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Wordless Wednesdays: Feels like home

Lost in a sea of orange

I finally have internet here again which means I can finally post about the game. Yes I used finally twice in the same sentence. I’m that excited, ok?

It was quite the experience. I’ve had two weeks now to process everything but it’s still hard for me to put into words exactly how it felt to be there. I went alone which was ok. It was kind of disappointing because I was supposed to meet a friend but she ended up getting sick. Getting there on the train was a bit of a fiasco, involving a ticket mix up but that could be a post all by itself.

Once I arrived in Amsterdam I made my way through the sea of orange to Museumplein.

It was funny because as I was walking down this main street I realized that I didn’t actually know exactly how to get to Museumplein. I mean, I’ve been there dozens of times but it’d been years. I had a general idea so I decided to just follow the masses of people. They all seemed to be walking in the same general direction. It worked out but I did end up taking a rather round about way. Turns out, not everyone in Amsterdam was going to Museumplein to watch the game. Psh.

One of the things I love most about the Dutch is their enthusiasm for all things Nederland. The orange outfits ranged from impressive to just hilarious.

This? Was probably not even the weirdest outfit there. Just the weirdest I got a picture of.

The area was set up to hold 100,000 people. They estimated there were 180,000 people there. When I say we were like sardines I’m not exaggerating even a little. There were times I was moving through the crowd and my feet weren’t even touching the ground. I’ve been to many rock concerts and outdoor festivals but I have never been in a crowd that was this jam packed. Generally in big crowds there are breathing areas where people are spaced out a bit more. Not here. We were shoved, shoulder to shoulder as far as you could see. If you could see the screen, you were smooshed up against people on all sides.

Oh right, have I mentioned that Dutch people are statistically the tallest people in the world? Yup. Have I also mentioned that I’m 5’4″? So when I mentioned seeing the screen I really meant the people who were 6′ and above.

This picture (and all crowd shots) I took on my very tippy toes with my hand stretched as high above my head as I possibly could.

Not even joking, this…

was my view for about half the game. Not actually bad to look at per se, but also not exactly what I came to see. My head was barely at their armpit height. Halfway through I decided to move around. I never actually found a good spot to watch from so I basically took my cues from the crowd as to what was going on in the game.

This is my very favorite picture from the trip. It was clearly a very intense moment in the game.

Being in the big crowd alone was overwhelming to say the least. Not that I was nervous or felt unsafe but it’s amazing how alone you can feel when everyone around you has a group. There were friendly people but mostly guys and I’m pretty sure it was mainly for ulterior motives. Actually, their motives were fairly clear in certain cases. One group of four guys was so excited that they put me in the middle and humped me from all sides. Fun. Another guy asked me (for his ::cough:: friend) if I “wanted to have sex because he’s very horny”. Charming. It didn’t bother me necessarily but it would have been nice to have my own group of people.

By the way, it was hot. The Netherlands is supposed to be all mild with the weather. You know, mid 70’s in the summer. Beautiful. Not this summer though. At one point it was 93 degrees. Ninety-freakin-three degrees. That, combined with the fact that there was copious amounts of alcohol being consumed and we were crammed together like cattle, made for a seriously smelly experience.

At one point a helicopter flew over and dropped orange gerber daisies on the crowd. It was very pretty but also perhaps to help with the smell? Please ignore my incredibly sweaty bangs. Gross. Also notice the guy next to me is several inches shorter than I am. Poor dude couldn’t see anything either. We would have commiserated about it together but he only spoke French and Spanish. Ah well.

The noise level was unbelievable. Not only was there cheering and yelling and singing but the vuvuzelas. Oh the vuvuzelas. Also, air horns. I’m not sure what’s worse. Honestly? I’m leaning towards the air horns. At least they have to stop when the user needs a breath. It was noisiest before the game started. While they were playing there were moments where the quiet was almost eerie considering how many people were there. It was quickly followed by shouts of excitement or disappointment but some moments the tension was something you could actually feel. That was the best part of being in that insane crowd, feeling every emotion of the game times 180,000.

Yes, there were moments when I was beyond disgusted. First off the smell, which I have already mentioned. Then there was the time I watched a guy just pee, right in front of me, in the middle of the crowd. He didn’t want to lose his spot. At that moment I was never so happy to be wearing tennis shoes instead of sandals. I may have looked like a dumb tourist but at least my toes weren’t anywhere near touching that filthy ground. There was also the beer flying through the air (why do people waste perfectly good beer? I don’t get it.) Then the vomit. And God only know what other liquids.

