Sunday in Amsterdam with Eva and Dennis – By @chlo_gray

By Chloe Gray


Sunday in Amsterdam with Eva and Dennis


We leave home at 3:30am to make The Great Schlep to Stansted. Not my preferred London airport. Truly I’m irked by the audacity of these faraway terminals who stick ‘London’ at the start of their names and expect us to play along. London Stansted is in Essex, as is London Southend. London Gatwick is in West Sussex and London Luton is in Bedfordshire. I’m all for exaggeration but these are filthy lies.


We get to our gate at last call and have to put our carry-on bags in the hold. We board the plane and I quickly come to realise the guy sat next to me is a manspreader. I respect the middle seat passenger’s right to both armrests, but the elbows should only protrude so far. We take off and immediately hit turbulence. Storm Dennis has already delayed our trip by a day and isn’t done toying with us yet. I instinctively grab Eva’s hand from across the aisle, squeezing it until I’m sure we’re not about to die. The turbulence subsides and I enjoy a falafel and houmous wrap. It’s still only 7:30am UK time but there are no rules on holiday. We begin the descent and are jolted into turbulence again, much worse than the first time. 


Behind us, a woman called Debbie is having a panic attack. I know her name because her friends are doing a poor job of comforting her in their shrill Essex accents. On his left, the manspreader’s girlfriend has turned green and he hurriedly opens a sick bag for her. We hit a huge bump and a voice from the back of the plane yells “YEEHAW!” Eva offers me her bag of gummy bears for the second time. “You sure you don’t want candy? It might be your last.”


Against Dennis’ best efforts, we land safely. I release Eva’s hand; it’s white from my terrified grip. I usually roll my eyes when passengers applaud upon landing, but this time I too feel relieved and grateful to continue living for a while longer.


Eva’s mum picks us up from the airport and whizzes us home to their beautiful, traditional Amsterdam house. We have breakfast: cheese croissants and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) on buttered, fresh bread. I walk around the rooms, admiring the light-filled spaces with their high ceilings, original wood floors, tasteful art, and plants adding life between vintage furniture and Buddhist trinkets.


After a much-needed nap, we wake and make coffee, drinking it at the table with Eva’s mum and sister. One by one, all of Eva’s best friends arrive; they are warm and free-speaking people. They all talk in English for my benefit and I’m filled with gratitude and admiration.

Outside Dennis blows rain against the windows while inside we drink wine and smoke hash in the glow of candlelight. The Dutch call this ‘gezellig’. 


A Pussy Riot song plays. It’s from Emma’s feminist playlist, ‘Straight Outta Vagina’. We share a glorious feast. I realise I’ve eaten eight different kinds of cheese in less than twelve hours. Lekker. After dinner, we play Dixit (a game based around stunning, illustrated cards) and sing along to disco songs before heading out into the storm. 


With just one bike between us, I take the fortunate position of passenger. Eva peddles hard against Dennis, taking the brunt of his gusts while I sit sheltered on the luggage rack behind her, enjoying the panoramic view of the city. 


We park the bike and wander down Reguliersdwarsstraat, Amsterdam’s gayest street so Eva informs me. We stop into a coffeeshop called Free One for some high-grade, Moroccan Primera and two honey teas. After a couple of drinks across the canal in Bloemenbar, I know what I need: Febo – the vending machine fast food restaurant that I happened upon last time I was in Amsterdam. To me, it is the most novel and entertaining dining experience. To the Dutch, I am told, it is as routine as a Burger King. My excitement carries me to my Kaassouffle and Vitaaltje croquette. I realise how much double-vowelling the Dutch partake in as I am squirting the mustaard.


As she cycles us home through the enduring storm, harder now that we’re filled with vodka, THC and fried cheese, Eva’s Dutchness has never been more apparent. I already feel as though I understand my friend on a deeper level after seeing her here, in context, amongst the streets and people she grew up with. I feel privileged to be here, learning more about her, meeting her friends and proudly being one of them.


I fall asleep smiling, thinking about the very lovely day I’ve had.

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