Sunday, May 11, 2008

clean beauty in stockholm and joy in amsterdam

From Prague we moved on forward to Berlin, or so we thought. We got into Berlin, saw the wall, the place where Hitler shot himself, and then realized Alex forgot his retainer in Prague. Oh, lord. Okay, so risk his teeth shifting and then having to find a dentist to get another retainer molded OR spend the next day that we were supposed to spend in Berlin going back to Prague. We chose the latter. Kind of absurd to be reliant on a strange molded plastic mechanism, isnt it? So, 5 hours back to Prague then another 5 hours returning again to Berlin and then a 2 hour break and then a night train to Malmo, Sweden and then a 15 minute break and a 5 hour train to Stockholm. Whew!

Luckily, train travel is super not stressful and we had our night cabin to ourselves and it was mostly pleasant for having to go that far for that long. Stockholm was beautiful. Clean, neat, happy. The land looked to me like northern wisconsin -- which is probably why a lot of swedes ended up there -- filled with red barns and flat land, lots of glimmering lakes among forests of thin pine trees. I felt like I fit in there. Lots of tall beautiful blondes, not what i am exactly, but sort of how I see Lindsey. Alas, it turns out that in very well run countries with not much sightseeing you'd rather dream of living there than be a tourist there. So, we cut out a day of Stockholm and headed to Amsterdam via Copenhagen.

Just in the short while we have been here the experience has been filled with wonder and awe. Bikes everywhere! Barely any cars only buses and trams and bikes and people fill the streets. The canals are rife with young and beautiful large dutch people, rowing their boats and their newly-browning skin glowing in the afternoon sunlight. When we tried to get on the bus the driver said it was free today (i think informally because no other native amsterdammers knew about this), and everyone was in such high spirits about this spontaneous phenomena that they kept filling with laughter everytime someone else got on the bus and received the pleasant news from our jovial captain. To top it off, he picked up his microphone and told the bus he was thinking of Louis Armstrong's famous song and began to sing "the colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people on the BUS, i see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do, they're really saying I LOVE YOU -- I love you, I love each and everyone one of you, my bus riders." And as I look over past all the faces just beaming with glee in unabashed and unironic happiness, a little girl who looks like a younger version of myself and is also dressed up like a priness smiles at me as the setting sun shines behind her head and illuminates her golden hair, throwing a halo around her angelic face. Then I look out the window behind her and see the famous statue that proclaims I AMSTERDAM. This can't be real.

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