Amsterdam is generally a very clean city. Not so much when there’s a game apparently.

I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t stay for the entire game. About three quarters of the way through I went to the edge of the crowd. I just couldn’t handle being smashed against so many strangers anymore. It wasn’t like I could actually see anyway. I did stay until Spain scored their goal. There were only a few minutes left so I knew it was over. Plus? I. was. dead.

See? Dead.

I wanted to catch a train as fast as humanly possible. I knew that I would only be ahead of most of the crowd by a bit but I hoped that it was enough of a head start that I could maybe get a seat. It worked. I had to stand until the first stop and after that I was able to sit down. I really needed to sit down, see above picture as evidence.

What an incredible experience it was. I really am glad I went. There were moments where I doubted my sanity in going. The train trouble getting there, the intensity of braving the enormous crowd alone and the stress of getting a flight home all made me wonder if it had been worth it. In the end I really think it was. It’s a story I’ll always have. That’s really why I did it, for the adventure.

And boy, from start to finish, what an adventure it was.

This better be jet lag

I’m exhausted still. I felt pretty good most of the day but around 7pm I started feeling super tired and sick to my stomach. I kind of have the chills though too so I’m really hoping I’m not coming down with something. That would be just perfect. At least I’m at home if I get sick. However, we start moving tomorrow so I really don’t have time for illness. Hear that Body? I do NOT have time to be sick right now.

Anyway, I’m just not feeling up to sorting through and editing the hundreds of pictures and video clips I took this week. There are a few great ones though (like that teaser?). Even though we’re moving I promise that, as long as I’m not sick, I will get a post up with them tomorrow. ::cross my heart::

For now, watch this song.

While all you Americans loath vuvuzelas, (for the record, vuvuzelas are a South African thing, not a soccer thing) the Dutch actually grew quite fond of them after they were introduced to them during this World Cup. So much so that they wrote a whole song dedicated to them. If I could find the lyrics in writing I would post the translation but I can’t so you’re just going to have to guess. This song was played over and over in Amsterdam. It cracks me up and was a lot of fun to listen to when 180,000 people were singing along to it. Good times.

Until tomorrow.

Hoooome!

Despite the challenge that it was to get to Brussels, my bet paid off and I got a flight home! There were three of us standbys that ditched AMS and took the risk of going to BRU. We kind of bonded in Amsterdam and then again today. When you’re in stressful situations like that I guess it’s pretty common.

Not long after we got to the gate the CSR made an announcement that they were clearing the standby list so we should remain seated. At that point we got excited because we were pretty sure that was a good thing. It was! Before boarding was even half over I was handed a business class boarding pass. I could have kissed her. I controlled myself, although I don’t think my thank you even began to express my gratitude. I literally got teary eyed at having that boarding pass in my hands. Me and another standby were seriously hugging each other we were so happy. The only bummer was, because of date restrictions, one of the standbys I bonded with didn’t get on. As I went down the jet bridge, I overheard the CSR tell the other guy he wouldn’t be able to fly. I felt so bad for him. He’d been trying to get out just as long as I had. Hope he makes it tomorrow.

Once we were on the plane I was in heaven. There were a few tense moments where the pessimist in me was afraid the flight would cancel because they were running “system checks” for 30 minutes past departure time. Thank goodness everything checked out fine and we were able to get on our way. I didn’t truly relax until we were in the air.

Then did I ever relax. Seriously, if you have to travel first and business class is the way to do it. For some reason, despite a short, restless night of sleep, I wasn’t sleepy once I was on the flight. I ended up watching four different movies and playing a bunch of games on the entertainment system. So nice.

The best part by far though was giving Joel a big hug and kiss. I missed him so much! It was also good to see my puppy. I’m pretty sure she missed me too.

Please focus on the cute puppy and not the enormous bags under my eyes.

It’s now about 7:30pm and I’m seriously thinking I’m going to go to bed as soon as I publish this. Really I wanted to go to bed around 5pm but I thought that was probably way too early. I have a ton of pictures and videos to go through and since my brain is basically apple sauce that’s not going to happy tonight. Look for several Holland posts in the coming days. Night! ::yawn::

The one where nothing goes right

I still can’t get home. Today was the day that looked best for the flights. Now I’m really starting to freak out. All the other flights are just as full and no more than 2 standbys are getting on at a time. Considering there were 33 today it should take me approximately 4.7 months to get home. Guess I’ll have plenty of time to practice my Dutch.

