Some interesting facts that I didn’t have time to write in my hurry to get out of Dutch country.
1. Most people stare you right in the eye and hold contact, unlike here in the UK where most people look down or away after only a few seconds (if any) of eye contact. I’m talking about strangers on the streets.
The Dutch are stereo-typically direct and forward (even more than Germans apparently) which might explain that eye contact thing. When I was on the train’s quiet section because there is a quiet section where talking is not allowed (…) some guy shouted at a girl in angry red Dutch because she answered her phone. That was a little extreme though, I could tell from the other passengers who smiled shyly, embarrassed for the girl, and made eye contact shaking their heads and making exasperated (and silly) expressions in that societal way that shows collective disapproval. Either way, people clearly have no time for any BS- get straight to the point. My Dutch host, lovely as she was, was also pretty direct- and our conversation was orderly, open, fast and interrogative.
2. My host’s address in the Netherlands was Oudwijkerdwarsstraat. True story. Can googlemaps help your life?
3. These guys (except the painter) are street performers in Amsterdam. But they ONLY play on the streets- by design it seems. So when I looked them up hoping to find more of their music I only found this:
4. The runway in Amsterdam Schipol Airport is always interesting. Your plane taxis for like half an hour, you inch along at 20kph across roads, rivers, some lilies, some prostitutes and some people. You are driven (in the plane) for half an hour before take-off. 100% no exaggeration.
After all that driving, we finally arrived in Barcelona – just a 2 hour flight. I have one Spanish line, ‘No hablas espanol’ i.e. ‘I don’t speak Spanish’ also my sister’s favourite line when she visited Spain. I however found little use for my super rehearsed vocabulary- complete with my feigned Spanish accent (It’s ironic how much effort I made to perfect a sentence that says ‘I don’t speak your language’. )
It was useless because Spain receives millions of tourists per year (57 million last year :-o) , so both the airport and the main train station I arrived at later have workers that speak fluent English. Take a minute to absorb those numbers btw, almost 60 MILLION tourists. In our best year, under Balala, Kenya had almost 1.7million tourists- that’s 3% of 60 MILLION. But anyway, with all Shaina-town taking over Thika Super Highway, maybe we’re up to 4 million.
Now I’m sitting in sunny Barcelona, it’s mid 30’s and humid. I have a free map from the main station, a map that points out all the tourist spots in Barcelona (they ARE MANY) and all the McDonalds in the city…very clever marketing eh? I settle for a roadside restaurant instead, enjoying the hot weather and the hotter women walking past, and an oh so sweet Estrella Damm made even sweeter by it’s relatively low price. Beer in Spain is cheaper than it is in Kenya- a 6pack can cost you less than 4 euro! Plus there are water fountains all over the place so you never need to pay for water- it’s shoe-string traveler’s paradise.
I demolish my kebab, it’s huge AND it’s affordable – I love this place! I sit back spoiling myself with another Estrella. I am tired from all the travelling, and few hours of sleep in the Netherlands. It’s hot, and I’ve had 2 beers so things are getting a little fuzzy. I sit back and write, feeling silly and cliche with my notebook, hat, backpack and dishevelled appearance like those dirty backpackers lost on Moi Avenue, but I write because I don’t want to forget.
‘I am sitting in sunny Barcelona, this is definitely the place to be! I was a little worried when my trip started out, it wasn’t going as well as I’d hoped. It was unexciting, tiring and quiet. Now I have spent €7 and I’m drinking a beautiful Estrella Damm. The taste is amazing, the wind blows my pages, the cars an arms length away from me rustle my pages too, I f***ing love this energy!’
I was accosted by a Philipino traveller here. He made me take several pictures of him and a girl he’d just met from Peru and whose perfume was so familiar (couldn’t place who I know that uses it though, I like that game). He made me use his ipad, camera and smaller camera. I indulged him though, because I would also want photos if I’d just met a girl that looked like the one he’d just met. I even suggested they move closer together for the pictures 😉 #brocode