The past few days in Amsterdam have been particularly gloomy. There really has not been any sun in at least three days. My home school is in Rochester, NY which has about as many sunny days a year as Alaska. Not quite, but almost, trust me I've checked. So I should be used to this kind of thing but it felt really rough this time. Everyone seemed to be dragging and with sleeting rain coming down at random times it became easy to huddle up in my apartment. Also Thanksgiving is tomorrow and thinking about family and friends getting together made me feel homesick, honestly for the first time since I've been here. I've missed parts of home (ranch dressing) and my friends and family of course but I hadn't felt truly homesick. Not like I wanted to get on a plane right that minute, but like looking towards another five weeks away was too much.
Then today around 1pm the sun came out. And let me tell you, Amsterdammers are sunflowers. When I walked out of class at 3pm everyone was leaned back, letting their faces bask in the glow of the sun. I actually watched a woman on her bike get distracted by her basking and hit the curb of the sidewalk. And Dutch people DO NOT stumble on their bikes...ever. I knew I had to make the most of my final 90 minutes of sunshine (the sun sets at 4:30) so I decided on a whim to go to the botanical gardens, de Hortus, or Hortus Botanicus if you're feeling fancy. I've had this place on my list of things I needed to see since the first week I got here but I'd never made the 8 minute bike ride from my apartment over there. I know the area quite well because it's on the way to one of my classes and it sits across from my favorite little park.
I cannot express how happy I felt exploring this garden. It's surrounded by the quintessential Amsterdam canal house beauty and golden hour light glinting off the building facades was almost too much to take. I ended up spending over an hour there just wandering around by myself. I got to too see a critically endangered tree that was only discovered in a remote part of Autralia a few years ago, and before that only found in fossils. That's right this is a prehistoric tree! Plants have never gotten me so excited. De Hortus also houses a redwood tree, which I've never seen before. Needless to say I left this oasis in a state of bliss and no longer homesick in the least. In fact I got a little sad upon arriving back at my apartment and seeing the most beautiful sunset from my wall of glass doors. I've appreciated this view so much since I've been here and it chokes me up to think about leaving it.
The rest of this post is dedicated to all the pretty pictures I took on my outing and later from my bedroom window.