Arrival in Amsterdam

I woke up bright and early today to catch my 10:30 flight. Well, maybe that’s not exactly true. To say that I woke up implied that I slept, and this is sadly inaccurate. It was relatively quiet when I went to bed last night, but this didn’t last for long.

I woke up to some drunken drama being discussed loudly. Not long after, a man walked into the room (politely slamming the door), walked over to the window, loudly opened it, stepped outside, and loudly shut it behind him. In my sleepy stupor,I was saddened that this was not motivated by some death wish. We all think terrible things when rudely awakened in the middle of the night.

The high volume discussion continued loudly. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep, so I decided to intervener. I quietly slipped out of the room, trying not to disturb the other sleepers who were certainly all already awake. Directly outside the door to the room, there were three girls and a guy hanging out in the hallway. The hallway! Right outside the room where people are trying to sleep! There is a common area downstairs with chairs and tables, but these jerks decided to lounge about in the freaking hallway.

I know that drunk people can lash out at innocent bystanders when unhappy, which at least one member of this group obviously was. I tried to be as nonconfronstional as possible. “Hey, I’m sorry, excuse me, but would you mind maybe if it’s okay maybe doing that somewhere else? We’re trying to sleep.”

This seemed to work. The upset girl seemed to want a way out of the conversation. Earlier through the wall, I had heard her loudly repeating that she didn’t “want to talk about it” but was prodded on by her friends.

Then, much to my horror, when I returned to the bedroom, they all pressed in behind me.

I’m going to let the universe in on a little secret. If you’re on one side of the room, whispering to your friend on the other side of the room, everyone between you guys can hear you. You’re still being obnoxious.

One was smart enough to have brought a flashlight, implying (shockingly) that it wasn’t his first rodeo at a hostel. Unfortunately, his bed was approximately across from mine, and when he set it down on his bed he pointed it directly into my face.

There are no words for the venomous anger that was in my heart at that moment. I didn’t make an uproar for two reasons: first, because it had finally quieted down and I didn’t want to disturb my fellow sleepers, who had suffered enough already. Second, he and his friends outnumbered me, and there’s really no telling what drunk people will do. Situations tend to escalate in unexpected ways.

I was the first one up in the morning. It was not a restful night. My vengeful side wanted to slam some doors and zip/unzip my bag a dozen times, but again, there were people in the room in my boat who didn’t deserve any more pain.

Everything went smoothly getting to and through the airport, exactly the opposite of last time. Scotland is the first country I’ve visited for which I have no stamp in my passport at all, and for that I’m a little bitter.

I did my best to sleep on the hour long flight, but EasyJet seats don’t recline and my efforts were futile.

I wasn’t sure exactly where my hostel was in Amsterdam or even if I would be staying there. Again, I’d run into booking complications. This time, I noticed it immediately that the confirmation of my reservation was incorrect. I’ve been in contact with the hostel all week. They claimed to have a no refund cancellation policy, that I would have to pay for the incorrect reservation and make/pay for a new one if I wanted to stay there.

I knew it was near a main train station, but not the central one. Since I didn’t know specifically where to go, the central station seemed like my best bet in the mean time. I got off here and began to look for somewhere with wifi. The rumors are true, by the way. There are twice as many bicycles here as there are people. If not three time. They’re just in piles outside of the train station. I’ve never seen so many bikes. As far as wifi goes, I settled on a creperie off the Main Street.

I confess that I was pretty cranky at this point, so I wasn’t very receptive to bad news. It was her that I ate the most expensive and most disgusting Nutella crepe of my life, and was informed that no tap water is served anywhere in the entire city of Amsterdam.

Maybe it’s just me, but nothing screams “Tourist trap that’s going to take you for all you’re worth” like being forced to pay for water. I located directions to my hostel and left most of that horrible crepe behind me.

Unfortunately for the hostel I’m staying at, I am my father’s daughter. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that everything worked out and I have somewhere to sleep tonight. without paying for it twice.

And it’s luxurious. This is the nicest hostel I have ever stayed in. It’s like a real hotel, but with strangers. It’s 8 stories. My room is on the top floor. It’s clean, like American hotel standards clean. Maybe even cleaner, with it’s hardwood floors.

It has everything you’ve ever wanted in a hostel. The bedding has that fresh, heavy-sanitation smell of a real hotel bed. The room has hand towels AND shower towels. Each bed has an easily accessible power outlet, reading light, and bedside table. There are black out curtains and a TV, and even a table to sit at. The hostel has wifi throughout, instead of in just the common areas.

The bathroom is en suite. This can be a blessing and a curse. On the bright side: it’s lower traffic, usually cleaner, you don’t have to worry about men in the showers (the Edinburgh hostel bathrooms and showers were completely coed. Individual stalls, but still! Oh, and freezing. The windows weren’t sealed), and just a general sense of convenience and privacy. There’s really only one drawback, which is that only one person can use it at a time. If someone decided to take a nice long shower and spend and hour on their makeup, and you have to pee… Well, that really sucks.

Not here!

There are two separate bathrooms: one with a toilet, one with a shower. And a sink and mirror outside with a hair-dryer. It’s also facing away from the sleeping area, so hopefully if you have the light over the mirror on it won’t be too disruptive.

It’s magical. Especially after my experience the last two nights.

The first thing I did in Amsterdam was take a nice, good nap. It feels like forever since I’d really slept. I knew I would be grumpy and unhappy if I tried to carry on as I was, so it was even guilt-free. I wanted to approach Amsterdam with fresh eyes!

I took the train back to the central station and hopped on the first tram. I took it til I felt like I was sufficiently out of the main drag of souvenir shops and tourist restaurants. My only plan was to walk around and enjoy Amsterdam.

Due to the legality of marijuana, I avoided everywhere called a cafe or a coffee shop. I’m just not interested in that, and I was afraid that with the languages barrier I might accidentally end up ordering something that I really did not want.

On a side note, someone’s Facebook status called it to my attention that tomorrow is 4/20. The irony is overwhelming. The only college student in the world who doesn’t smoke pot it in Amsterdam on that date. But I’m hoping everyone here is just over it, and it won’t be a Dublin on St Patricks Day situation.

Everything else in Amsterdam seemed to be Italian. I walked around for hours. I don’t know where I was, maybe I was just in the wrong part of Amsterdam. Everything looked expensive and inauthentic. I finally gave in and ate at an Italian place. I had the calamari, which was cheapest, but they looked and tasted like onion rings and were served with French fries. Hard to eat.

On my way back, I found out that I cannot read Dutch train timetables. Not because of the language barrier, just because they make no sense. I wandered around the Centraal Station for a while, looking for anything that would take me back through Sloterdijk. I got to experience the amazing wave of rowdy football fans who all poured off one train. It’s like the crowd leaving arrowhead, if they were all funneled through the narrow, long, low-ceilinged tunnel of a public transit system.

I made it back eventually, though, and hopefully I’ve figured out the system so it will be easier next time. It’s not hard to get to central station so my mornings are fine, and at night it’s not like I really have anywhere to be. It’s an adventure, after all!

I’m starting to get an idea of how I want to spend my time here, so hopefully I’ll have a more favorable impression of the city after what I can confidently say will be a good nights sleep, and hopefully a productive day.

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