Part 1: Amsterdam + Scotland
Determined to fully live out my dream holiday, I decided to capture my trip using travel watercolors in a Moleskine watercolor notebook. I also brought along a water brush and my brand new set of Lukas travel watercolors. My first few paintings in the Netherlands were not done in the Moleskine; my American friend was bringing me the notebook when we met up later. I took along some paper of my own to suffice until then, and ended up adding some black waterproof pens that I found at The Van Gogh Museum to my kit. This begins my Amsterdam and Scotland watercolor diary.
During July 2013 and after concluding my first year of being an ESL teacher and living in the Czech Republic, I decided to take advantage of my close proximity to the many different European nations in a grandiose send-off for myself in what I could only call my dream holiday. Living in the Czech Republic, I spent my first month in Prague for my TEFL training; I also visited several cities in Germany (Nuremberg, Berlin, and Dresden, notably) for short trips and saw Vienna and Salzburg Austria in all their Christmas splendor. However, before coming to the Czech Republic, I had never stepped foot in Europe. As excited as I was to start my year long teaching adventure, my heart still longed to explore the other parts of Europe, especially the UK. To be honest, I really didn’t know much about the Czech Republic before landing there in 2012 so I didn’t realize how attached I would become to it. I knew more about the more western European countries–mainly that I wanted to spend time in them; unsurprisingly, that feeling didn’t change over the next year.
After a LONG night of saying goodbye to my Czech friends at the local pub and staying up until 3 AM packing, I headed by bus to Prague for my good friend to babysit my one big suitcase for a few weeks while I traveled with my backpack.
My first stop was Amsterdam, a write-in I decided to squeeze in to see after I read John Green’s novel, “The Fault in Our Stars” while in Czech. After falling in love with the book, I knew I had to see the city that both inspired it and in which some of the novel takes place. Some of my Amsterdam story involves me getting lost…a lot. While getting lost had somewhat to do with my directionally challenged skills, it also had to do with a communication failure with my first ever Airbnb host. Prior to this, I had only heard of how great Airbnb is; after my whole experience using it in July, I am a huge fan (despite my brief moment of panic I experienced trying to find my first stay). I can see myself only ever booking Airbnb rooms in the future if possible. Not only did I get a reasonably priced room which I did not have to share with anyone else, I also met a native Dutch woman and her two children while I stayed in her home. She made me tea one afternoon, and we sat and chatted about her life as an artist, where she comes from, where she has lived abroad, and what she hopes to do in the future. She was also kind enough to lend me her bike while I was there. Now after that, WHY would I ever stay in a hotel room or hostel again?
First watercolor–a canal in Amsterdam, near Westerpark, where I was staying. The watercolor I made just before I got lost trying to find my way back. (C) Sarah, Uncaged Traveler