605. Stepping off the Thalys and into the rain. Feeling like I have yet to leave Brussels.
Almost three years ago, Amsterdam was a mini winter vacation taken between a graph theory Brazil conference and a research visit to Twente, filled with first times. First time seeing the infamous Red Square and belatedly wondering what his parents, devoted Christians, must have felt when I -- mistaking it for yet another normal G-rated touristy place -- confessed that I was very looking forward to it. First time smelling marijuana and thinking to myself that this city had a strange aroma that I couldn't put my finger on. First time sitting on the narrow flight of stairs in a dingy, cheap hotel downtown, trying to get free wireless so that I could send off yet another job application even if it was another half a year before my PhD was officially ended, almost ruining the mini winter vacation. First time wandering up and down the historic Anne Frank house, the spacious Van Gogh Museum, the long canals with white swans leisurely swimming while tourists entering colorful sex shops alongside the canals. First time watching a live sex show, discovering all sorts of interesting details in the grand total of two minutes: how white the ceiling was, how tiny the doorknob looked, etc. First time wondering to myself how I had missed out all this Amsterdam culture, and what else I had yet to know.
606. Realizing how eerily quiet a hotel room is, when you are not sharing with other people. Apart from the solo trips to Wroclaw, Warwick, and Paris, this year it has been: London 1, New York 1, Stockholm 1, Italy 2, Berlin 2. Now, Amsterdam 0.
Also, realizing that you prefer it when you are sharing with other people.