Holidays are good for the soul. They are like that humongous and obtrusive red stop sign in the path of life which brings you to a grinding halt, telling you ‘whoa nelly, you are going a little too fast, how about putting on the brakes for a while and gather your thoughts?’ So we decided to do that in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam and Utrecht.

And it was fantastic. I had such a great time. I did not think of work or anything that could possibly stress me out. It was awesome. I think one of the best vacations I have ever had. Not that it was not without incident.

1) there was a shocking heat wave all over the Netherlands. Amsterdam was like a sauna, and it caught them off guard. Our hotel had no air conditioning and it was unbearable.

Now in general, I’m no princess, I’m ok with subpar hotels because my mentality is ‘I only have to sleep and shower here’. The thing is, it was so hot, that after showering I got all sweaty again in a heart beat and it was not as if I was doing hard labour, I was just standing there. And it was so stifling that it was difficult to inhale. 

So we changed hotels. And we found a brilliant one just a street away. It was something I had never done before and seriously out of my comfort zone, but it worked out great in the end.

2) so one night, we hear a crashing noise and there is a power cut. No big deal. Then all of a sudden, the fire alarm went off and we were being evacuated from the hotel. I threw a cardigan over some rather revealing night attire, put on a pair of trainers and ran downstairs. Of course, that evening it was actually chilly. However, it’s Amsterdam; nobody cares. And there were people worse off than me, barefoot, in boxers, bleary eyed and dishevelled. But what really caught my eye was a very calm old man in a pair of striped pyjamas, holding a banana. He was not eating it, just holding on to it. 

Maybe he simply wasn’t fond of flambé.

The mess was soon cleared up, there was simply some smoke in the staff quarters of the hotel in the basement. We were allowed back to our rooms in about an hour and we were given free breakfast, which I thought was rather sweet.

3) we drove up to Utrecht in my cousin’s car using GPS. Since Utrecht is currently under construction, the GPS seemed to get confused and it looked as if we had a boat rather than a car. It was really rather comical. It kept indicating that we were driving in the canals! 

I have never driven abroad before, so I thought it was a cool experience, even though I was just a passenger. For my cousin of course it was been there done that, but I haven’t been on a proper highway since coming from Canada, and I felt seriously nostalgic.

4) only half the hotel we were staying in was refurbished. We had another seriously hot room, however this time we asked for a change without hesitation and we got a nicer, newer room. 

   
           

One thing that really struck me about Amsterdam had to be how free everybody is. Since certain vices are legalised and therefore controlled, there isn’t that atmosphere of being persecuted. Everyone basically minds his own business. There is no sense of judgement. 

And I feel so inspired. Inspired to change the way I see things and live my life. This holiday made me realise what is really important to me right now, and even though Amsterdam is a buzzing and bustling city, in a weird way there were no distractions and I had some time to really reflect. And now that I have returned home, I hope to keep home as my centre, as those who really matter to me reside there. Because where they are, it is home. Nothing is more important.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;

A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,

Which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.

Home! Home!

Sweet, sweet home!

There’s no place like home

There’s no place like home!

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