Seeing as living in Europe for a year is probably up there on the “Opportunities of a Lifetime” list, I figured I should get some sort of book to help me make the most of it. So over the creek and through Union Landing to Border’s Books I go. First I browse the bargain section, which always seems to have a plethora of books about travel and I figure one of them has got to come in handy. NOTHING! All I found was a “501 must see sights around the world” (which doesn’t even begin to compare to “501 must drink cocktails”) and which means about 4/5 of the book is completely useless to me while I’m in Europe. I’ll save that one for when I decide to make a trip around the world. Oh and I also found a California facts book which had fairly ridiculous trivia – did you know Anaheim was founded by fifty German families and means “home by the river?” Interesting? Yes. Useful? Hell no.
So after surrendering to the fact that I would probably have to pay more than $10 for a useful book, I headed over to the travel section. First of all, Border’s needs to clean up and organize their little travel section and get a hold on their subdivisions. “Safari in Madascar” under U.S. travel? I don’t think so. I finally found the Europe section, but then I had to find “General Europe” – not France or Spain or London…just all over. You’d think with the amount of students and people that decide to do this every summer, there’d be a display or something. Granted it’s not summer really anymore…Anyway, there were two shelves worth of books, so I figured the best way to choose one would be grab a couple and hunker down in the nice window side sofa’s Border’s likes to provide it’s happy customers…couches = full. So instead I bend down and sit my bottom in the middle of the travel section to let passersby step over me as they please.
First couple books all have the same information…which I can understand because really all of these books are about the same places right? So I find a “Europe on a budget” book. Being an aupair doesn’t exactly rake in the big bucks, so I figure if I really want to travel a lot, it’s gotta cost a little less. Let me tell you, there’s something completely ironic as well as moronic about charging thirty freakin' dollars for a “budget” book. The book on living on a budget…is not in my budget. I doesn’t really matter though because I don’t necessarily want to do everything on a budget. I need to splurge every once and a while, and these books aren’t going to tell me how to do it.
So my dad decides to do his own amount of reading (he was able to snag a couch the lucky bastard) and I figure if I let him choose it, I can probably get him to pay for it as well…bwahaha. So I begin to browse the “Netherlands” section instead. The majority of the books are on Amsterdam alone, so choosing one to tell me about all of Holland was a little difficult. Finally I got it down to two, both of which seemed witty as well informative. And it had things to do for all budgets…I like when books don’t discriminate.
After about two hours of perusing, with a sore butt and kinked back, I decide to call it a day without buying anything. Because all of these books were fairly expensive, I instead decide to check our Amazon.com, which always has cheap used versions of most books. After I got home, I searched for the books I liked as well as some new ones. Now one of the reasons I love (and at the same despise) shopping on the internet, is that there’s always a little section entitled “You might also like…” And in this section were NOVELS…ABOUT THE NETHERLANDS! Well of course those were added into my cart.
So…after around four hours of research, (and one credit card courtesy of my mother) later, I have compiled the Complete Literary Package to spending a year in the Netherlands with travel trips to the rest of Europe. May I present…
Europe for Dummies – I mean let’s face it, I kind of am one. And when it comes to travel, not only can I be dumb, but naïve as well. And it divides each section up into great mini guides. I can go through it and just check off things I want to do…perfection.
Fodor’s Amsterdam and the Netherlands (with Day trips to Belgium) – I hadn’t even considered visiting Belgium! And it’s apparently right there! I love this book because it focuses on fun things to do “in the city” but that’s only one part of it. With this, I shall become the master of Holland!
UnDutchables – This book focuses on the customs and cultures of the Dutch people. I may not be as tall as them, by dammit, I can learn to be like them. There’s also a website inspired by the book with an apparent cult following - http://www.theundutchables.com/
My ‘Dam life, by Sean Condon – A humorous autobiography of an unemployed man and his unemployed wife and their decision to move to Amsterdam for three years.
Acid House, by Irvine Welsh – From the guy who brought you Trainspotting, comes a collection of stories, the majority of which take place in the infamous red light district…should be a good (if not slightly intimidating) read.
So there you go. I leave in less than three weeks, and by the time I get on that train, I will be ready for the culture clash of my lifetime!