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A thoughts from Places video In which John Green discusses his trip from Indianapolis to Amsterdam in the Netherlands (where his novel Paper Towns is a finalist for a literary prize).


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A Bunny
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((') (')
(Crowd: Good morning, Hank, it's Friday!)

Good morning, Hank, it's Friday. I got up around 5:30 -

(John: All right, let's go.)

- put this stuff in this bag, and printed out my itinerary. Willy always knows when I'm leaving. Marina drove me to the airport -

(John: Say hi, Marina.

Marina: Hi, Marina.)

- which was mostly empty, and I took off for Atlanta. I read a good book on the way, landed in Atlanta where I had a couple hours to kill. I always look for interesting places in airports, like this tiny, interfaith chapel, where someone had inked in the direction of Mecca, and Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize, and this portrait of Chewbacca's silhouette straddling the galaxy, and this lady, whose knee is apparently delicious.

And then I got on a plane to Munich and kept glancing into the aisle nervously, hoping that no one would sit next to me, and no one did, so I took a sleeping pill, but it didn't work, and three hours later I found myself delirious in the airplane bathroom with a camcorder.

(John: I am like a tranquilized elephant. I will not go down. I'm not going down.)

The flight lasted nine hours, and I never fell asleep, but I did get to see the sun rise from thirty-six thousand feet above the ground, and it occurred to me that until a century ago, no one in all of human history had ever seen that.

Then we landed in foggy Munich, and I had a pretzel. I was by this time somewhat worse for the wear.

(John: My mouth tastes like dead rat.)

But then I was flying to Amsterdam, the city I love most in the world. I love its adorable kissing doors, and I love its parachuting Christmas donkeys, its bicyclic abundance, its humorously small trash cans, its gorgeous canals, its apparently modest prairie dogs, its 'vlaams frites,' its uncommonly well-balanced citizenry, and its beautiful old canal houses.

Like all great cities, Amsterdam brims with contradictions. Maps of the red light district are dominated by a church. Swans swim up the canal while on the banks of that canal a woman stands half naked in front of a glass door waiting for customers. Amsterdam is both the city that hid Anne Frank and the city that gave her up. An ancient city perpetually experiencing new construction. A city full of boats that separate you from water and contain water.

These same contradictions are in all of us, or, they're in me, at least. And so I forgot that I'd been awake for thirty hours and kept walking, grateful to be a little boat full of water, still floating.

Hank, I'll see you on Monday.