Writing this note from a little mattress with a Cinderella fitted sheet, on the floor of the daughter's bedroom of a dear friend of mine... It is great to be back in Europe.
Gone, methinks, are the dreaded shudders I get every time I bounce between continents. Indeed, after being in Ecuador only weeks ago, coming back to Europe is as effortless as just about anything I have ever done. There is something about the energy and vibe in Europe that I immediately connect with... and while I am certain that growing up here has a lot to do with it, it also embodies so very much that I embrace as an adult. I love the mix of cultures, the wavelengths, the speed and flow, the sound of languages I have come to love, and so much more. It's especially nice to land in the Netherlands. Perhaps the Dutch are the most "American" of any people in Europe. They are heavy on commerce, modernity, convenience, and comforts. Sure, they have some wonderful traits that are unique or special to them, but this country is the training wheels for any traveler seeking to venture abroad from the USA for the very first time.
I'm running three tours on this current trip abroad, and this first one is going to be a doozy. Many months ago, one of my closest and dearest former students asked me to put together a tour for her and some of her friends. It was a most interesting challenge.... What places do you select for a great friend's very first trip to Europe?! It's quite formidable to choose locations and stops for a twelve day tour which will represent the very best of such a diverse continent!
My true colors came out rather immediately... We start in Amsterdam (they are over the Atlantic and arriving in two and a half hours), which is a favorite of travelers around the globe. Between the many superb art museums, an unmatched vibe of energy and happiness, and some many colorful and historic aspects that are legendary (canals, architecture, coffee shops - yes, that means cannabis, and the world famous red light district), Amsterdam is a perfect kick-off... I know the gang will be a bit jet-lagged, so we're not rolling hard and heavy to get things in motion. I'll get everyone orientated on our lodgings and where all the good stuff is (we are two blocks from the Anne Frank house, and equidistant from Dam Square and the Red Light District in one direction, and the hustle and buzz of the Leidseplein and the Museum/Art District in another
The famous bookshelf/attic entrance to where Anne Frank's family was hidden...
And it would be criminal to visit any location only for one's arrival day. We'll stay here two nights, so no one has to feel rushed to pack in all of the experiences after spending the previous night on an airplane... The rule of traveling to Europe from the USA is quite simple for the first day. Stay awake at least until 7pm. After that, you can sleep like a baby and wake up the next morning with your clock all adjusted... Works like a charm. I'll pen other updates and such as we travel, but it was great for me to come a day early, spend some quality time with some very dear friends, and sleep like the kid whose room I currently occupy. I love being abroad. Hell, there is nothing strange or foreign at all about being here. It remains a favorite homecoming of mine, and nothing beats the great privilege I have of getting to show many of my favorite places to a wonderful, easy going, energetic group of travelers. This is a younger group for me, for a pleasant change, and it's going to be a blast...
This itinerary is magnificent, if I may say so. The locations and lodgings I've chosen are superb... Photos will be coming. Happy Trails!