To create this post I had to create a new tag for the blog, The Netherlands, as it’s my first time in the country. And, apparently, my first time expressing anything about the country at all in public.
After a pleasant Sunday roaming around Düsseldorf with Patrícia and Pedro, my kind hosts in that city, and Ton and Elmine, my kind hosts-to-be here in Enschede, we headed out onto the autobahn toward The Netherlands, thus taking my summer journey into its second country (and into one of only two countries in the world with “The” in its English name — the other being The Gambia).
The drive through Germany was conducted, in part, at a thrilling 160+ km/h, which, thanks to Ton’s calm demeanour and driving skill, seemed like the most natural thing in the world (albeit the most natural thing in the world that moves really, really fast). Somewhere toward midnight we arrived in Enschede, a place I’ve heard about in folklore (or at least Foursquare), got settled, and fell immediately into a deep, deep sleep.
Today, after waking up late for the second day (travel is taking it out of me), we enjoyed a lunch together Forum Café, after which Ton left Elmine and I to our own devices: we launched out on an ambituous walking and cycling tour that took us through the city centre and then out to the campus of University of Twente and back. It was more cycling than I’ve done in a long time — likely since my last time in Copenhagen — but I survived, learned a lot and had a very nice afternoon. Fortunately we made it back home just before the heavens opened in a sudden and short-lived deluge.
We’ve plans to see more of the city tomorrow, and then, around supper time, I will dart back out of The Netherlands into Germany by train, where I’ll remain in Berlin until Friday when I fly up to Malmö by way of Copenhagen.
In retrospect this mid-trip work-break in Berlin was a really good idea: I love my friends dearly, but I’ve done more socializing in the last 6 days than in the last 6 months, and my brain’s social centres, atrophied as they are, need a rest after powering back up to full. Berlin will be a useful respite before I go back into the fray in Malmö and then head on to what promises to be a very full 8 days of visiting family in Ukraine the week after. Although now that I think of it, I’m made plans to have lunch or supper with more than a couple of Berlin friends, so perhaps I’ll just have to keep on going as I have…