Monday, September 19, 2011

Vacation Highlight: Wake Up Amsterdam

When I went to Paris, I was lucky enough to be there while the Avett Brothers were touring and was able to see a band I love, play a tiny venue, in a magical city. It was special, and such a great story.

The Avetts were on tour again while I was traveling, though I wouldn't be able to see them. I was, however, in Amsterdam while possibly my favorite band was playing -  Arcade Fire was performing in Amsterdam on my last night in the city. When I was finally able to confirm my travel arrangements, I found out the show was sold out. Boo!

I searched online, found nothing on Craigslist and couldn't figure out where Dutch people went to sell their goods online. During my OkCupid communication with one dude, he told me where to look. And magically, there were tickets!

I took a train out to a small Dutch town, met a man with the ticket, and squealed.

The show was held at the Heineken Music Hall, and housed 5000 Dutch hipsters. I grabbed a beer, settled in, found a great spot and danced my ass off.

Having seen them recently, I was familiar with their set, though Arcade Fire will always be an amazing show. They played for what seemed like a minute, but was actually a pretty long set. And they made the weird looks I was getting totally worthwhile.

My name is Iris, and even in foreign lands, I dance like a doofus.

Ready to Start
Keep the Car Running
Neighbourhoods #2 (Laika)
No Cars Go
Sprawl II
Empty Room
The Suburbs
The Suburbs (Continued)
Month of May
Rebellion (Lies)
Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)
Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)

Wake Up

So my adventure ended in the most perfect of ways: listening to Win & Regine serenade me with Wake Up. It was my idea of perfect.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vacation Highlight: Kantjil & de Tijger

Before I left for Amsterdam I was told to explore the city's Indonesian cuisine.Since I really like food, I was stoked to do so. And about two days in, I followed a recommendation from a bartender at a lounge I really liked and strolled to Kantjil & de Tijger and thank goodness I did!

First, I was starving, as I mentioned previously, much of my time in Amsterdam was spent lost, so I had been trying to find the place for a good hour before finally spotting it. (I don't want to hear about how not smart I am. I get it. Not smart.)

Second, this was the best meal I had in Europe this trip. The food was fantastic. Simple as that. And there was a lot of it. Amazing! I had the NASI KOENING RAMES and it included more food than I thought could fit on a plate and it was delicious.

The cute bartender was totally right about this place and my first stop on my next trip to Amsterdam will be to Kantjil & de Tijger, yours should be too.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Vacation Highlight: Mooie Amsterdam

How can I put into words how much I liked Amsterdam? I don't know that I can.

Amsterdam was the impetus for this trip. For many years I've heard many people talk about how fantastic this city is, and because they aren't dumb, I trusted them.

Strolling along the canals. 
And they were right.

Amsterdam won my heart. The city is lovely, the people are fantastic, the energy is pitch perfect and it is freaking beautiful! I wandered the streets for five days, getting lost, visiting random parks, stumbling upon ballet performances, being super friendly, getting great tips from locals, and basically thinking this city is pretty special.

I have told everyone, this is not my last trip to Amsterdam, and it won't be. Amsterdam, I will be back.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Vacation Highlight: Jewish Museum

I cannot lie, I didn't do a lot of cultural things this vacation. I did a lot of strolling, a lot of socializing, and a lot of other things, but museums weren't my priority - the only one I really wanted to see in Berlin was the Jewish Museum, and it didn't disappoint.

We all know of the atrocities Jews suffered during the Holocaust, and the Museum did a fantastic job of helping us understand - showcasing a variety of personal items from individuals who may or may not have survived the Holocaust. It walked me through the progression of Germany from a country of tolerance to one fueled by hatred.

I shed several tears during my tour of the museum. How could you not?

This was easily the best us of space to evoke an emotional response I have ever experienced. Filled with empty spaces and uneven flooring, the building itself aims to teach you how it must have felt for millions of people during WWII.

If you are lucky enough to visit Berlin, make sure you stop by the Jewish Museum. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Vacation Highlight: Beer in Public

I want to live on Max Beer Strasse
 It's no lie, I like beer. A lot.

Each week, Corey & I enjoy a new type of beer each  
week for talkfoolery and it's great. So when I was
heading to the land of beer, I knew I was in for a treat. Little did I know, it would be such a cheap treat!

Almost the entire time I was in Berlin was spent with a
half litre of beer in hand. And the lovely part was that I didn't have to feel ashamed for drinking in public and no paper bag was required. YES!

But, not only was public drinking accepted, with ridiculously cheap beer prices, it was practically encouraged! For a 1.50 Euros I was able to enjoy half a litre of Germany or Europe's finest beers. How is that even possible?!

Seriously, if beer is cheaper than water, I will always choose beer.


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Vacation Highlight: New Friends - Again!

My first full-day in Berlin was busy: jet-lag, bike tour, first date, being doubled on a bike and many beers in between.

At the end of the date, who was super cute and spoke great English, he gave me a bike ride back to my hotel and went on his way. After he left, I realized it was now 1AM and I hadn't eaten (though I'd done a good job of drinking). At that point I thought it a good idea to get something in my belly. So I went to wander to find something.

Along the way I heard these two American dudes in front of me. Since I'm alone, I have to be a little cautious of who I talk to. So, after adequately scoping them out and deciding that they seemed harmless, I stopped and asked them a random question.

Then they couldn't get rid of me. Art & Sergio became by Berlin travel buddies, whether they liked it or not.

We stayed out til 6AM that first night, went on a pub-crawl the second and strolled the streets of Berlin after a nice dinner on the third night.

Three North Americans in Berlin
How much did I enjoy their company? When they left I got immediately sad. Don't worry, I bounced back really quickly, but I did get a little blue after we parted ways.

So a big shout out to my Berlin mates - you guys rocked my world, and helped turn Berlin into an amazing time. Thanks!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Vacation Highlight: Alrighty then, Cupid!

Have I mentioned how much I hate online dating? I do - I've had only a handful of decent dates from it, and I've tried them all.

At the suggestion of my friend Erin, I signed up for OkCupid recently. While the Vancouver scene has yet to pay-off for me, the Berlin and Amsterdam scenes sure did. Before I left I lined up one definite date in Berlin and two in Amsterdam.

You read that right, three dates in ten days. HOLLA!

Anyways, the fun thing is these dudes always take you to somewhere not in the guide books. My date in Berlin took me to a funky lounge deep in the heart of old East Berlin - it was so Communist-feeling! My Amsterdam guides gave me insider tips to great restos and bars over beers.

No, none of them were love matches, but they were fun ways to spend my evenings!