a unique perspective on this crazy world


We are playing catch up tonight.  I have been in Amsterdam for a few days and have been writing stuff for the blog – but sitting in coffee shops or bars writing long hand so now I have to type it up!  A little time travel will be required… back to May 4th

I just woke up from my nap and am out exploring Amsterdam.  Another of my favourite cities.  It may even have toppled New York and Paris to become my fave.  But cities are like children.  Each brings something different to the mix and you can love them all equally – but for different reasons.

Amsterdam is playful.  It’s a youngest child 🙂  It’s stylishIt’s gorgeous.  It’s entertaining.  This is my fifth visit so I have my routine.  Apparently once I start riding a bike everywhere I will be officially Dutch.  Paris and New York have their routines too.  Each city has a different focus.

Here I spend my days overdosing on culture and architecture – the past and the future are equally celebrated, a pretty mean feat 🙂  In late afternoon I nap… because one of the most brilliant aspects of Amsterdam is the nightlife.  I have always enjoyed dancing so on visit #3 I was determined to go dancing.  That’s when I discovered you can dance til 4am but no one is there until about 1am – hence the nap 😉

I think I may have already mentioned my first trip to Amsterdam.  I was too poor to day in Amsterdam proper but it was in Haarlem, the town I was staying in to commute each day to the tourist sites of Amsterdam, that I found out the Berlin Wall had fallen.

Because I wasn’t able to stay in Amsterdam proper and Scott was lame and we never did nightlife, I never really “saw” Amsterdam on my first visit.  But I wanted to go back someday…

In 2007 I took my mom and niece to Europe.  They each got to pick a city.  My niece chose Paris without hesitation.  My mom thought about it for a while and decided on Amsterdam.  Canadian troops liberated the Netherlands in the Second World War so, as I had discovered on my first visit, for people of her generation there was this wonderful link between the countries.  I understand tomorrow is the anniversary of the liberation so could be an interesting day.

Coming back to Amsterdam almost 20 years later reacquainted me with its charms but it still remained a place I had already “done” so a third solo visit (a first) became part of the future travel planning – but without a date attached.

And then I met Engelbert in a bar in New York City.  One of those random encounters with a stranger.  It was January and freezing outside so the hotel bar seemed as far as I was willing to venture – and I had two free drink tickets!

I had just arrived, jetlagged and exhausted from my work schedule as usual so the plan was one drink and an early night.  But then this handsome European guy sporting cufflinks asked if the incredibly young bartender dressed like wench #3 from the set of Pirates of the Caribbean had made my Caipriñha correctly.

A bonding moment for people of the reading glass set 😉  It turned out Engelbert had a big thing for Caipriñhas… and when I guessed his accent as Dutch or Flemish, I scored a lot of brownie points 🙂

The hotel bar consisted mostly of us so by the time we got to round two I had gone upstairs for my coat, he had spoken with the concierge regarding bars in the neighborhood that stayed open late and we were off to an Irish pub…

When it closed, we found another.  The bartender seemed to like us and it was one of the most interesting conversations of my life.  His mother was German so a Dutchman marrying a German woman not long after the Second World War definitely not the norm.  He had worked for several years in Taiwan.  And he had run a start up in the heyday of the Silicon Valley.  He had been in DC helping his youngest daughter get settled at Georgetown but – like me – loved NYC so was spending a few days there before flying back to Shiphol.

It was a fascinating conversation and he was an interesting man but the kind of alpha male who is not a natural pairing for me.  Despite my reservations, we started a romance of sorts via email.  Internet dating when you have actually MET the person seemed a better option.  And some of his emails were devastating – the stuff of romantic novels, not real life.

At that point, however, I was making an attempt to meet someone in MY OWN CITY so was going on more conventional internet dates while I tried to figure out who Engelbert really was…

Things were fine until I met someone local I actually liked on an internet date.  It was July.  And Engelbert had decided to stop in Vancouver en route to a business destination elsewhere.  Awkward…

I decided the solution would be to use some airmiles and fly to Amsterdam to figure out WHAT was going on with romantic email Dutch guy and if I should be choosing him over local prospects.  It was high season so all I could get was a very restricted itinerary for August.  Engelbert was busy at work and I said I didn’t have to come then but he started planning my trip to the entire country – complete with making out in front of a windmill… so I got on the plane.

The start was brilliant.  He had worked for Phillips so was a technology guy so the emails and text anticipating and announcing arrival, planning our first meeting on Dutch soil – it was pure cinema, much grander than normal people ever experience in daily life.

And the first two days (Tue and Wed) were brilliant.  It was so fun to be in Amsterdam with a Dutch guy – and really opened me up to the city in a new way.

Thursday was disappointing.  He had to work unexpectedly so our evening together got cancelled but the weekend was supposed to make up for it.  I wandered the canals in the dark alone… but I also discovered how incredibly romantic Amsterdam can be.  It is a city where you can take yourself on romantic dates and be totally content…

In the end, it was great that I had discovered this.  Will get more into details of that fateful trip as I hang out in Amsterdam but the bottom line is this… Scott was beastly to me in Berlin – and a lot of timeI spent in that city on my first visit not such fun memories.  But Berlin seduced me – and it’s an affair that just gets better with each visit 😉

Engelbert proved to be a class A jerk.  But HE got me to Amsterdam!  I fell in love.  I went dancing!  I got to be part of an incredible sailing weekend that happens every five years (I have Aeroplan and the dates I could get to thank :)).  I have never been so popular in my entire life.  I went from the girl who went to Amsterdam to go on a date to the girl who got mysteriously dumped by a random jerk to the girl who recovered from a breakup in record time and lived enough in 10 days to equal the high points of many people’s entire lives.

As Liam and I agreed – the Engelbert Amsterdam trip wasn’t just a screenplay – it was SEVERAL screenplays!  So, Engelbert, thanks for luring me to Amsterdam and thanks for dumping me without any semblance of manners or style – so that I could have a WAY better time than if I’d stayed tethered to you…  Sometimes getting dumped is what makes the trip fun!!! 😉

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