Seriously though, it was probably really stupid of me to come. It wouldn’t be as bad if I wasn’t supposed to start working again in a week. I also missed my last soccer game and am well on my way to missing Phoebe’s first competition. If I don’t make it back my next Wednesday I’ll lose the job I haven’t even started yet. That would be awesome. And by awesome I obviously mean the freaking worst.

I’m just feeling extremely down and defeated. I don’t have many options. There are only two flights a day. After that I’m S.O.L. I just really thought I’d get on today and I wasn’t even close. It doesn’t help that the CSR is a complete bitch. She’s just rude and as soon as she thinks the flight is full she makes us leave her sight. Not kidding. Even though every time everyone is not on the plane which means it’s possible there could be an open seat because of a no show or error. Doesn’t matter. Once she’s done she literally makes us leave the gate area so she doesn’t have to see us any more. She better hope she’s never on a flight I’m working. Just saying.

Anyway, the flights are just as full through next week. So, in a desperate attempt to leave Europe and get back to The States I’m going to try something a little different. At ridiculously-early-o’clock tomorrow morning I’m catching a train to Brussels. I praying that I make it on one of the two flights out of there tomorrow morning. If not it’s going to be an expensive train ride for nothing. It’s cheaper than going back and forth to Schipol day after day though so if it works it will be well worth the money. Plus, I’m still under 25 so I can ride on a youth ticket. Score! The ticket calls me a “youngster”, kind of makes me giggle.

Oh, and now? It took me an hour and a half just to buy the ticket. I selected home printing because that way I’d know the ticket was ok and in my hand. Wouldn’t you know the printer is inexplicably offline and won’t print. Nothing we do seems to work. I guess I’m going to end up canceling my reservation and making a new one. Because of course there’s no option to change to picking it up at the station. It’ll cost 5 Euros extra but at this point I don’t really care. I should’ve been in bed hours ago. I’m sure a short night of sleep will help my attitude loads in the morning (not).

So yeah, sorry for the downer attitude. It’s just one of those days, you know? We really can’t afford to just buy me a plane ticket back home so it’s stressful. I really didn’t think it would be this hard to get out. I guess I learned my lesson. If you pray please say one for me tomorrow. Or whatever good luck charm/vibes you can send my way would be amazing. I really need it.

Still Here

I can’t wait to write about my time watching the game and my days here but they really should be accompanied by the pictures and videos I took. Since I’m still stuck in The Netherlands I don’t have any way to really upload or edit them.

Why am I stuck in The Netherlands? Well, apparently I’m not the only one who wants to get back to Chicago. Unfortunately most of the other people have tickets. I however, can only list myself for any available seats. Sometimes that works out great. Like on the way over here I ended up in a first class suite. Trust me, sweet only starts to describe it. It is a fantastic way to travel if you want to arrive well fed and rested.

On the other hand, when the flights are really busy it’s a problem. Then I travel all the way to the airport (45 minute train ride) just to sit there for several hours and turn right back around. It’s not cheap. It costs about 30 Euros round trip. Not too bad if you only go once. It starts to get expensive when you have to do it several days in a row though. Plus I have to clear customs and get a stamp in my passport every single time. My passport is going to be so full but it’s only going to be of AMS stamps. There’s also the lugging of my bags back and forth, up and down several flights of stairs and on and off of trains.

The silly thing is, staying here longer is kind of a treat. I feel more at home here than anywhere else in the world. I really love spending the extra time with my host family. If I knew when I could get back I wouldn’t be bothered, I’d be ecstatic to be here longer. It’s the back and forth and the unknown that has me all stressed. I just want to know the plan.

The flights look a little less full tomorrow than they did the last two days so I’m really hoping I can make it home. We’re supposed to sign the new lease on Friday. Plus I really do miss Joel a whole bunch (aws and all that mushy stuff, sorry). Wish me lots of luck. Now I’m off to bed because 5:30am comes really early.

Hup Holland Hup

Go Nederland! Kick Spain’s ass!

“Hup Holland hupOranje_leeuw_3
Laat de leeuw niet in z’n hempie staan
Hup Holland hup
Trek het beessie geen pantoffels aan

Hup Holland hup
Laat je uit ‘t veld niet slaan
Want de leeuw op voetbalschoenen
Durft de hele wereld aan”

Also, this song below cracks me up. It’s called Het is Stil aan de overkant which translates to It’s Quiet on the Other Side. The whole song is making fun of the other team asking “Why aren’t you laughing?” “We’re singing, why aren’t you?”. HA-larious!



