It was an extended weekend, thanks to Easter. We, the 15 Indian students staying far from our beautiful country in a small city of Germany called Göttingen were finally on holidays in Amsterdam.
We woke up on a sunny Sunday in a small camping place in the outskirts of Amsterdam. The last two days were spent exploring the city from dawn till dusk. This Sunday was the final day of our tour and after considering many options from Antwerp of Belgium to Rotterdam of Holland, we were finally decided on spending the day in Den Haag – the city of Dutch parliament. Each of us had a Holland Pass with us and we could get 24-hrs of free transportation in Den Haag and free entry to Madurodam with the Tulip Card of this Pass (thanks to Ankit and Vinty for their research on the options available with Holland Card). One of us – Achintya (my friend from Stephen’s) was planning to visit Mona (another Stephanian common friend of ours) who is doing her Masters in Amsterdam. I wanted to meet her, but I wanted to go to Den Haag too. Finally, I decided on the later and the 14 of us (except Achintya) started our final day of the awesome Holland trip.
A nice morning walk took us to the nearest Metro Station. When we reached, the metro we wanted was standing on the platform. The ones walking in front could manage to enter it smoothly, while we the back-benchers ran our life to make it on time. Me and Vinty just stepped inside the metro when the doors closed. A few of the group had to wait for the next metro. This second group played cards for the whole metro ride and when we finally got re-united, Heena-Veena-Sumir-Kunde made it a point to make Me and Vinty jealous for not being there :p But little did they know the amazing time we had with the amazing songs we sang the whole way and haaah! We didn’t even tell them about the bollywood movie four of us are planning, with me and Himpriya as directors and Tanmoy and Vinty as our main actors (Oh wait! Was it to be a secret??? Oooops!! Sorry Vinty :p)
Anyways, in the Amsterdam Centraal Station, we bought return tickets to Den Haag and the train journey of one hour was spent with cards again. Reaching Den Haag, we got a day-ticket for public transport inside the city with our Holland Pass and took a tram for our first destination of the day – Madurodam (the Miniature City). The tram ride took us through the pretty small city with beautiful buildings on both sides of the road. Upsi had done her homework well for this city and she showed me many important buildings of Den Haag from the tram.
Madurodam is a miniature version of Netherlands, featuring all the important landmarks of the country on a smaller-scale. It was as if we are few giants lost in a wonderland of mini-people. We saw the dam square, royal palace, rijkmuseum, ann frank’s haus, city church and many such other places that we have visited in the last two days. We even looked at important monuments of other cities of Holland – the Leiden University, Erasmus Bridge, Groningen Centraal Station, Port of Rotterdam etc. We wandered around looking at the numerous bridges, canals, museums – all perfectly normal, but just in a way-too-smaller size than the real ones. There were railway lines with the high-speed trains on it, ships on the canals, windmills on seashore, tulip gardens and even aeroplanes ready for take-off in the airport.
After almost an hour lost in the mini-version of Holland, we all gathered in the sea-voyage side of the Madurodam. This was the fun-side filled with the children and us :p There was a big slide, sea-saw, swings, wooden-ships, rope-walls and other such things. Needless to say, the child in everyone came to life again (and though they say that Me and Vinty are the kids, but ALL of them behaved the same :p hain na Sumir? :)). I loved the sea-saw time and of course the uniquely styled slides (you should have seen the excitement in Veena and Kunde’s face). We enjoyed a lot (though the sand ruined my boots 😦 but still 🙂 it was fun)
From the Lilliput’s city, we took a tram to the Scheveningen (I bet Kunde still can not pronounce it right and I hope Upsi is yet not tired of correcting him :p). The tram ride again was beautiful – with lovely outside view and an amazing company (Priyanka, Himpriya, Vinty and me had the show-off conversations in our fake British(?) accent). The tram took us to a place which we all loved a lot – the lovely lovely beach of Den Haag!!
Granted – the water was at it’s chilliest best and the Sun was in his hiding place, but WHO CARES!! We ran through the sand, removed our shoes, dropped the bags – some of us could afford to spend few minutes folding the jeans and others just ran to the sea! The ones who remained in the shore took out their cameras and the expressions they captured did say it all – the joy of being there glittering in everyone’s eyes, the chilling cold and the shivering us, mouth wide open for the loud screams that we just couldn’t help (New Realisation – I look really bad when I scream :(). We played with the water till it became impossible to survive any longer. Our feet had lost sensation due to the cold – but returning was not an option for many of us (You don’t believe me? Ask Heena, Ask Divya :p) – once the feet go numb, anyways it cannot feel the cold anymore. But thankfully we had people in the group who were keeping track of time and were aware of the after-effects of our encounter with the cold sea at such hour in such weather. Holding back from this urge to stay in the beach forever, we did a favour to our feet and finally returned to the shore.
Next task waiting ahead of us was a bit tough – we needed to find a place to wash our feet and change the wet clothes – and well, we had no freaking idea where to go. Me and Vinty, after some 15 minutes of searching in vain, found a restaurant with a small washroom. ‘How we changed in that small small washroom and got ready’ – makes a different and funny story altogether and is better when narrated vocally. Hence I won’t take the pain of publishing it here :p Anyways, after fifteen minutes we came out, facing the weird looks of many people eating in the restaurant. Ignoring everyone, we paid the restaurant manager for letting us use the washroom and walked out silently. What a relief!! We were not shivering any more. Veena texted that they have found a washroom in a mall and are changing there. Taking the directions from her, me and Vinty walked towards the mall. On the way found a dress shop, liked a Poncho, tried and we both bought one each (No!! We ‘normally’ do not shop so spontaneously and for no-good-reason. We both are very very matured :p)
Anyways, we finally joined the others in the mall and all of us went on the pier – windy, chilly weather; an awesome, lovely view and us! What a combo 🙂 With people with a good eye (and hands) for Photography (like Pawan and Tanmoy), needless to say that many more moments were captured – few naturals and few posed ones! After few initial hesistations, me and Vinty actually removed our coats to wear the new Ponchos we bought and posed for few more pics. (It feels so nice to have another crazy kid in the group :p).
It was late – we were hungry – and the time for us to leave for Amsterdam was approaching. Grabbing some dutch patat with mayo/chilly sauce on our way, we walked to the tram. The lovely Veena made sure that every hungry person in the group is getting something to munch on (It is not for nothing that she is the loved-by-all Mother Teresa of our group). This was the last day of our tour and we still had two Shoe Cards left with us (which would have allowed us free entries in some small museums). On our way we saw a big ‘Holland Casino’ building and Avani remembered that Shoe Card allows us free entry in Holland Casino of Amsterdam. We jumped off in the nearest stop, assuming the same to be true in Den Haag too. But alas! It was not. We had to wait for the next tram to reach the station. But on the brighter side, this little break gave us two beautiful backgrounds to make group photographs (:p yes, more than half of us are crazy about either clicking or getting clicked).
After the long beautiful day, we took our train to Amsterdam. That one hour on wheels was spent playing cards by few of us (no details on this :p) while few others preferred a bollywood time with some ammmazing latke-jhatkes of Pawan and Avani (on songs like ‘O Re Piya’) and some cool moves by Sumir (with music on headphone and comments like ‘kya baat’ and ‘waah sumir’ in the background).
Amazing company, awesome place – what a day!! We came back, carrying with us some beautiful memories to be preserved for our whole life!! 🙂