30 April 2010

And back to life as normal

So my life has been returning to normal here in Amsterdam. Considering where I live in Amsterdam - in a community in the Red Light District - normal can mean pretty much anything.

Last Saturday evening I walked out the front door and bumped into some man lying in front of the door. "Just great," I thought, "some crazy man passed out in front of my door." But he sat up, and I looked a bit closer - and I discovered it was Daniel hanging out watching the tourists go by. So I sat down and joined him. Why not, eh?

And as for more normal, today I'm writing this in the office of the community with some pretty overwhelmingly loud music coming from outside. The tons of people wondering around bedecked in orange today make it fairly obvious that today is a special holiday - the Queen's birthday.

And what did I do in honour of the Queen's birthday? I went to Schiphol to pick up a friend, Crystle, who's visiting this week. It took more than 3 hours to get there and back (normally it's 15 minutes there and 15 minutes back). I missed the last train travelling between Amsterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Sloterdijk - as of 11.45 this morning, trains could no longer run that part of the tracks because people had decided to walk on them. So, then a rerouting - and a delay before the re-routing was announced. Finally, I met up with Crystle (more than an hour late), and we began the adventure of getting back to Amsterdam Centraal amidst the re-routed and overcrowded trains. It was fairly gezellig, though - lots of friendly people clothed in orange, happily drinking beer, hanging out with friends, freely talking to everybody, and looking forward to hanging out some more in Amsterdam.

As I write this, it's become a bit more obvious to me why I found my beach vacation in Turkey nice - but slightly dull. I mean, castles are great and hanging out with the boyfriend is also great (and the rest of the company was pretty good, too) - but it doesn't quite compare with the 'never a dull moment' of life here in Amsterdam.

22 April 2010

Home Again

I thankfully got to fly home today, and I am happily situated back in my small apartment (which is still bigger than a hotel room - although not by much), doing my laundry, spending time with my anxious cat, doing stuff on the computer, and looking forward to chapel and coffee with the Community this evening.

In honour of coming home, I thought I'd share a couple of pictures from my trip that have to do with home:
Throwing snowballs - a normal winter activity back home (the other home, that is).

Bikes in Konya

Jip and Janneke (dutch children's literature) in a sidestreet in Tarsus

My temporary home for the last week:

The view of the hotel and the beach.

The view of the beach and fort in the Mediterranean that you could see from the terrace of the hotel (and also from my balcony).

The castle within a 10 minute walk from the hotel.

And the last glimpse, a brief glimpse at one of the highlights of my vacation - the caves in Cappadocia. Now that I'm home again, I remember again how amazing a vacation it was.

More pictures to follow...

21 April 2010

If you are stuck in Turkey, looking at castles is a good way to spend the morning...

This morning I visited my fourth castle this week. And before breakfast I walked out the hotel onto the terrace and read a book while looking out over the sea. I even have maids come in and clean my room. I might be stuck here but İ can hardly complain that life is difficult, eh?

Tomorrow we will hopefully fly home - flights are going again and we are re-booked for tomorrows flight. There is a layover in Istanbul which might be problematic because of the backlog there in the past week but otherwise everything looks good.

And the mood here has generally been positive. After all - if you have castles just around the corner to visit how hard can it be?

Well, ıts only hard when you remember what you miss. Yesterday Matthijs and I took a trip to a nearby city and visited an Orthodox Church. Walking into a church that is frequently used, invited in by the cleaning lady who enthusiastically inquired into what churches we attended (even though we didnt speak her language or she ours), I entered a place where İ sensed others frequently came before God. And even though I am travelling with a group of Christians and there have been many amazing sights, including beautiful parts of nature and churches from ancient times, I realized yesterday how much İ miss that silence and special place related to meeting God.

And when we heard yesterday that we could go home tomorrow - that flights were going again and we had a reservation again, a sense of relief filled me. I find uncertainty and the unknown so hard.

And with the hope of returning to normal life - a life I love - it is easier to be thankful for all the possibilities around me here. And I continue to be surprised, after seeing more of Turkey than I had expected, concerning how much continues to be new and different and unexpected.

17 April 2010

in İceland a volcano erupted....

And hence İ am enjoying a (mostly) all expenses paid vacation (on unexpected free-time) beside the Mediterranean Sea. My group vacation - a sort of educative trip - has now become a beach vacation due to the havoc to flight operations that the volcano has caused. Our flight out is now booked for monday - hopefully the disruption of flights in Europe will be cleared by then.

İ think İ would have preferred to have gone home as planned - back to life as usual - but hey, since İ don`t have that choice - hanging out in a hotel on the beach of the Mediterranean in the company of a group of theologians (Matthijs being of course my favourite :)) with good food included and castles to visit - that is a pretty great alternative.

09 April 2010

Celebrating spring

Spring has come to the Netherlands. And then it disappeared again - but now it's come back again.

The first really warm day that I had free, I did one of my favourite things: going for a bike ride. I took the tried and true route - the ferry to Amsterdam north, through the small streets towards Durgerdam - and then briefly by the Ijsselmeer (Ijssel Lake), then a detour through Ijburg, past the Flevopark, and alongst the zoo to get home. And what made it more enjoyable is that I could drag Matthijs along.

The weather stayed well long enough for me to make another bike trip - this time, with the mission of picking up a scratching post for my cat - in Hoofddorp. I figured I could handle the 40+ km trip, and it was a new adventure, so why not? This time I dragged Daniel, one of the volunteers, along. We biked southwest, through the Vondel Park, through Badhoevedorp, past Schiphol, and into middle of nowhere of Hoofddorp. It was a good way to spend a Saturday - and my cat is generally enjoying the scratching post (although he still hasn't learned to stop using the couch for his claws).

Easter was somewhat cold and rainy (and quite busy for me), but it is now once again beautiful sunny weather. And how am I going to celebrate it? Vacation!! Tomorrow I'm going on holiday with Matthijs - a tour through Cappadocia (Turkey), enjoying the landscape and buildings and visiting especially sites having to do with theology, like connections to Paul's journeys and the early church fathers, monasteries, and churches. I'm very much looking forward to it :)