Every day in Europe I am thankful for the graphic smoking commercials in the United States.
I could not tell you how many different local cheeses I sampled today. I can tell you that the worst one I ate tasted better than some chocolate cake I've eaten.
Gouda is home to the soil that grows the good grass that feeds the cows that make the milk that creates Gouda cheese. It's made in lots of places, but it started here and a lot of places use powdered milk from the cows here to make Gouda. The Gouda that I ate, however, was straight up Dutch and should not be allowed to taste as good as it did. It took actual won't power to stop sampling.
I also ate 3-year-old cheese. It does get better with age.
Besides Gouda, where I went to a cheese museum (I've been to butter, cheese and chocolate museums -- throw a bread one in there and I have a French treat tray covered) I went to Haarlem. On the way, I passed by an actual old-timey totally Holland cliche country windmill. I'd seen a couple in the city, but the effect is not the same. However, I did not get a picture, so you'll have to trust me.
Haarlem was very pretty. Had I had a map and not gotten there after everything but the bars had closed, I suspect I would have really enjoyed it. As it was, I walked around for an hour and then got back on the train.
And now, my friends, I'm going in search of a Dutch dessert. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Here's hoping I am not sharing my personal space with a guy having his own kind of dessert a la the cafe this morning.
But wait, there's more! Call now and get an extra adventure.
So, the whole point of hostels, besides their cheapness (which is the actual point for me) is to provide social opportunities. So tonight, after I finished writing this, I steeled myself to be social. At the next table was a woman who was living in Germany for work; she gave me her employer's name to see if they're hiring.
Then I asked if she wanted to go to the cafe for dessert. It was stressful. Making friends is about as nerve-wracking as dating.
We went to a nice restaurant instead of a cafe, were summarily kicked out when we ordered dessert only ("I'm sorry, dessert is for after dinner. You can't just have dessert." Who runs this restaurant, my mom?), then wandered through the red light district eating treats and swapping traveling stories. We find the condomerie. We giggle at the people ogling into darkened windows. She concurs with my confession that every time I see a massage sign I wonder if it's actually massage or if it's "massage." She tells me the friend she's with wants to get baked and then lay in the park for hours staring at the clouds. Good times had by all.