Monday, 29 July 2013

Postcard id: ID-24872, The Alchemist, Coldplay, Amsterdam in 6 (six) hours

Amsterdam, July 29, 2013

Friendship could be started with any form of way. One of my unique friendship is started by sending a postcard  to a Dutch girl named Carmen van Mol whose address I got through, a web which enables its members to randomly send and receive postcard to and from other members from all over the world. 

From her profile, I knew that Carmen whose user name was Dunan19 was studying at Belgium at that time. There she stated that she liked good quotes and requested the sender to tell her about the recommended/good music to be heard. Therefore I told her that one of my favorite quote taken from the book titled "The Alchemist" written by a Brazilian author named Paulo Coelho.
"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
For the music, I forget whether I mentioned Kings of Convenience or Coldplay or both as my favorite musician(s). I also told her about my ambition to take master degree in Europe.

Postcard id: ID-24872, distance:11,326 km (7,038 miles), time travel: 22 days
It had been 22 (twenty two) days for the postcard which ID was ID-24872 to reach her address in Helmond, 11,326 km (7,038 miles) away from my town. I felt glad to know that she commented that she liked and even favorited that postcard that I'd bought in Alun-Alun Indonesia, a well known merchant selling traditional gift and souvenir located in Grand Indonesia Mall.

I never thought that our connection will be continued. She sent me a direct message and asked me to send a friend request to her facebook account. We also follow each other's twitter and instagram, and communicate through WhatsApp too. One of unique fact is we have consecutive birthday. Mine is July 18 and hers is July 19. She is 2 (two) years younger than me.

We quite often share our stories including picture and video to each other. What I remember most is her video while riding her bicycle to show me her neighborhood in Helmond. I'd love to send her the video my friend  recorded while I was on offshore duty but.. since I am a very good procrastinators until now I haven't sent it to her and the video is still on my friend's mobile phone and I have lost contact with that friend. *lame-excuse*

A pic of Coldplay's concert that Carmen shared to me

Both of us love Coldplay. But... she's much more damn luckier than me. While I still wait that one day I can get my chance to see that British rock band concert, she has attended their concert 3 (three) times. I repeat again, 3 (three) times!!! One was in Goffertpark, another one was in Nijmagen and the latest one was in Amsterdam. Aaaaaaa... I do really envy her. But she is so kind to me, she shared some photos she captured  and also 1 (one) audio file she recorded while attending the concert. Bedankt Carmen! :D

Among the Coldplay songs, my most favorite one is 'Yellow'. I do really really love that song from their first album, Parachutes, because of its super wonderful and touching lyric. While Carmen most favorite one is 'Fix You'. Both of us also love the 'Green Eyes'. She loves it because she has them. While I love it because of quite similar reason. My German Shepherd has them. Hahaaa!


It was a sunny Monday dated July 29, 2013, was the day I and Carmen met in Person in Amterdam. It had been supposed that the train carrying me from Copenhagen arrived at Amsterdaam Centraal Station ad around 11 AM. But... due to one and any other thing my train arrived there at around 3 PM.  I had made her waiting too long. I felt so sorry for it. I felt a such great feeling at the first time seeing her who was clothed in green cardigan, blue jeans and red sneakers. Aaaaa her style is so similar with my daily style. From the station, we went to a store where we could buy a tourism city map prized 2 EUR. I thought that it would be free as per in other European countries I had visited before :P

The first place we visited was the area which I had curiosity most to visit i.e The Red Light District in De Wallen. After passing by some small alleys, we arrived there. Wohooo... There we saw cabins rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red light. Well, as women actually we were so shame (or could I say embarrassed) seeing those kind of things. We also saw a number of sex shops, sex theaters, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana. In my opinion, it's such an irony that the center of Red Light District is Oude Kerk.

Nationaal Museum Amsterdam © Sita Ariana Pangestu (2014)

Enough with the Red Light District, we went to Nationaal Monument in Dam Square. It was so crowded with people at that time. There we sat in the outer ring of the monument, near one of two lions statue sculptured there. I let have myself a break for a while. I put off my big carrier and drank my water. 

Nationaal Museum is a 1956 World War II monument designed by Dutch architect J.J.P. Oud. There are several sculptures by John Rädecker and his sons Han and Jan Willem Rädecker and reliefs by Paul Grégoire surrounding that covered-by-white-travertine-stone monument. The pillar carries an inscription in Latin:
Hic ubi cor patriae monumentum cordibus intus quod gestant cives spectet ad astra dei.
"Here, where the heart of the fatherland is, may this monument, which citizens carry in their heart, gaze at God's stars."

In the west side of the square, in the opposite of the monument, there is and Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace of Amsterdam) which was built in 17th century. At first the building was intended to be a town hall then later on it becomes the palace which is used by the monarch for entertaining and official functions during state visits and other receptions. The palace and theh Nieuwe Kerk located next to it are the places for abdication and also investiture of kings and queens of Netherlands. Two latest Dutch royal family occasions held there were the royal wedding of PrinceWillem-Alexander and Princess Máxima on 2002 and the abdication of Queen Beatrix and the investiture of King Willem-Alexander on 2013.

Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace of Amsterdam) © Sita Ariana Pangestu (2014)

Related to history of Indonesia, on 27 December 1949 the palace's central hall (Burgerzaal) was the scene of the official ceremony for the transfer of sovereignty over Indonesia by the Netherlands (Soevereiniteitsoverdracht), represented by Queen Juliana and Indonesian vice-president Muhammad Hatta.

Before continuing our walking trip, I and Carmen exchanged birthday present to each other. I gave her a small handmade orange purse from Kalimantan. In return she gave me a lovely card in the pink envelope with the titled 'for my special friend, Sita' and the picture of big baloon in silver ink. I opened the card and red the letter written on it. There she stated that she would sent me a birthday box containing some special sweets and snacks from Holland to my house in Indonesia. HWOOO!!!  I was so excited about that. She's really really my special friend. Can't wait to receive that package soon :D

From the Dam Square, we visited HEMA, a well known Dutch retail chain that in simply could be considered as department store. We visited one of its branch which is located in 208 Kalverstraat. In the down stair, it sells for food (snacks) and daily necessities good. There I bought some souvenirs (as oleh-oleh) for my family. I bought an apron and a set of mugs and a can in blue and white color with printed of Dutch special features such as windmills, klompen shoes, tulip flowers, etc.

Cute pink famous Tompouce sold at HEMA.

Going up stair, there are clothes section and also a kind of cafeteria/food court. Carmen was soooo really kind to me. She bought us two pieces of different cakes. I am sorry I forget one of them. What I remember most is the TOMPOUCE. It is oblong pastry containing custard pudding, covered by a pink sweet layer. Lekker!!! I love it sooooo much.

From HEMA, we continued to walk along the Kaverstraat, a busy shopping street in Amsterdam. The we would find so many stores and also restaurant. In Dutch monopoli game, it becomes the most expensive area to be purchased. After passing by the whole Kavelstraat we found a tower named Muntorren in the Muntplein square, where the Amstel river and the Singel canal meet.

Carmen told me that 'The Alchemist' was the book she always wanted to read but she when visiting book store she had reluctance to buy it because that thin book was in the same price with the thick one such as 'The Da Vinci Code' of Dan Brown. After receiving my card she was like... This is meant to be! Finally she bought that book. later on she told me that when reading the book, it reminds her about our friendship.

Rembrandtplein © Sita Ariana Pangestu (2014)

We continued our walk and passed the Reguliersbreestraat to reach Rembrandtplein, the major squared in Amsterdam named after the famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn. Here I also found an Indonesian restaurant. Though I missed Indonesian food so badly, I hold myself for not eating there because I believed the price would be out of my meal budget. Moreover within next 24 hours I'd be home and could eat as much as I want.

From the Rembrandtplein, we passed the Herengracht canal then turned to the right and walk along beside Amstel canal. We crossed the canal through Sarpathistraat and walked along beside the Amstel again but in the other side. Along the canal, there were so many boats both passing the canal or just being anchored. Some boats are for tourism and some are for living. 

The picturesque Amsterdam' canal © Sita Ariana Pangestu (2014)
We continued our walk along the Amstel canal. We passed by Carré, a Neo-Renaissance theater.We passed by (or saw) Mageerebrug (the skinny bridge). Then we passed by Hermitage Amsterdam.before arriving at a square consisting of Muziektheater, Stadhuis and Waterloplein. We passed the Staalstraat before somehow we went back to Rembrandtplein.

Along the way, we passed by a flea market. I forget where exactly it was. There were many stalls sold souvenirs, postcard, clothes and any food/snack and any other Dutch specialties. I bought some klompen refrigerator magnet there. i also tasted the stroopwafels sold in one of the stall. I immediately fall in love with this snack with little thin of caramel between two crisp waffles. Knowing my excitement after testing that snack, Carmen told me that stroopwafels would be one of the content of happy birthday box to me.
Ginger white chocolate cheesecake

We went to Japanese restaurant named Wagamama located in Amstelstraat 8 for dinner (though I guess it was weird to call it dinner while the sun was still bright). Carmen ordered chicken katsu with mountainous rice. I ordered a bowl ramen. I was quite surprised when our food came. My ramen was served in a super big bowl. It was the biggest portion I ever had. For the dessert we shared a slice of white chocolate ginger cheesecake. The cake was so soft  and the chilli toffee sauce was so yummy. They were combined to make a very delicious cake. Fortunately, Carmen brought her student card hence we could get 20% discount for the cake.

Six hours went so fast. Then... finally time for me to go came. She accompanied me back to the Centraal Station. I should take the train to bring me to Schiphol Airport to catch my flight back to Indonesia.

Wefie before my departure to Schiphol airport
Well, there is an end for every beginning. And pfffhhh time to end my Eurotrip came. Good bye my very special friend, Carmen. You gave a very sweet ending for my Eurotrip. Someday, for sure, we WILL MEET AGAIN in person!!! *crossingfinger*