I have to admit I love almost every aspect of travelling–the packing, the planning, the connections between multiple forms of transportation–every small situation correctly handled feels like such an accomplishment! And then there are the fun surprises–the Australian girl on the plane to Reykjavik who was ecstatic about American toothpaste–“I love Crest!”, the grim face of the customs agent in Rekyavik who looked at my bare passport (no visa, no entries, nothing) and reminded me, after I told him that I didn’t have a return ticket, that 3 mo. was the maximum stay in Europe without a visa (I missed that small detail in the aforementioned “planning”).
But now I am safely curled up on the very colorful couch in my friend Mettine’s HUGE, GORGEOUS apartment in Amsterdam. She has really come up in the world, as anyone who visited her place in Philly can attest to! (Actually, Mettine, after 30 roommates over the past 15 years, I would LOVE your one-bedroom in Philly!) I arrived yesterday at 1pm and was met at the airport by Mettine, who bought my tram/trolley/bus card (turns out Europeans all have chips on their credit cards which are now largely required, so my credit card is almost useless…another planning detail overlooked), and took me on a nice bus tour of the city. The Dutch have very efficient street transportation–there are separate lanes each for trams, cars, bikes and pedestrians. The bike lanes are especially impressive (pics to come), but although people bike around on what look like very laid-back cruisers, there is nothing laid-back about crossing their, or any other motorized person’s, path. It’s a little scary.
After dropping off my bags at Mettine’s place, we took a nice walk around her very charming neighborhood to find out about bike rentals and to get a cell phone for me–I am now almost a local! We also strolled through a beautiful park with ponds populated by squeaking ducks, and a large greenhouse which has been converted into a very swanky restaurant.
We then stopped at “Elsa’s”, a local cafe/pub, for drinks and dinner. We had a wonderful, very Dutch meal, including teeny tiny shrimp from the North Sea. I am now ready for Day Two after sleeping for 12 hours…stay tuned!