While in London, I had a very anti-tourist experience. I spent most of my time eating all of the delicious vegetarian food offered all over the city
and cooking vegan delights with Leah on the daily. While my digestive system was less than excited about my choice to eat only vegetables, but my palate was satisfied for the first time in months. Leah introduced me to quite a few of her friends from the London couch-surfing community which one night led us to hear a really awesome Balkan band.
The rest of the time I spent riding the bus, making art in the window fog,
and observing London and the Londoners.
I did do a bit of sight-seeing, randomly stumbling across Herman Melleville's home one day
on my way to walk across the Thames and see Big Ben,
the always wonderful protest row outside parliament,
and Westminster Abbey (though it was Sunday so I couldn't go in),
then had a nice evening walk through Regent's Park.
I even met the Queen!
And by that I mean had a really awkward time trying to take a picture of myself with a postcard I didn't want to buy.
The next day Leah and I did some silly tourist things, having an embarrassing encounter with a guard in King's Cross when trying to find Platform 9 3/4,
and then trying repeatedly yet ultimately unsuccessfully to get pictures on Abbey Road,
though the delicious cheap Chinese food we started the day with
made it all worthwhile.
After a good stint in London with Leah, I headed to Amsterdam to meet up with a few of my friends from Morocco and explore what Holland had to offer.
I had heard tell of the bikes in Amsterdam, but until you hear the quiet of a bustling bike city in the evening, you really can't understand. I really enjoyed the personal touches many people made to their bikes, as well as the sheer number of bikes parked on any street, plaza,
or canal barrier.
There was also some incredibly impressive graffiti on a row of buildings we walked by.
A friend of a friend is studying abroad in the 'Dam and showed us around one night, and walked us through a part of the Red Light District on our way to somewhere else, and I had a really hard time with it. I think some of the rest of my crew wanted to go see the main part of the District, but walking past all of those windows knowing what was going on inside made me feel totally helpless.
The most moving experience I had while there was visiting the Anne Frank House. I obviously have no pictures, but that's not an experience I'll soon forget. Thanks to Otto Frank for all of his work and his willingness to open the house to the public to keep the story alive.
Overall, Amsterdam was a magical city, with all of the proper accoutrements for a carnival- bright lights,
and great sights. Oh and let's not forget feminism!
We were lucky enough to get the last few seats a Harry Potter showing, which was quite an adventure into Dutch culture- evidently talking right up until the movie begins, yelling back at the screen, and clapping at any accomplishments are all acceptable and expected in the movie theaters.
Sadly, a stomach bug put me out of commission the day my friends went to the Van Gogh museum, and who wants to do a Heineken brewery tour with food poisoning? Despite my quick illness, though, Amsterdam was a great way to end by break, though I'd rather return sometime in the spring or summer when the sun is up longer than from 8am to 4:30pm.