My Gaelic Storm: Heineken and Tequila

Amsterdam and Barcelona are polar opposites. If the cities were high school stereotypes, Amsterdam would be the stoner everyone was friends with to score beer but then dropped out and no one ever heard from again. Barcelona is the art kid with fake glasses and a really interesting party trick.

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I have to admit, my perception of Amsterdam was tainted by the horrible weather we experienced, but there’s no way around the fact that it’s the weirdest place I’ve ever been to. Half of Amsterdam was made up of people like the guy in a gold sequined suit, platform shoes and a top hat or a magician on a unicycle who didn’t stop talking about his genitalia, while the other half just looked like the twins in the Social Network.

Barcelona was on the opposite end of the spectrum in every single way. It wasn’t just that the weather was spectacular, but the city was much more lively, full of colors and movement everywhere you look.

For the first time, I experienced what it was like to be unable to communicate with people. Every single person in Amsterdam could switch from Dutch to English without skipping a beat, but the Spanish and Catalan were not quite under the American brainwash. I used my basic “hola” and “gracias,” which often prompted people to think I was fluent and rattle off a mess of Spanish that I could not possibly decode. I would have to then embarrassingly say “no hablo español” and continue to mime my way through conversations. It made me appreciate what immigrants in America go through every day, in a way I never quite appreciated before.

If there’s one thing Amsterdam and Barcelona have in common, it’s that they both kick ass in the street food department. We tasted fresh waffles with Nutella and French fries with mayonnaise in Amsterdam, while experiencing a real burrito in Barcelona (which is a complete 180 from any American version) as well as delicious chocolate covered strawberries and bananas on a stick. I may come back with 10 pounds of myself that were never security checked on my way over, but it’s all worth it for one reason, and that’s pastries.

Up next: Ireland round 2, are they really always after his Lucky Charms?

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