Sunday, September 27, 2015

happy hours in amsterdam-oost

I stood at the door. The host had given me clear directions to the flat and promised me his friend would meet me at 3 o'clock with the keys. It was 4:18pm (or, 16h18). I called the friend. "Oh, your friend should be inside. She was on time." Which friend, I wondered. Following his instruction, I buzzed up to the flat. It wasn't long before I heard feet running down the stairs. Marie's cousin greeted me. Though I'd never met her in person, I was relieved to immediately recognize Charlotte. She felt the same; little introduction meant she could rest her lost voice. She turned to lead me up three steep and narrow flights. I practically held my suitcase above my head.
Fortunately, the airbnb was as cute and airy as expected. Worth the hike, in other words. My brother rang up a few minutes after I'd caught my breath. Soon after, Marie followed. Properly reunited and introduced, we set out on a leisurely walk to the De Gooyer Windmill. We had made plans to meet Lorelei for happy hour al fresco at Brouwerij 't IJ, Amsterdam's leading organic microbrewery.
The evening advanced organically (pun intended) from there. Thanks to Lorelei's local scoop and Dutch data, we tipsily strolled over to Roest. The laid-back industrial setting was perfect. We enjoyed a couple more beers with a casual spread of picnic food. We also boldly participated in the inflatable backyard fun--a bungee run and a two-man joust--until we discovered it'd been rented for a private event...
Eventually, the night winded down with gin cocktails, whiskey, and wine at Walter's, the Walter Woodbury Bar. It was a classier yet just-as-local haunt with a beautiful interior that was clearly influenced by its namesake--the 19th century English photographer who was one of the first to capture the "exoticism" of the Dutch East Indies. Given the atmosphere and plethora of libations, our conversation became a debate on culture and identity. My brother was absolutely enthralled. "The wonder of grad school abroad," I told him with a smile as we walked back to the airbnb. What a special understanding Jorgie and I now share.

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