Our plane was delayed for about 30 minutes on the runway. However, we still managed to arrive on time. Unfortunately, I got very sick upon landing :( That has slowed us down significantly since I have to keep stopping everyone to wait for my nausea to subside. Alex has been great, carrying my luggage for me and buying water.
We took the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal. From there, we walked to the hotel. On the way, we saw HUNDREDS of bikes! I’ve never seen anything like it. There are a LOT of parked bikes and a lot that were in use. The streets are kind of dangerous because of all the traffic: pedestrians, bicycles, trams, cars, buses.
We checked into the hotel but we were slightly early so our rooms weren’t ready yet. We sat in the lobby, desperately wanting a shower and a nap. (We didn’t sleep on the plane. It was far too uncomfortable.) We finally got to our room at 3 PM, where we proceeded to shower. Then we headed out the door. We walked around some of the canals and just watched Dutch people live their lives. It’s amazing how carefree they all seem to be!
We decided that we should probably get something to eat so we headed to an area called Koningsplein and looked for a restaurant. We settled for Kantjil, an Indonesian-inspired place. The waiters were laid back and really nice. Actually, everyone we’ve interacted with so far has been extremely nice. That’s something that we were warned about before we left for Amsterdam: people told us they were envious of our trip and that “the Dutch are some of the nicest people in the world.” And it’s true! Everyone is so accommodating, it’s unusual.
After we ate, Alex and I headed back to the hotel… and took an impromptu 3-hour nap. Oops. When we woke up at 10 PM, we were very disoriented. To wake ourselves up, we went for a walk. It surprised us how quiet Amsterdam is at night! Right outside our hotel is Dam Square, an area similar to Manhattan’s Union Square: lots of people and vendors and street performers. However, at night, it was empty. As we walked north, though, towards the train station, we found all of the nocturnal Dutchies (and lots of tourists) on the streets near the canals. Coffeeshops were swarming with customers who ordered coffee with their marijuana. Alex wanted a cappuccino and we were forced to visit three coffeeshops because they wouldn’t sell coffee without purchase of hash. We didn’t do business at places that had such requirements.
We headed back to our hotel room at around 1 AM. However, we couldn’t fall asleep until 3-ish. We watched TV until we did. There’s a lot of English/American TV here. Channels like the Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel were pretty much just the English/American channels with Dutch subtitles and local commercials. Other channels, like Comedy Central, were Dutch but played lots of American shows (with Dutch subtitles). I can’t say anything about the Dutch channels because we didn’t understand them ;)
Unrelated: Neither Alex (AT&T) nor I (T-Mobile) get cellular service here. That means no phone calls and no text messages. So email is the only means of communication that we have. (The hotel offers free Wi-Fi.) Because of this, we also can’t keep track of our friends Kate and Yehuda. We need, like, walkie-talkies or something ;)