’s just amazing. However thank god there were no cops cause I made few big mistakes: I know I was suppose to ride a bike on the right side of the cyclist road but few times I forgot that cyclist road can be on the left side of the road for cars. So I was turning right from the cyclist road following the direction only to realize that the cyclist road is on my left side next to the road for cars where I was driving. I did earn few sirens from the car.
Oh and I did manage to fall. Idiot, I’m so into taking pictures so I suddenly saw something I had to picture and completely forgot I’m on the bike so I stretched my leg to stop myself but the speed was too high (I wasn’t realizing that either) which made me lost balance and I ”kissed” the pavement. In the middle of the town, it was really embarrassing but I took that picture.
What I was hoping to see was a fields of tulips, something I don’t think I can see elsewhere. In one of the guides I have, they suggested a route but I had to changed it a little bit of course. So I drove through Bennebroek, Hillegom, Lisse, Sassenheim where I turned right on my own and then I wasn’t sure where I am but when I saw the sing for Noordwijk aan Zee I realised that “aan Zee” must mean “at the sea” so I had to go and see Northern Sea. I was kind of excited cause I’ll jump in the sea again! All of a sudden I’ve found muself among sand dunes and I knew I’m almost there and then I smell it and heard the waves and there it was. endless horizon filled with blue. I left bike near the cafe bar, took of my shoes and started walking towards it. Sand was actually warm but I knew water isn’t. On the other hand I thought “If you could enter into the Arctic Ocean this will not be a problem” and it wasn’t. It was cold and lovely, quiet, except of the waves few people were walking or jogging… It’s strange that last few seas I saw were all cold and on the north of the Europe. I’m so glad I decided to turn and make my own route.
Then I was a little bit lost in the town and couldn’t find road to Leiden so I asked two older ladies who were so polite and were explaining me direction about 5 minutes… in Dutch! I did found the road eventually but that episode was so nice. At first they didn’t know whet “Leiden” is. I repeated few times and when I showed them on the map they both in the same time said “Oh Leiden!” (I thought I pronounced exactly the same way they did!). When I reached the Leiden I was quite tired (I biked some 45 km) and decided to take train on my way back. You know you can bring your bicycle into the train … if you buy the ticket for it! Which costs the same as for you! How silly is that!?!
And now it’s 2 am, I’m finishing this first report without knowing where I’ll go tomorrow. The idea is Amsterdam but I’m a little bit afraid if the weather is lovely just like it was today I’ll not be able to resist to go in Van Gogh’s Museum. By the way, I learn how to pronounce Van Gogh corectly and I know when I come back and say his last name in Serbia no one would know about whom I’m talking about! I was so surprised. Of course it’s all “H” (Dutch language has so many and so strong “H”).
till soon *wave*