The journey of a turtle shell

So my one-month anniversary with my backpack passed a few days ago.  I’ve been “roughing it” for over a month now, and the journey is more or less over.

Okay, “roughing it” is maybe pushing it a bit.  I’ve been showering daily, sleeping in some quite comfortable beds,  and definitely not surviving only on peanut butter.  But still, my turtle shell is quite heavy.  I’ll be glad to get rid of it.

Anyways, my backpack has so far survived more or less without incident.  At last check, it was 13.2kg/29lb, but since then a rather nice pair of boots made out of worn out prayer rugs have been added to the collection, so maybe it has gone up a bit.  In any case, I am on the last leg of my journey, with three more hours on the ever-lovely and timely Deutsche Bahn ICE towards Berlin.  And of course, now, in the last few hours, my über-long strap on my backpack decides to wedge itself between the armrest and the chair on the train.  Minor chaos ensues, complete with me being convinced that I will have to amputate a small piece of the bag that has been so good to me.

Enter the hungover Dutchman with a Swiss Army knife.  I have no idea who you are, but I owe you een grote bier.  None of those .18l biertjes that I accidentally bought for F last week in Maastricht (sorry!).

Also, in the past five minutes of writing, I noticed that I have not yet named my backpack, aside from generally referring to it as my turtle shell.  Coming from the girl who has named bikes (Smurf, Jan, Erik, and the German one will come soon), I surprised myself a bit with this.  But I think I can justify it by saying that one rides a bike, which justifies a name (and a man’s name at that), while one carries a backpack, which renders it very un-masculine and perhaps a bit inebriated.  Thus “the turtle shell” seems like the least insulting way to refer to the thing that has faithfully carried my stuff for a month straight with almost no problems.  German engineering at its finest.

Anyways, I spent the last 48 hours of my trip between Rotterdam and Utrecht.  Rotterdam is more or less a standing proof of the wide variety of creativity that was bursting out of Dutch architects after World War II in a country where crooked townhouses with breakneck stairs are the norm.  It is somehow reminiscent of a combination of Epcot Center and Alice in Wonderland, complete with an oddly charming yet out-of-place old white building right in the middle.  In Rotterdam I stayed with the original Dutchie in my life, who believes herself capable of convincing me to move to Amsterdam, where I will marry a tall, handsome Dutchman.

In all fairness, she managed to talk me into going up to claim Bingo at an Irish Pub when we did not, in fact, have Bingo, where I was then forced to apologize to everyone over the microphone (thankfully I am 160cm/5’4” American in the Netherlands and no one can actually see me).  So maybe she actually has a shot at this.


Utrecht consisted of the discovery that the lockers at the station were out of commission, a very disappointing find since I was quite ready to free myself of the turtle shell for 24 hours.  This was followed by a trip to one of the cleanest Dutch student houses largely inhabited by males I’ve ever seen, complete with a finely prepared frikandel.  Truth be told, I’ve never used the word “finely” in reference to a fried log consisting of some combination of mystery meat and an unknown white substance.

I never ask questions.

So, this was later followed by a conversation about the complexities of the English language, complemented by three beers on each side and a plate of nachos, and the discovery that apparently Dutch has even more exceptions and even fewer rules than English and German put together.  So hopefully my future husband won’t mind my likely inability to profess my love for him in his native language, mostly because Dutch is about as romantic as a frikandel.  But I can assure you, my pronunciation of “ch,” “j,” and “g” is impeccable.  Thank you Hebrew.


Maybe it is time to change this truck’s logo?

At present there are two men sitting behind me on the train drinking beer, so I feel that it is fair to say that we have successfully crossed the border and are now in the land of cowboys driving rocketships.

“Sank you for trahveling viz Deutsche Bahn, goodbye.”

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