After living in the edges of Europe going on five years, this vision was finally fulfilled. I went to Amsterdam for a 3 day layover before heading back to Kyiv. Everywhere I looked, I saw my dad, grandfather, grandmother, aunt and uncles. They were in the sideways smile of a stranger, the bouncy purposeful walk, the ladies on the bikes with my grandmother's and aunt's nose (which is a rather cute nose!), the friendly shop keepers who were kind enough to engage in conversation, the families huddled in a cafe and the quick sense of humor. It was like going to a family reunion for 3 days. However! There were some striking places that made me laugh imagining my family there: the pot coffee shops and the Red-Light District just to name a few.
My first impression of Amsterdam wasn't that flattering. We found ourselves in the middle of a New Year celebration (it was the 2nd of January) on a street filled with Chinese restaurants. The firecrackers were ear-ringingly loud, the streets were filthy and we were surprised to be suddenly walking through The Red Light District. But then, we found a small restaurant and warmed up with a bowl of soup and a beer. The following two days improved drastically.
Was this my last trip to the Netherlands? I hope not. I still imagine myself knocking on the door of my great-grandfather's cottage asking to explore the grounds or biking in through the tulip covered countryside. Someday, with my father by my side, I will explore again. Just because I'm leaving Europe after this year, doesn't mean that dreams die.