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Nathan in the Netherlands.

April 25, 2010

As I’ve mentioned before, Nathan is real.

And he came for a visit!

Nathan is a proper photographer, studied it in college and all that, so I asked his permission to use HIS photos to tell of our adventures, and he graciously obliged. I did edit them, both in number of photos used and the size of the chosen ones, so that they wouldn’t overwhelm my layout. Unfortunately, in doing so, I took away some of his artistic touch, but I do hope he doesn’t mind.

I figure I’ll make this a series of Nathan in the Netherlands. Because with each picture will come many, many words, and while Lindsay is the only person in my life who admits to only skimming my writings (older sisters get away with so much), I’m sure that other people are just as tempted from time to time. Breaking up the memories may make them more palatable for my family member readers.

We had originally hoped for Nathan’s visit to occur a bit sooner after my initial move here, but a variety of obstacles appeared, and the visit didn’t happen till April. Which turned out to be a good thing. Weather was on our side! Well, more on our side than it would have been in Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar. April worked out well.

And First Aid Kit played Amsterdam in April! April 8. Which is how we picked which exact date Nathan would show up. Well, that and Ryanair’s price variations.

Nathan arrived on the evening of April 7, and I picked him up at the Eindhoven airport. Which I had never been to. Turned out to be the simplest ride to get out there, too. So simple that I was early. (I’m always early.) It was a nice day, so I waited outside for a bit among some benches. And I laughed because several of the smokers out at the benches were smoking pot instead of cigarettes, so I figured that a bunch of non-locals were getting in one last legal high before returning to London or Madrid or Prague, or wherever they called home.

Nathan showed up soon enough, and we headed home and had Chinese food and woke up the next morning to hit up Amsterdam.

It was chillier than the forecast had predicted when we showed up, and we had each dressed for the forecast, so I was a little nervous about lasting the whole day without the cold ruining the experience somewhat, but we did have a couple of indoor activities planned, so we navigated our way to the NEMO Science Center, just a ten minute walk from the station. It was along a canal that bordered the north end of the city, so we didn’t really enter Amsterdam proper just yet, but already the city seemed very much like itself.

Off to our right was city centre. With its church steeples rising up and its bustling mid-morning crowds in various city squares. And off to our left was…construction.

You can find beauty anywhere, however, if your photographer is good enough. Even in construction, or in the case of the following building, destruction.

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Just past that site, we found the NEMO building and into this world of scientific wonder and hyperactive pre-teens we entered.

First floor was hands-on activities. Third floor was all about teenagers and their raging hormones, complete with a Peep Show (that we did not enter due to the abundance of adolescents, but I think it was a peep show into testes and fallopian tubes). Fifth floor was a journey into the mind, and I do wish we had hit that floor first because it was a really neat exhibit, but by then, my mind was tired of paying attention to science, so I didn’t really appreciate it as much as I might have had my mind been fresh.

So we headed out onto the roof, which we almost skipped because it was simply the roof, but as has often been the case in my life, when I see stairs that I’m allowed to climb, I climb them. And Nathan was all for the extra exercise. So up we went, and how nice that we did! The sun had come out and warmed the town and the hearts of everyone in it! Or at least my heart.

Can’t you tell?

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A common theme throughout Nathan’s entire visit was photography. Michael and I had been discussing our need for a camera, and Michael wanted to go high quality, but I was wondering if we should spend the money because I’ve never properly produced a masterpiece in any category of the visual arts at all (I once dropped a drawing class in college because the idea of attending the second class gave me a bona fide panic attack), so wouldn’t a standard point-and-shoot serve me just fine?

While Nathan was here, we discussed a lot of my fears of photography, and one of them was the classic case of Trying Too Hard. A trap I am sure to fall into time and time again. Since I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. And as we were climbing down the steps of NEMO’s roof, we saw grates upon grates, and I said, “Nathan, look you can take an ~artsy~ photo here.” And he did.

But it actually came out well!

Without looking like he was trying too hard.

Judge for yourself.

