ciao (adios) italy…hello amsterdam

i spent all of last week in palermo, sicily.  what a relaxing relief from the chaos that is rome.  if you get a chance to make it to southern italy/sicily region, disregard the talks of it being dirty and unwelcoming.  yes, there is a lot of trash in the street for some reason, but i found it to be a lot better than rome.  especially at the beach.  it’s a semi-mountainous area, so you can imagine how the calm bay gave way to the soft, tan sand with rock cliffs in your panoramic view.  it really is a beautiful place.

i was taken in by another family on this trip.  friends i had made while i was in venice.  with a pretty strong language barrier, communication was limited…but true warmth and affection doesn’t require words.  they prepared home-cooked pasta, insisted i drink their wine, and made me feel very welcome in their home.  they even cleaned my laundry.  what an amazing family.  i hope to return the favor some day.

i pretty much saw the entire city by foot, even another catacombes.  i think i’m done with seeing the dead.  interesting, but this one was even more than just bones.  it was their whole bodies preserved in their clothing.  yeah, i’m def done with that.  i also witnessed a store robbery.  three teenagers were standing around conspicuously late at night in front of a store.  i rounded the corner to grab some food and quickly came back around the corner.  two of the kids were yelling under the throw-up, store-front door at their friend inside.  lots of banging around going on, and then the kid inside comes running out with the entire cash register in his arms.  leaving only a long trail of receipt paper behind them, they tore off down the street.  i figured this battle was one better left to the police, as i’m not a superhero and there probably wasn’t much money left in the register anyway…not enough for me to get “dealt with” over.  i mean, maybe they were just kids having fun, but, in my fantasy mind, they were probably in the low ranks of the italian mafia earning their merits.  i will not be sleeping with the fishes in sicily.

on my last night, i enjoyed some incredible seafood near the bay.  oysters, sea urchin (they are cut in half while still alive, and these spiky creatures are still wiggling their spikes as you soak up their insides with bread), and my favorite, zuppa di cozze (mussels).  a little white wine to boot, and i was feeling real nice as i prepared mentally for the next stop…amsterdam.

queen’s day:  the most amazing party i have ever experienced.  about 1.5 million people flood the streets of amsterdam.  every street corner or river canal bridge has a dj or a live band.  “coffee” shops everywhere.  some people just chilling and doing their thing, but mostly everyone was up and about, laughing, dancing, and moving from one incredible party to the next.  the girls in the red light district, surprisingly quite attractive, seemed to be in good spirits as i’m sure they bring in a ton of money during this event.  ugh.  i guess ya do what ya best at.

met some cool people there.  argentinians, new zealanders, canadians, australians, netherlanders, brits…it was a melting pot for sure.  and nothing seemed out of place, including the one guy on his bicycle yelling out random dutch phrases and yodeling a fierce tune, leaving an ‘s’-shaped gap in the group of people he rode through.  i will miss this place.  everyone is exactly who they are and when the city isn’t in full-on party mode, it’s a place to be marveled.  can’t wait to go back.

what day is it?

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