15 June 2012

Benelux #3

I call it the "Hootananny Hostel." The proprietor is Cousin Dan.

The name comes from when I was scurrying to grab a last minute accommodation the first time I traveled to London. I found a spot called the Hootenanny Hostel. I was so blown over in awe of the name that I immediately tried to book a reservation. I was slightly dismayed when I found out that it restricted it occupants to only females with long-term housing commitments. I shared the humorous find with Cousin Dan, and we had a little joke that I could dub his place the "Hootenanny Hostel" and stay whenever I pleased despite my male gender.

Located in the heart of the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, Cousin Dan's place has served as base of operations for both of my trips to Holland. It is a short walk to the train station, across the canal from both the oldest Protestant Church in Europe, and the house Anne Frank hid out in during WWII. But being in a prime locale contributes but a mere fraction to the appeal; the rest of the credit belongs to Cousin Dan himself.

Cousin Dan studied two subjects during his undergraduate education at UCLA: Economics and Festivities Management. He spent the majority of his time focusing on one, and got a degree in the other. More than any other person I know, Cousin Dan has the knack to create memorable moments and accentuate life and good company through celebration and recreation.  

Once all the 15 minute craziness died down with not knowing where we were going to stay, Sam and I trotted off to the HH to connect with my family. What made this time in Amsterdam most excellent was the fact that not only would I see Cousin Dan again, but also his parents (whom I lived with many summers growing up) and my dear Auntie Sue!

We were heartily welcomed by the whole crew when we arrived. One of the traditions Cousin Dan observes when family and friends come to stay is to provide as much gastric happiness as he can. Tonight's special was warm roast beef sandwiches on Auntie Sues favorite fresh "pistolets," with a few genuine Dutch side dishes. We ate, and caught up each other on our travels, skyped with our family across the sea, and had a truly lovely evening.

I was amazed how at home I felt 5,000+ miles away from my mailbox. It just goes to prove to me that the family connection is something unique and powerful. It doesn't hurt either that I have the most amazing family of all time though... :)

The next day I combined visiting with my family with another one of my favorite things: visiting beautiful places.