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From the Science Museum, we headed south to explore the city proper. I had only been to Amsterdam once before – back in early 2002, and it was nothing like how I remembered. The Amsterdam I remember was much smaller and had fewer people. But we stopped and bought a map, then an actual guidebook, then we paused for a second at one of the street markets so I could buy a summer dress (bought a cardigan yesterday that will work with it perfectly, so I’ll be able to wear the dress sooner than I thought!), and finally we ate lunch. Falafel. Greasy but tasty. (And vegan, obvs.)

Nathan had a store in mind he wanted to visit – Patta. The boy is obsessed with sneakers. So we hit it up, and window shopped a few other places, but before we knew it, we needed to eat. Again.

I had read up on a veg place in the guidebook I purchased, and we knew where the street was, so we headed there and started walking. Let me introduce you to the Boom Boom Pow building.

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We passed that building once. Then we backtracked. Then we tripletracked. And I suppose by the end of the night, we passed it a fourth time, but that one doesn’t count because we were actually going home, so that was a necessary passing.

But we were heading down Spuistraat, which was the road of the restaurant. And after making our way down several blocks, I said, “I’ll guess I’ll look up the actual address.” So I did. And realized we had passed it. So we turned around, passed Boom Boom Pow once more, and found the restaurant. Which was no more! They had become a new restaurant. With a menu in the window and the very first item listed was a BLT, so I figured this new restaurant was not meat-free, and we weren’t going to eat there just because it shared the same address as a previous meat-free establishment, so we decided to get closer to the venue, then decide a place there. So yes, we passed Boom Boom Pow for the third time in less than ten minutes, and I’m quite certain everyone on the street corner opposite mocked us for being the lost foreign tourists that we were. Even though we weren’t really lost. Just indecisive.

We ended up finding the perfect place for dinner anyhow. A sushi restaurant just off of Leidseplein. I’d link you to them, but their site autoplays a monologue about the restaurant, and I refuse to promote such a thing. I will, however, visit the restaurant again. It’s such a perfect place for a non-veg and a vegan to eat together. I guess I can give you the name – Soho Sushi. There must be a million of those in the world. So I mean the one in Amsterdam.

After dinner came time for the show! What we had been waiting for.

There was no opening act, but there was a DJ. And he played this song:

Which we really enjoyed. Turns out it’s on the Twilight soundtrack. Blech! But this remix is not the one on the soundtrack (I don’t think), so perhaps we can pretend the connection isn’t there.

It was an interesting song choice to lead into the show, considering First Aid Kit is a duo of underage sisters from Sweden who make videos of themselves singing in the forest. This is Klara, the younger one who I thought was the older one, simply because she takes the lead between the two.

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I like the way they both dress. It’s sweet. Also sweet: their performance. Hard to pick my favorite moment on the night, but I did very much enjoy Ghost Town, which they sang at the front of the stage, sans microphones.

And it’s got the message of a person with a mad case of wanderlust, and raise your hand if you know anybody like that. (Me. I’m talking about me here.)

The show was short, but after they finished, they set up shop at the merch table, but they were so mobbed that Nathan and I decided to just head home.

So two pics to close this entry. Neither were taken on that day, but both celebrate our day in Amsterdam. The pictures star our mementos from the NEMO gift shop.

First up, my mood ring. This picture was actually taken the next night, when Nathan, Michael, and I went out dancing with Michael’s colleague, Esther. The drinking age in the Netherlands is 16, so the dance club we found was filled with kiddos. So the bar served kiddo-sized beers. We just had to show them off, so here is my beer, in all of its Lilliputian glory.

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And please notice the ring, with the light of the flash blinging off its silver band. It’s my mood ring. Pretty sure it was blue all that night. And according to the decoder, blue means I’m lovable. It’s a weird adjective to use. It determines that other people find me easy to love. Seems like a lot for a ring to know!

Nathan’s gift shop purchase was a key ring. A cow keyring. Nathan likes cows even more than he likes trainers.

But prettier than the keyring itself is the picture he took of it. I didn’t even recognize it at first.

Enjoy. And stay tuned for part 2 of Nathan in the Netherlands.

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2 comments

  1. […] in all honesty, the morning after the dance club was less action-packed for obvious reasons. Yes, the beers were small, but we didn’t move to those until after dinner at a Mexican restaurant, which involved […]


  2. […] and you know how I love coffee mugs? And Nathan loves cows? Well, in the gift shop was a perfect combination of our two loves. A coffee mug with a cow on it. […]



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