Stroop! There It Is! (Amsterdam II)

September 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

Stroop, the syrupy substance favored by the Dutch, is a main ingredient in “Stroopwafels,” a sugary little snack that I may or may not be developing a slight addiction to. This of course goes along with my addiction to sparkling water, however, which is a lot healthier. I still think the best kind is Talking Rain and am constantly disappointed that I can’t find it anywhere but Seattle—oh how I need some of the berry flavor right now!

Anyway, speaking of Stroop, some friends and I ventured to a little pancake house about half a block from where I live the other day, where we discovered the wonders of Dutch pancakes. They will stuff a pancake with pretty much anything under the sun if it’s edible. Also, it was at this fateful (and delicious) breakfast that we decided to add Stroop as a vocabulary word, as in “Stroopse, I forgot to bring the poptarts,” “Stroop, there it is!” or my current favorite, “You make me wanna stroop, stroop-a-doop, stroop-a-doop, stroop-a-doop-a-doop-a-doop.” <–If you don’t know what that’s from, get with the program.

Speaking of stroopsies, I made a bit of a mistake with my last post. So while naming off the various countries my ISN friends were from, I came to one whose nationality I couldn’t remember. I felt it was possibly incorrect, but based on accent alone I went with Irish. Of course no one from home would know if I screwed it up, and I was certain nobody from my group would see it either. Well actually the person in question happened to read my blog post and brought it up the other day….he’s from Prague–but in my defense, he’s spent enough time traveling around to have a rather mixed accent that’s quite difficult to pin down. Well, stroopse! (Also, I hope I got it right this time, haha)

Another wonderful part my the Amsterdam experience has been bicycling all over the city. There are basically express lanes for bikes all over the place, which makes it the most efficient way to travel. Also, it gives you full authority to yell at any bumbling tourist herds that wander their way into your lane of traffic.

Being an aggressive driver and therefore aggressive biker, I was glad to see that most people are responsive to a bike bell. The crappy thing is that the bell on my bike broke within a couple of days, and since I don’t really feel like yelling “ding ding!” at people, I’ve been dealing with a bit of irritation until I get a new one. Sometimes I say “sorry,” which is basically the Dutch way to say “excuse me,” but I find that it isn’t very effective and certainly doesn’t feel satisfying to say. Sorry??? They should be sorry they are standing out taking up the bike lane! It’s like having to say “fudge you” when you really want to tell someone to fuck off.

Anyway, s friend of mine here at the program also had that problem when her bell imploded on itself–as she furiously rang it at a crowd of tourists in front of the Anne Frank Huis, it fell apart, flew off the bike, bounced across the street and landed in the canal. One can only imagine how fantastic that scene must have been.

But all is well after getting a new bike bell. Now the thing is to get the rest of my friends to get their own bikes. You see, it’s common in Amsterdam to have a friend ride around on what I like to call the “bitch seat” on the back of your bike–the rack that is normally used to store things in transit. Unfortunately for me, every one of my friends is taller than I, and therefore they can’t fit their legs behind mine on the bicycle. Thus I get to enjoy the privilege of riding around in the bitch seat of my own bike until they get theirs. I almost feel like I should install one of those little kid seats in the back that many Dutch parents use for their children (or Dutchlings, as I call them).

Some of the things I’ve noticed that seem to be the same everywhere: little kids are cute, motorcycle gangs are irritating, and the rituals of the Greek community appear to be equally ridiculous. My first experience with some frat boys was seeing some in a bar dressed up in suits who were participating in a hazing event. The only difference I saw between these and the ones I’ve seen back at home was the long hair. I’ve also seen boys hanging about in speedos at Vondelpark, girls dressed up in what appeared to be costumes of Mrs. Trunchbull from Matilda in Dam square and groups of young adults bicycling to some event wearing ridiculous costumes at 2 in the afternoon. And the weirdest part about the costumes was that I could find no unifying element; there were animals, disco dancers, ballerinas, roller-skaters, the list goes on.

Whether they’re doing it in regular clothes or animal getups, the Dutch definitely do know how to party. One of my favorite things to do at home in my lovely apartment is to sit up in the windowsill and watch the boats full of partyers float by on the canal. My window is at the perfect height for people-watching. I’d say it’s just high enough to be able to spit on people’s heads, but not nearly high enough for it to be worth the risk, as they’d still be able to tell it was you.

Anyway, at all hours of the day, boats loaded with Dutch people and/or tourists come floating down the canal, often bumping loud techno music. Many of them seem to favor one song in particular, but I don’t actually know the name of it. Watching these individuals packed onto boats fist-pumping to techno music as they float down the canal at midday is quite amusing–I think they look like ants on a log.

Aaaand speaking of partying, this brings us to the next vocab word for the day: TTFO–Titsed the Fuck Out. This can mean 2 things: Being dressed to the nines and/or wearing some kind of wild outfit, or being ridiculously inebriated.

So on the last night of ISN orientation, there was an animal-themed rave party that went until 4 am. Of course, I happened to find an awesome leopard onesie at a store near my house and decided to wear it. So I was TTFO, I was looking ridiculous, it was awesome and I was stoked for the party as I rode over to my friend’s apartment to hang out and pre-game for the party. Unfortunately, I ended up getting TTFO in terms of the second definition as well. Due to a combination of exhausted, jet lag and alcohol, I was forced to go home early in the bitch seat on the back of my friend’s bike. Luckily the leopard onesie also makes fantastic pajamas.

And it’s a good thing too, because about a week later I once again tried to wear out the leopard onesie, and once again found myself sleeping in it instead of wearing it to the desired event. Lesson learned. And of course, the final vocab word of the day is: leopard fail. Epic fucking leopard fail.

In conclusion, here’s a picture of the beautiful view from my room tonight:

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