Happy Independence Day all the way from the Netherlands! Today we went to Den Haag (The Hague), which is the capital of South Holland. The weather was absolutely gorgeous in spite of the rain predicted in the forecast, so we stayed on the beach where the North Sea touches the coast. The water was cold but so impeccably clear that you could hunt for seashells through the water. We wandered up and down the boardwalk, ate seafood, jumped on trampolines, and grabbed ice cream cones on the pier. I don't think we could have spent the 4th of July in a more perfect way.
After a long work day of playing with kids and learning Dutch, we went and toured the Amsterdam Arena which is home to the AFC AJAX soccer team. The team is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz so each member of the tem has a car parked there and we found out that they are not allowed to drive anything else or it is a breach of contract! Another thing that was crazy was the difference between the visitor and home locker rooms. The visitor room was nice but completely bare. We were told that it only has 10 showers when there are 11 people that play, so was it done on purpose or was it actually an accident? No one will ever know!
When in Amsterdam and the surrounding cities, the one thing you'll notice is that there are bikes everywhere you look. Bicycles are the most common mode of transportation here; there are even lanes on the streets dedicated just for bikes. The bikes always have the right of way, and, as many of our tour guides have said, "Hear a bell, run like h***!" You'll see all sorts of bikes here, from tandem bikes, bikes with baskets, and even bikes with baby seats. Seeing how huge the bicycle culture is here makes me feel like we should utilize this system more often back home.
Tomorrow we begin our volunteer training and finding our locations, so hopefully our first few days using the local transit system have prepared us well! I can't believe we only have a week left here, and I hope it lasts as long as possible!