On the 17th of July (over a month ago!!) Candace and I said goodbye in the Istanbul airport as she boarded a plane to Milan and I flew back to Amsterdam. Candace volunteered for the week in Lecco, helping with the Junior World Championships and I met up with Thomas in A'dam so the two of us could drive down to Lecco together. Before leaving, we went out with his friends and cruised around the canals in one of their boats...one of my favorite things I've done so far, the city is beautiful from the water and it only gets better at night. We got to swim once we were in the open river and had drinks and dinner at this hip place on the water. That, with a little bit of riding around on the back of Thomas' bike was it for Amsterdam, short and sweet. The next morning we loaded up about half of Thomas' flat and were off to Brussels!
this was windmill -- watch the video!
I have no idea where to start with Windmill...I feel like its impossible to do any of it justice. Such an incredible experience. Candace & I volunteered starting the Monday before the tournament. That first day there were maybe 15 of us volunteers, all camping out at the field site. I wish I had taken a picture from the same spot each day to show the transformation of the park. There was nothing but open space when we arrived and by the end of the week we had built this entire village. I've never been a part of anything like it. We put up the biggest circus tent imaginable, laid the floors, built the bars, rigged the lights, everything. I got to use a jack hammer and a boat load of other power tools I should have never been given. I loved it, true manual labor but seeing everything come together was so rewarding. Candace, myself, and one of the funniest guys I've met (miss you Ben) lined almost every single one of the fields...all part of the 12 hour work day. All the volunteers were incredible and we formed some really strong connections, Candace & I have people to visit all around the world now.
The volunteering was just one side of Windmill...once the tourney started Candace & I got to play with Element, the National Mixed team from Israel. Also an incredible experience. Its amazing how quickly you can bond with people over sports. It was a little tough adapting to their play style but ultimate is ultimate & it was so cool to play teams from all over the world. I picked up some basic Hebrew like let's go take a bath (one of their cheers) and Candace & I are thinking about squeezing in a trip to Israel to visit everyone. We'll see them in Lecco late July for Worlds regardless!
I ended up bartending at night after playing because they needed extra help...thank goodness it was just beer or else I would have been totally lost. I got to meet so many people, have too many free drinks, and learn about the world of cheap Dutch beer.
So even with volunteering and playing we still got to spend time in the city and get a feel for the Netherlands outside of ultimate. Amsterdam is a beautiful city...I could really see myself living on the outskirts one day. The city center itselfs is pretty touristy but the canals and achiteture are amazing. I really connected with one of the local guys at the tournament and he showed me all the best parts of the city. He took me along the Amstel, through the country side, and we even made it to the beach one night. He showed me a totally different side of the Netherlands which I'll always be thankful for. Its a beautiful country. Hartelijk beddankt Thomas.
Things I've learned:
- always pick up your long skirt on an escalator...sort of got stuck and had to be pulled out (probably my moms greatest fear turned reality)
- mingle mingle is a big dea
- starting a conversation with the person next to you in a public shower is normal
- dutch men are incredibly lovable