I’ve known Becks and Chrissy since we were all 13 and ugly (some of us – me – more than others). For those of you who don’t know my age or maybe do know but suck at math (like me), I’ve known these ladies for 11 long years, and thankfully puberty has done us a few favors in the meantime. 11 years of life and school and boys and screw ups and successes and adventures and idiocy. If you’d told 13-year-old way-too-much-eye-makeup-wearing us that we’d be together again 11 years later in Germany, I doubt we’d have believed you to be honest. But here we are with two weeks of new adventures under our belts and plans in the works to do it all again soon. My time with the girls was incredible – it was a blur of classes and castles and work and streets lined with cherry trees in bloom and adventures to neighboring Cologne (where we ran across the landmark bridge you see in all the pictures to get to the bathrooms on the other side bc Chrissy and Becks have tiny bladders and our bridge-beers went right through ‘em) and casual alcohol-induced escapades. Becks left us for her home back in England about a week in and it was around then that Chrissy and I decided to make the 4h train trek to visit one of my closest friends, Joël, (you’ve heard about him before – the sarcastic Dutchman). And this, my friends, was the beginning of quite an adventure.
We spent the morning of the 24th making the trip from Bonn to Utrecht which mostly involved me reading over a friend’s doctorate thesis and taking pictures of a sleeping Chrissy who passed out while reading (she never makes it on a train without a nap – consistency is key). We made our very roundabout way - which took like 20 minutes more than it should have bc we have literally zero sense of direction and are apparently too dim for even Google Maps to be helpful - to get to Joël’s roommate - whose actual name is Stijn which translates to Stone in English and therefore will hereby be referenced as such – to pick up his keys. He was nice enough to walk us all the way to their apartment (which after seeing the route, we definitely would have gotten ourselves lost without his guidance). Upon arrival we were given a cold beer and a fantastic view from their picturesque roof while we waited for Joël to get home from work.
We’d planned to visit the tulip fields at the Keukenhof the next morning, so we woke up (according to Chrissy, way too early, aka like 8.30am) and got our butts out the door, only to be met with the literal barrage of tourists that had the same idea we did on a casual Thursday when they should all have been at work or school or literally anywhere else at all but WHATEVER. Anyway it turns out the Keukenhof itself (which literally translates from Dutch to “kitchen courtyard” in case anyone was curious) is basically just a massive botanical garden. And don’t get me wrong, botanical gardens are super neat – just ask Becks, our resident nature nerd – but that was not what we’d been searching for. We wanted flower fields. Hundreds of thousands of brilliantly colored tulips to bring our souls joy and our social media followers jealousy (just kidding we were really only in it for the joy). Feeling slightly gipped and particularly motivated to find the flower fields of our dreams, we decided to rent bikes and check out what the surrounding area had to offer. Such. A good. Decision.
We were off to a strong start when Chrissy got made fun of by both me and the bike rental guy for being a tiny human who almost had to take a children’s bike bc Dutch people are large – imagine a dwarf living among giants and you have a visual of this interaction. Anyway once Chrissy finally mounted the bike in some fashion, we made moves – slowly, bc she bikes at a similarly glacial pace to that which she walks – and also haphazardly, in a way that meant when she wanted me to stop so we could take a picture she would shout at me to “Break, break break!” and then realize that she herself forgot to break as she rolled right by me. Cycling is a work in progress, you know? We’ll get there… or we’ll die trying. Our bike-based frustration was briefly alleviated as we bore witness to the most beautiful fields of flowers we’d ever seen in our lives, and the look of joy on Chrissy’s face when she found out she could pick them (no she is not a nature-killer they were planning on plucking them all that day anyway to sell the bulbs) was absolutely priceless. That being said, the look on her face when she shouted “I hate bikes” in desperation on our way back to the Keukenhof and the look on the face of the old Dutch bike-loving lady who couldn’t help but to hear her were equally priceless. And then the look on my face when the woman’s husband rolled down his window as they drove past us on their way out shouting “Great bikes!” …. You guessed it, priceless.
We spent our evening cooking – and by that I mean Chrissy cut things up with speeds rivaled only by snails and tortoises, and Joël literally stood behind the bar-stool-less kitchen bar drinking a beer and asking whether he could do anything to help and then totally not doing those things, and I cooked. We watched Game of Thrones to the most recent episode so we were all caught up and despite the casual chill-ness of the night somehow ended up working our way through a case of beer sitting side by side and upside down on the couch eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and talking about everything and nothing at all. It was pretty wonderful.
