I have been living in Europe for more than 8 years now, and only this last weekend I finally visited the Netherlands. Why did I take so long to go to these “lower countries” I will never know. What I do know is that Amsterdam is now one of my favorite cities and one on my list of most characteristic places I have seen. Although the 3 activities I loved the most were admiring Vincent at the Van Gogh Museum, reflecting at the Anne Frank House and enjoying food, here I share the 5 most interesting discoveries I made during my short but intense time here.
The first time I touched Irish ground was 10 years ago when I was visiting my sister in Madrid and had a very short layover in Dublin airport. That was the first time I literally had to run to the gate shouting to the people walking idly in front of me to move and let me through (yeah like in a movie). I was the last person to get on the plane. They closed the doors behind me and sweating and totally out of breath I sat on my seat and thought to myself that I had to one day return to visit (everyone had been so nice, love here, sweetheart there). It was a strange feeling, as if I knew right then that I was going to love Ireland and the Irish. I was right.
País miembro de la Unión Europea, Malta es una pequeña isla situada al sur de Italia que decidí visitar en ocasión de mi cumpleaños. Malta tiene mucho por ofrecer, leí en varios sitios de turismo: playas fascinantes, gente amable, sitios maravillosos, comida para chuparse los dedos. No, no es así. No hay varias, sino una sola playa fascinante. La gente no es amable. Los lugares maravillosos son contados y para encontrar buena comida se debe tener mucha suerte. Malta es uno de esos lugares que se pueden visitar una vez en la vida pero que no se querrá visitar de nuevo.
When I first walked on European ground I had a very special man with me, my father. He had come to visit me in the United States, where I was getting my college degree. He had never seen the Big Apple and was thrilled to do it with his younger daughter. We were staying in Connecticut, near the New York State border, with his cousin Chiqui, a cheerful sweet person. On the day of our departure, she was to drive us to the airport. So for the next few days we needed only to relax and enjoy the city that never sleeps, literally.
After strolling through Central Park, having a hot dog, admiring the Statue of Liberty, going blind in Times Square, and enjoying Chinatown, the big day finally came. It was time to cross the pond on an airplane London bound.
We left the house four hours before our departure time, just in case we encountered any traffic jams or any other problem. As we were approaching the JFK, I turned to our cousin and said, “El JFK? No, nuestro vuelo sale de Newark.” She hit the breaks and with a wild-eyed expression said, “No, you’re kidding!” I took out our flight details, and realizing I was right, we all got very nervous. Newark airport was in New Jersey, and we had to cross Manhattan to get there. The smartest thing to do was to take a bus from the JFK. We kissed her good-bye and our adventure began with a beat.
Clock ticking. Heart pounding hard. Lines that seemed endless, a passport stamp, and a race to our gate. We made it. Traveling to the old continent had never been so intense.