Amsterdam. The city was magical and hazy and beautiful and flawed and it smelled delicious. We definitely almost got run over one thousand times by bikes: bikes ridden by men in suits, women in dresses, children in diapers. Sometimes, bikes resembling wheelbarrows carried families comprising of all of the above. The Dutch were so friendly about us always being in the way, signalling our near-death collisions with a friendly little ‘ding ‘ding’ and smile. It was the most civilized and composed group of near-death experiences I’ve ever had.
After our short time in the Netherlands, we spent some equally short time in Belgium. The six month temporary import permit we were issued for the van in the EU had expired and our days in Belgium signalled the beginning of the end. As we prepared to pack everything up and send Stormie home via the port in Zeebruges, her departure loomed large over our final days in Belgium. It wasn’t like a dark, grey ominous cloud hanging over our heads, because that would be dramatic, but . . . .
And that was it. We handed over the keys and took a train to Paris, the European leg of our trip in the van finished. Killing time in Paris is no hardship, but leaving Stormie was hard (mostly for me, who seems to have a bit more van-induced separation anxiety than Robbie). We are so thankful for this van and the way she carried like a noble steed safely throughout Europe.
Had we known how amazing Belgium and the Netherlands would be, we would have scheduled more time in these countries. I have spent the majority of my adult life being shunned for my love of mayonnaise on french fries. This most obvious pairing of condiment and starch is not only accepted in Belgium and the Netherlands, it is celebrated. If that is not a reason for us to re-visit Belgium, than I don’t know what is.