Second Vacations are the Second Breakfasts of the Soul

A small, blue, flat-roofed houseboat entrance from the street.

As usual, there’s so much catching up to do that I don’t really know where to start. Actually, there is only one place to start, the Netherlands! (Forgive the picture placement, I couldn’t get them to line up with the text the way I wanted.)

My second vacation of 2022 required me to use a passport for the first time! No, I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to post about it all either! My good friend Dr. Researcher presented at a conference in Amsterdam, and I was able to tag along and share hotel rooms for the trip. It was the most amazing experience. We arrived a couple of days before the conference started and spent two nights in Zaandam, so we could go to Zaanse Schans to see the Windmills. We stayed in a houseboat and it was magical.

A brunette woman in a black vest, black sweater, and jeans stands at the shore in front of a windmill. In the background there are other windmills in the distance.
Dr. Researcher is my new personal photographer. She got amazing shots the whole trip.
Amsterdam canal at night, dusk.  The sky is still a bit blue, but the street and cafe lights are on.
Amsterdam canal at dusk.

When we got off the train from the hotel, the whole town smelled like chocolate.
Figuring out how to pay for public transportation was a bit stressful, and I’m pretty sure we got several free rides about town. Everyone was extremely nice and made it feel comfortable. The town and the windmills were so much fun to see! We had beautiful weather, particularly for October, the whole time we were there. It was a bit windy and cloudy the day we spent in Zaanse Schans, but it didn’t rain.

After that we went into Amsterdam for the conference. There was a canal tour the first day, walking all over the city, museums, and of course silliness and fun.

Brunette woman, in a black vest and white shirt, laughing while keeping her mouth closed on a bit of food.  background is a sunny square in Amsterdam.
The Krentenbollen incident.

We stopped at street cart to try krentenbollen, which are covered in powdered sugar. In the middle of my first bite the wind blew all of the powdered sugar in my face. In true great friend fashion, Dr. Researcher laughed and took my picture before helping me get cleaned up. It will forever be one of my favorite pictures.

A modern apartment block along a canal in Rotterdam. The fronts of the apartments slope slightly outward at the base.
Rotterdam apartment block.

One day, while Dr. Researcher conferenced, I took the train down to Rotterdam. I loved it so much! I would love to take another trip to the Netherlands and make Rotterdam my central city. As crazy as it sounds, if the opportunity arose, I’d absolutely move there. Yes. It would be a major adjustment, but I felt that comfortable and at home.

There’s no way to capture what this trip did for me. It taught me so much about being present, about friendship, and about the abundance of joy and love in my life. The trip wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing friendship Dr. Researcher and I have developed out of a mutual love of Val McDermid and a fascination with serial killers. In the time leading up to this trip, everyone else in my friends-family, new and old, expressed their joy for me and kept reminding me that I deserved this trip. Getting so far away allowed me to be fully present. It was a beautiful glimpse of my authentic self, of who I can be when I show up with a strong back, soft front, and wild heart for myself.

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