Windmills, Beer, Friends and Family

Windmills, Beer, Friends and Family

When looking at the calendar earlier this year, we all started to plan where we would want to go for Eid holiday. Mit and I began to formulate a plan that at the time seemed wonderful: 8 countries in 9 days. We could use the train; it would be easy. The deeper we looked into this, the more I realized how little time that would give us in each place. After some revisions, we pared the number down to 4 countries in 9 days. This would allow us to spend a full day or two in each location.

First Stop

One of the easiest cities to enter Europe from Dammam is Amsterdam. I had never been to Netherlands, so this was an obvious choice for our first leg. Turns out our friend Antoine was planning his 3rd Annual Brothers Retreat to start in Amsterdam as well. So I guess Mit and I backdoored ourselves into that one. We had plans to stay in the Renaissance which is perfectly located in the center of the city near the train station.

La Joie de Vivre

One of my good friends from high school, Joelle, has begun her international journey. And in preparation for this, she and I kept good contact to help with any questions she might have. Since she went abroad, we have kept in touch about each of our cool journey pieces. Well, we determined that it would be a good weekend to meet up and hang out. She booked her ticket to come up to Amsterdam for a couple days. After my flight I headed to check in and get refreshed, then it was off to see Joelle. I can hardly tell you how much joy it brought me to see her smile when she first opened the door.

La Joie de Vivre, in the flesh. It was such joy to see her again.
La Joie de Vivre, in the flesh. It was such joy to see her again.

Joelle had planned a lovely day excursion to see some windmills, clogs, and cheese. Even though the tour was not as overwhelming as I could have hoped, I was so happy to get to see some of the historical sights and spend the morning with Joelle. It was very chilly in the wind, but the sights were beautiful.

Clog manufacturing
Clog manufacturing
There is a lot of Holland in this picture
There is a lot of Holland in this picture

Seeing the clogs being made and the cheese processing reminded me of the middle schools trips to colonial Williamsburg and such. It was still interesting, but I felt like I was in a walking museum. Our driver snagged us some stroopwaffels which made my day.

Meeting Up

After the tour, we headed back to the Renaissance to catch up with Mit and see the city. After several duds, we fired up Yelp and picked a spot called Arendsnest. This place was perfect. Tons of local Dutch beers, artisanal snacks. Perfect.

Choices choices choices. Arendsnest had some great options
Choices choices choices. Arendsnest had some great options

We stayed here long enough for me to fully sample the board. Then we headed over to Beer Temple to continue the fun. I spent most of the time getting to know Brandon and Curtis. Any good friend of Antoine’s had to be an awesome human. These two were no exception. I heard a piece of their life stories, and I felt closer to them.

By this point, somehow we had picked up some awesome glassware and of course, the rain had picked up. So we wandered around checking out some coffee shops and some of the more local sites. The day had been long, and I was exhausted. I bid farewell to Joelle and thanked her for an awesome day. Then I headed back to catch some zzz’s at the hotel.

Friends Forever
Friends Forever

Round Two… DING DING

During the first day, I had discovered that Oedipus Brewing was hosting an International Beer Festival. What perfect timing. We had booked our tickets and made plans to meet there. The event started off slow, but then we found out it had several more areas. Wow. This place was absolutely huge. The beers were tasty, and some of them I had never even heard of. Of course we got hit with a quick downpour, but after that we were greeted with some good weather to drink and enjoy the live music.

3rd Annual Brothers Retreat! Hanging at Oedipus Brewing
3rd Annual Brothers Retreat! Hanging at Oedipus Brewing

The brewery had some people dressed up as characters from some of their popular beers. Overall, the event was quite awesome. The art and layout of the brewery was unique, and I really enjoyed the vibe.

Chilling with Mama and Gaia.
Chilling with Mama and Gaia.

We grabbed an Uber and headed over to Brouwerij ‘t Ij which just happens to be the largest windmill in Amsterdam and a functional brewery. Perfect combination.

Windmills and Beer. Sounds like a perfect combination.
Windmills and Beer. Sounds like a perfect combination.

Van Gogh

I knew I wanted to hit at least one museum in each country. For Amsterdam, it was Van Gogh. Mit and I made our way to the museums, and lucky for me, my cousin was in town. My aunt and uncle were also in town. So we met up with them and saw some quite spectacular art. Afterwards, we had to do some posing with the I Amsterdam sign.

20160702_183128

Then we wandered through the city, stopping to take pictures of the canals. We finally arrived at Bierfabriek. This place had a simple concept: brewed beer, BBQ chicken, peanuts. Simple enough. Sadly, the waitstaff is highly negligent. But this did not sway us from having a good time. The food was very tasty and the beer was well-crafted. After a great dinner, I left my family to meet back up with my friends. Once again, the world is such a small place. It was serendipitous and comforting to meet up with family even when in Europe.

Hanging with my aunt, uncle and cousin
Hanging with my aunt, uncle and cousin

Back at It

I arrived back to the hotel and grabbed a Heineken with Mit. We were ready for the night. Antoine, Curtis and Brandon met us across the street for some drinks. Apparently, there was some big soccer match on. So everyone seemed very in tune to that. After dinner, I decided that with our early train, it would be best to call it an evening.

Antoine and his manly drink
Antoine and his manly drink

The next morning came so quickly. Luckily I hadn’t gone out on the town.

Overall

I had a blast in Amsterdam. It was a fun city in a country with a lot to offer. I would love to spend more time here in the future. But for now, it was time to head to Belgium.

Until next time.

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