I really hope The Netherlands wins the World Cup today. Either way I will be decked out, screaming my head off cheering them on. Hup Holland!

Probably jet lagged

If you’re reading this it means I made my flight to The Netherlands. It also means I’m a big ball of tired jet lag. Going to Europe is always rough on me. You leave in the afternoon so you’re not that tired and it’s hard to sleep on the plane and you arrive early in the morning. Not early enough that you could go back to bed, just early enough that it’s for. freaking. ever. before you can realistically go to sleep for the night. If you take a nap then you’re pretty much screwed for sleeping at all at night time. Most of my first days in Europe I remember in a haze of sleepiness.

Anyway, I love this country so much or I wouldn’t have traveled all the way over here for only two days just so I can celebrate with them while they play in the World Cup final. I am so excited for them!

The first time I went to The Netherlands was in 2000. I was in Amsterdam for 2 weeks and during that time the Euro Cup was going on. I have never seen so much orange in my life. I first fell in love with the Dutch on that trip and I got my first hint of a crush on Joel there too. I was 14 so it was going to be more than 4 years before something came of it but it’s super sentimental to me.

I’m also ridiculously excited to spend some time with my former host family. My sweet Caroline, Timo and Morten are growing up so fast it makes my head spin. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen them. I think this is actually the longest I’ve gone without either them coming here or me going there. I miss them so much! One of these days I need to do a post about my time there. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life.

Alright, well send The Netherlands good vibes and me awake vibes. Unless you’re reading this in the afternoon, in which case I hope to be sleeping over here. So send me sleepy vibes… I’m asking way too much aren’t I? Just cheer for Oranje in the game tomorrow and we’ll continue being good friends. Tot ziens!

World Cup on a whim

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that The Netherlands are playing Spain in the World Cup final this Sunday. What you may or may not know about me is I’m a huge Holland fan.

I was sitting around thinking how cool it would be to actually be in The Netherlands for the final game. Then, on a whim I checked the loads and they were kind of open. I didn’t have any plans this weekend so I thought, hey why not try to go.

So, here I am. Sitting in seat 1A. Yes that is a first class sleeper suite thankyouverymuch. I’m ecstatic! From there I’ll take a train to Rotterdam and spend some time with my former host family. The flights back are pretty full but I’m not letting myself get stressed about it. If I get stuck in The Netherlands for a couple extra days it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

If I don’t make it back Monday I will miss my last soccer game but I figure World Cup > Monday night soccer league. It’s not like I’m a star player… or we’ve ever even come close to winning.

Anyway, I don’t know how much of a chance I’ll have to get online while I’m over there so I’ve set up posts that should go up while I’m gone. I may have to wait to respond to comments and such (because I know you all will be leaving tons of comments. Right?) until I get back.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend. I know I will. I’ll be saying it a lot this weekend but Hup Holland!

*typed on my iPhone so please excuse any spelling or grammar mistakes. I’ll blame auto correct.

And so the fun begins

We’re down in Indianapolis this weekend visiting our good friends Cecil and Rachel. We still haven’t convinced them to move to the far superior city of Chicago yet so we only get to see them every once in awhile. It’s always a blast when we do.

From where we live it usually takes around 3 hours or so to get to their house so we left not long after Joel got off work, 4:45pm Eastern. Of course traffic sucked. Really badly. We had the brilliant idea to take an alternate route… aaand everyone else had the same idea it seemed because it was just as bad going that way too. We didn’t end up getting to their house until a little after 10pm.

That’s right. It took over 5 hours for a 3 hour drive. Kill. Me. Now. Luckily most of the time Twitter worked and when it didn’t I had Joel to talk to.* There were also some pretty windmills to look at on the way down.

Reminds me of The Netherlands. Oh how I miss it.

I may or may not have stuck my arm directly in front of Joel’s face to get this picture. Yes, he was driving. The windmills were a nice break from the constant corn. Because Indiana? Pretty much nothing but corn in 90% of the state. Not that that’s a bad thing. If you really like corn.

I remember as a kid I actually loved driving past cornfields that were plowed perpendicular to the road. When I stared at the rows whizzing by there was almost a wave like motion to it. It fascinated me. Honestly, it still does.

Anyway, I expect we’ll have a fun weekend as usual. Tomorrow we’re just hanging out and Sunday we have plans for a Spanish brunch and fireworks. Epic Fourth of July weekend? I think so.

*That sounds so backward. I really need to try and curb my Twitter addiction. Sorry, Love.

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