So, I've been meaning to write an update about all of the bikes in this city since the day I arrived. I think I've mentioned before that they are by far my favorite thing about this city, and more specifically, the bike traffic lights are probably even higher on my list of coolest things in Amsterdam. This first picture is from just a block away from my dorm where bikers can press this button when they are stuck at a red light. As I was saying, I love the bikes in this city. There are so many of them. I think that it would be entirely impossible to walk down a single street in this city and not see at least 20-30 bikes parked and locked up on some part of the block. This town is definitely a bikers city. We were told on the second day that we were here, if anything happens between a motorist and a biker, it will always be the motorists fault, in other words, "the biker is always right." I'm starting to get much more used to riding around the city. At first I was petrified everytime I came to a busy intersection, but I guess that can be scary on foot as well as on a bike. There are just so many things to look out for in this city. Not only are there bikes and pedestrians in mass numbers. There are also numerous mopeds, cars, and trams! Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming to navigate around everything and I find myself hopping off my bike and walking it through the busiest of intersections. Luckily, there are all these bike traffic lights so that you always know when you can go and not be scared of getting run over by some other biker/mopeder/automobiler. I think it's really amazing that biking is so huge here. Not only do college kids ride bikes to get everywhere, throughout the day I constantly see: elementary school kids riding to/from school, businessmen riding to/from the office, old men and women riding anywhere they need to get to, parents riding around with their kids (sometimes up to 3 at a time) on their same bike. The parents who ride their kids around are numerous and there are numerous aproaches to where to put the kids. Of course there are the seats on the back which I know my parents used to use to ride me around when I was younger, but then there are also seats on the front, and sometimes there are big basket-type things on the front that I've seen up to 3 kids sitting in at once. Unfortunately I dont have any pictures of these things, but I hope you can imagine it from my description. Sometimes they just have the small child sitting on the handlebars and leaning back into their chest. I'm extremely impressed by this, and at the same time rather terrified that the child might fall off and crack their skull. And that reminds me of another thing, no one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE wears a helmet here. I dont think I've seen one person wearing one, not even little kids, given the conditions people often ride around in, it seems completely obsurd not to wear one, but that's just how it is I guess.
There are also bike lanes all over the city. Every major street has a bike lane on both sides so you are ussually supposed to bike on the right side of the road in the same way that cars do. But also most smaller streets have bike lanes as well, and those that dont, the biker still has the right of way basically all of the time. Another thing about biking in this city is that everyone has a bell on their bike (including me). So for pedestrians, if you ever find yourself walking in the bike lane where you're not supposed to be, it wont be very long before a little ding will tell you to clear out of the way. At first I found myself making this mistake constantly, especially during the first few days when I didnt have a bike of my own, but now I find myself on the other end of the spectrum and I am now the one dinging my bell at pedestrians in my way! Okay, I think that's about all I have to say about bikes for now, so we can move on to the second focus of this entry, pannekoeken (pancakes).
After a few failed attempts to meet up for lunch at a restaurant called Pancakes! Yitka and I finally succeeded in meeting up and having a delicious meal today. We ate it about 9 hours ago, and I'm honestly still not hungry. Pancakes in the Netherlands are on a whole other level than pancakes in the states. First of all, they dont have to be sweet, in fact, we (me, Yitka, and her friend Rebecca) all got different variations of the more savory pancakes and they were all absolutely delicious. I got a pannekoeken with spinach, onions, and cheese (just like what I like in my eggs at Black River), Yitka got a mushroom pannekoeken, and Rebecca got tomatos, onions, spinach, and cheese. These are some pictures of them, despite how huge they are, we managed to finish all of them in their entirety. I do really want to try a sweet pannekoeken, because I'm sure that would taste amazing as well. We're planning on making lunch at Pancakes! a weekly tradition, so I'm sure I'll get around to it soon.
Alright, well that's all I've got on Pancakes and Bikes, in other news, on Tuesday night Alanna, Kellan, Alisha, and I had a pretty great night at a few different bars around the city. We met some new people and made some new friends. Here's a picture of me with a cute lesbian couple we met and a funny old man that Alanna made friends with at this bar that we went to to listen to some live music.
To bring it back to bikes for a moment, we were getting around on our bikes all night, but Alisha's bike was broken so she was riding on the back of mine. We were doing great all night and then we stopped to take some pictures and in the process we both managed to fall off. Luckily we caught it all on film thanks to Alanna Beroiza, photographer extraordinaire. I like to call this series: Fuck, we fell off our bike. I hope you guys enjoyed this incredibly long post. I'm heading to Paris for the weekend to see the sites and visit Michelle (aka Cupcake)!!!. I leave tomorrow morning and will be there until Sunday night, so my next update will be about that I'm sure. As always, feel free to send me an email and say hey.