We woke up the next morning later than intended and headed to the market and the grocery store with Stone to grab supplies for the three-course meal he planned on cooking after work that night. This would have been a much quicker shopping trip if the boys had literally any cooking materials or spices or any other useful kitchen item (other than a coffee machine which they do have thank goodness). Seriously in our time there we literally tripled their number of spices. Not hard to do when the initial number was three (including salt and pepper and some weird spice intended for chicken) but I digress. We spent the afternoon helping Stone cook his totally veggie-less (don’t worry mom, I made veggies and was the only one who ate them) three-course meal which started with homemade meatballs and ended with crème brulee and a very fat and happy group of idiots. Very important side note: Stone cooks like he is actively trying to make a mess. I’m fairly certain he throws food on the floor for fun. It was like watching a toddler cook in a play-kitchen except with the result being real food that was really enjoyable, so I can’t really complain too much. While the boys were at work, Chrissy and I picked up some candles and printed some photos of the four of us to hang on the mantle (it’s a long story – the boys wanted to hang something up there and we had officially voted to become collective roommates so we felt it was only right that pictures of the crew were on the wall – naturally the one of Chrissy and I was the biggest bc we bring the most joy – see photo below). Chrissy being her creative and resourceful self combined empty beer bottles – of which there were many bc Joël wouldn’t know what it meant to take out the trash if his life depended on it – with some of the tulips she’d picked the day before for a gorgeous centerpiece with a vibrant “broke bitch/beer-lover chic” look to it. Basically now all we need are the essentials like I don’t know a coffee table or chairs but you know what, baby steps right?
We met up with Joël after he got off work to grab some orange spirit-wear (this past weekend was King’s Day in the Netherlands for those of you who don’t know, which means you wear a ridiculous amount of orange, which is sooooo not my color) which mostly involved Joël finding the ugliest possible things someone could wear for the holiday and putting them on my body whether it be penis-hats, tutus, or sequined dresses. We walked out of the store without the tutus but with two orange headscarves, 4 orange ties, a gigantic orange blowup hand (which got us into a lot of trouble later so thank god we only found one), some orange glitter, and significantly less dignity than we’d walked in with. We headed home to meet up with the group – a bunch of Dutchies who’ve known each other since we met when they were doing their exchange semester in California – and the night really began. It started on the deck where we’d recently moved the couch earlier that day. There were first-time beer shotguns, kickass rounds of CatchPhrase (Chrissy and Tiemen and I kicked ass), jokes about spider love (even weirder than it sounds tbh), spatula shaming (not as bad as it sounds), and juuuuust a few beers. And then magically, several hours later, we all woke up totally sober and not at all hungover or confused about the chronology of the night. Some of us woke up a little more banged up than others with wounds that can only be the result of a cross-bow bearing gnome who hates kneecaps, but a heaping order of KFC (with no mashed potatoes bc the Netherlands hates mashed potatoes like wtf??) and a nice nap helped liven us up enough to make moves end attempt to enjoy the King’s Day festivities.
We decided to take a later train home bc Stone checked our tickets and said we could and he works for the Dutch train system so we trusted him – and it wasn’t long before we were booking it back to the apartment to throw our things together and hurry (painfully for those of us with mystery injuries) to make our train home. Spoiler alert: despite Stone’s assurances that we totally could take the later train, the Germans begged to differ. We made it most of the way home before someone noticed our incorrect tickets and apparently out of the kindness of his heart (his heart was not kind) decided to validate them for us. However, he only had time to validate mine before our train arrived at the station – which btw was NOT our train and the bastard sent us on the wrong one – and we somehow arrived in Cologne instead of where I freaking live in Bonn. So let me paint you a picture. It’s late. We’ve been traveling all day. We are toooootally not hungover at all. We are confused about how the hell we ended up in the wrong city. We’re close to home, but not close enough that we can risk getting on a train without a new ticket. There are several UNBELIEVABLY annoying soccer fans chanting throughout the station. We are essentially delirious. We have to buy new tickets despite being poor as all hell, all because some dipstick train person decided we should get on the wrong train and then THOSE TICKETS DIDN’T EVEN GET CHECKED SO WE COULD HAVE JUST NOT FREAKING BOUGHT THEM. At this point, the only thing fueling us is our collective self-hatred and burning desire for doener from the place down the street from my apartment. We finally actually arrived in Bonn way too many hours after our departure from Utrecht only to be met with confusion as we realized that in the few short days we were gone, they’d expanded the train station (aka Hauptbahnhof which all my American visitors have decided to call “Hoppenhoff” due to an inability to pronounce it correctly) to such a degree that it was unrecognizable, so we spent several minutes trying to figure out if in our delirium we had traveled to the wrong Bonn (which is impossible bc there is only one). We were basically zombies. Everything was hilarious and nothing we said made sense, but it was somehow a beautiful (painful) evening.
