Oh hi there, or should I say “Hoi”!
Well it seems that I only have time for one blogpost a week these days, sorry about that. Life has been crazy lately what with the kitchen renovations being three weeks late (work is being done as I’m writing this blogpost), our apartment being in a state I cannot describe, helping my building around the pool area and B. putting pieces of furnitures together for the past two weeks, taking some advance on the rest and it’s been wild. I can’t wait for it to be over and the apartment clean again – or at least us being able to see some floors again and not afraid to bump into boxes and furnitures.
I’ve been back on the French soil for just under 24h after 3 days in Amsterdam for a work trip with four colleagues. It’s crazy how just being away for a few days can make you feel both unsettled in your routine and feeling like I’ve been off work for ages. Well, I was working technically, but you know, not in an office in my usual environment.
We took the 2p.m. plane to Amsterdam and landed just before 4 p.m. Suitcases were collected easily and quickly so we dropped our luggages at the hotel at around 6 and then left to get registered early for the conferences of the next two days. After *finally* getting to the hotel where the conferences were taking place, we walked into town after 7p.m., tired, but so happy to be here.
The weather was not the best but we couldn’t have cared less. Something I love doing when discovering a city is walking places, no having a set agenda in mind. We just knew we were headed for around the city center and walked vaguely in that direction.
And that’s when I fell in love with Amsterdam. The calm vibe of the city, the beautiful architecture that reminded me so much of my dear England, the bikes everywhere, green and trees and water wherever you watch. I felt calm, at ease, my mind cleared from every worry that I had before I landed. Worries about my career, my goals, money and other grown up things that scare the living hell out out of a twenty-something.
An hour into our wander around, we got hungry. Well, I should say starving because by then we hadn’t eaten anything in 6 hours. We got out our trusty TripAdvisor app and after a few mishaps, chose to eat at “Café Amoi“, an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam West.
The waiter seated us at a gorgeous little table near the entry, above the rest of the restaurant. We loved having our little corner to laugh and talk. I ordered a Spicy lemon and rose lemonade and it was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had. For food, we all ordered a main and shared three carb sides (Yellow rice, Fried rice and Fried noodles) and two vegetable sides (“Gado gado” and “Sambal tempei Buncos”. Let me tell you that a lot of happy Gaby dances were made throughout this meal. The food was delicious, the service was quick and the waiter really nice, patient and happy to advise us and inform us (Amoi means little sister in Indonesian, how cute!”. We spent hours enjoying our food, talking about life and tv shows. We laughed so much and thoroughly enjoyed this experiences.
At 11p.m. we ordered an Uber and were back at our hotel by 11:30 p.m.
(Our hotel was the Tulip Inn Amsterdam Riverside. It was one of the hotels on the travel website of our work’s travel company and it was quite nice, with large and clean rooms and bathrooms, a big tv and nice clothes hanging area. Buffet was breakfast style and delicious with a lot of choice.)
After a delicious large breakfast at the hotel, we headed for the three conferences of the day. The event had planned a dinner for every participant to come around and dine and dance. We decided to walk there and it was a great decision. We walked some more around Amsterdam but through different neighborhoods. It was as beautiful as the day before, with more canals and gorgeous buildings. As the venue was in the city center, I got to see more of the core of the city and loved it. Of course, there was more people there and more tourists, but I still marveled at how pretty and cool everything was.
We arrived at the venue at around 7:30 p.m. (stylishly late shall we say) and were greeted with Prosecco for my colleagues and a delicious fresh orange juice for me. I could tell by that point that the fatigue was taking a toll on me. I was having a harder time dealing with how loud it was, how dark the venue was (I don’t care that it was meant to “stylish”, I like to see where the doors are in the bathrooms) and how much out of my introverted, anxious self it took.
Food was devine, red and yellow tomatoes with mozzarella di Bufala (my fave), wild mushrooms risotto (needless to say I took two servings) and red berries cheesecakes and tiramisus. After a panic attack in the bathroom and deep chats with my colleagues/friends (they are the best, they handled the situation so well after I got back, red-eyed and very tearful), we danced for three straight hours on the underground level dance area. I have never danced like this in my life. Never for so long, never with that many people watching, never without caring what people thought. I was just in the moment, having the time of my life laughing and singing and jumping around on Rihanna and Bruno Mars. When 1 a.m. struck and the party was over, I hadn’t watched my phone in nearly three hours. We ordered a cab, laughing, and I got into bed before 3 a.m., sore from the dancing and really happy and proud of myself.
Hum, let’s say waking up was not easy. I already had had trouble sleeping after 6 a.m., my usual wakeup time, the days before but waking up after three hours of sleep and just three hours of waking up constantly, I wasn’t feeling too fresh – all five of us weren’t. After breakfast, we headed back to the conferences and at 2p.m. I went outside to wait for an Uber to take me to the airport.
The 6 hours it took me to travel back home were an experience. I hadn’t traveled on my home in 5 years and was quite anxious about it. Traveling is already and anxiety trigger for me, so doing it on my own stressed me out. But I’m quite happy with how well I handled it. I was a bit anxious, yes, but didn’t panic, stayed focused (even wandered a beauty shop) and found my way to my gate easily. I didn’t panic on the place but rather feared I as going to miss my bus shuttle as we were half an hour late. I was just really, really, really tired.
Though this trip triggered two panic attacks in 3 days, I am very happy I went on this trip. Firstly because I didn’t let my anxiety stop me from living my life and fulfilling my commitment to this work trip. But also because I had an amazing time. I feel like this trip showed me that I am stronger than I thought. I can do things on my own, no matter how much they scare me. I have created a special bond with the women I went on this trip with, relationships that wouldn’t have been like this if I hadn’t gone. I’m very grateful they were with me because I felt safe, comfortable and cared for with them.
I was so ashamed when I got out of the bathroom but not once did they make me feel uncomfortable about it. Even best, they understood and could relate. One of them is going through the same issue with panic attacks and talking about it was so special. Yes, it made all of us cry a bit, but it was so helpful to know that I am not alone and that she understood. Dancing our hearts out afterwards was so special. They didn’t push me to go, they wanted me to do things at my pace. And went I finally felt better and let loose of everything, the night got really special.
I’ll always remember this night and smile. Smile because the panic attack wasn’t allowed to shade this wonderful night – it actually made it better and more special. I laughed so hard, and danced so much, and sung so loud that my throat was sore the next day. And how amazing is that?
After this deep chat, let me share with you a few other shots of Amsterdam. Do let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been and your recommendations! And if you haven’t visited Amsterdam , would you like to go there or are you more of a coast destination traveler?