But the adventure didn’t end there. You see, Chrissy had been having some transportation trouble since before she even got here. She bought her initial ticket to visit me a few months back with an airline called WOW Air. Weeks after she bought it, the airline went bankrupt and failed to mention that fun fact to its clients, so it’s lucky Des sent me a link to the BBC News article talking about it so that I could tell Chrissy to check out her ticket situation. The situation? She had no ticket. She contested the purchase with her bank and set out finding herself a new way to get to me (and holy shit am I grateful she didn’t just decide not to come) and it wasn’t long before she had a new ticket with a fully functioning airline that got her to me with no issues. But appaaaarently, the universe was as opposed to her going back as it was to her coming to me in the first place, because her airline was on strike the day she was supposed to fly home. So she got a new ticket (the old one should be refunded) and a train ticket to the Frankfurt Airport to go with it. Cool, problem solved, right? Wrong. The morning she was supposed to roll out, she checked her train ticket one last time to verify her departure time. Her train had been cancelled. Of course it was. So we made our way to the train station to find her a new route which should’ve gotten her there about an hour before her flight – which for a transcontinental flight is cutting it pretty close, even for me. But the alternative route she was given was delayed, so we spent the morning stressing out on the train and in my apartment respectively hoping for the best and putting our faith in Chrissy’s ability to physically run through the airport to make it to her gate. It would appear that our faith was well placed seeing as how I am now alone in my apartment (Wiebke is gone on vacation) thinking about what a wonderful two weeks I’ve just had and wishing with all my heart that I didn’t have to go back to work today and school tomorrow.
In closing, please enjoy these fun facts and final comments:
Things the apartment still needs: some sort of orb, a coffee table, kitchen bar stools, a reading corner, string lights, plants (I am actively sending the boys photos of potential things to buy and add to our place)
Things the apartment does not need but has anyway: a vibrating mattress, a gumball machine, way too many empty beer bottles
- Some trains have “silent cars” where passengers can go to - as the title would suggest - be silent. Chrissy and I sat in one of those cars and started reminiscing on the events of our trip before being aggressively informed of the existence of such train cars and essentially asked to shut up or leave. We left. Silence isn’t really our thing.
- On our way to the tulip fields (at the Schipol Airport) a bird flew into the back of my head effectively dive bombing me and leaving me feeling particularly violated. It was not ideal, and I am fairy certain I have bird flu.
- Chrissy has decided she is incapable of saying the word “poffertjes” which is like a Dutch mini pancake covered in powdered sugar and instead consistently resorted to saying “puh puh puh” while moving her hands like an upside-down jellyfish. Also, the human body is apparently capable of intaking an unlimited number of stroopwaffles (another Dutch dessert-snack-thing).
- We love a good squirrel.
Overall it was an incredible couple of weeks. I got to have some of my favorite people meet and re-meet each other, and there was basically non-stop laughter and happiness from beginning to end. I miss the girls like hell already and am fairly certain I’m experiencing withdrawals. The Netherlands was honestly painful to leave, and I’m compensating for that by already making plans to see the boys several times in the next few months (aka invading *our* home) and texting Joël to come visit me on a daily basis. All in all it was the perfect vacation from real life and I wouldn’t change a minute of it for the world. Now I just have to make it through the next 4 months of this damn program without losing what little sanity I struggle to maintain and it’ll be time to figure out my life all over again, which is something that has had to happen way too many times in the last few years if you ask me.
Last but not least, to explain the title: adventure residue is a thing that sounds a lot worse than it really is and stems from the fact that Chrissy and I were wearing white shoes over the course of the trip which by the end of it were covered in any number of questionable substances and instead of referring to them as dirty (which they were) we just called it… adventure residue. Probably funnier for us than it is for you but that’s okay with me tbh.
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)