Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Welkom in Nederland

Hallo, all. It is 3pm here in Amsterdam, my second day here.

Yesterday was the longest day I've had in a really long time. Happily, I think I'm mostly recovered already.

The trip to the airport was very smooth and easy; in fact, it went so quickly that I got to the airport three hours before takeoff. Early nerd. The plane ride, however, was not so easy. Those seats! I felt like an arthritic old woman; I could not get comfortable at all. My back was slouched--even with their limp pillow as a backrest--and my neck was jutted forward. It all was rather painful, all due to those confounded airline seats. Boo! Also, I tried to rest, but again, could not get comfortable. Thus I developed not only a severe neck crick and back pain, but a nasty dull headache of fatigue.

I watched the movie Scoop, and started but did not finish two other movies. It's neat how you can pick a movie and watch it whenever you want, with at least twenty to choose from. I did not read at all, which is unusual for me. I'll attribute it to fatigue and seat pain.

Eventually we landed, at 6am in the pitch black Netherlands morning. All the signs in the airport are in English, and many are in only English. Most things were closed because of the early hour, but I saw an airport mini Rijksmuseum, and a massage station (my neck groaned a big complaint when I saw that). I got cash and went to wait for bags.

Once my shiny new suitcase (silver, so it stands out from all the black rolling bags) arrived, I bought a train ticket into town, rode silently in the dark, and arrived at Centraal Station.

I exited the station and was confronted by my first glimpse of Amsterdam, still in the predawn dark. Big buildings with holiday lights and neon names. A mass of bikes parked. My first Dutch canal. It was extremely surreal to suddenly be here, and not just because I'd not slept.

As it turns out, the hostel I booked is only a few blocks from Centraal. What a blessing! You have to walk in a couple of winding alleys, but it was easy to find the place.

Sadly, I could not check in til nine, so I took a desperate nap in the common room, which is chock full of large pillows. Man, that felt so wonderful.

Soon I got checked in, and later I brought my things up the very shallow stairs (banging my shoes into the staircase at every step) to my bunk room.

I put on my garish but so warm magenta scarf and purple hat, and set off to take a look around and get oriented. I walked down Damrak to what I later found is called Dam Square. I walked back to the station to get some snacks and some headache drugs. Not only was I exhausted, the various kinds of smoke in the hostel were nasty and only worsened the headache. Yuck. But, get used to it; it's Amsterdam.

The weather is chilly, gray and sometimes drizzly. It makes a dull pallor hang over everything, so I think my pictures won't be as pretty as if I were here in the sunny season.

Real quick, because a window is open nearby and I can hardly feel my fingers, yesterday I visited the Anne Frank Huis and today I already went to the Van Gogh museum. I've made friends with Albert Heijn, which is the ubiquitous supermarket. I've bought things like (real) Fanta, chocolate mousse, apple beignets, Gouda slices, and crackers. So I'm not going hungry.

More updates later. Happy December 27!


Anonymous said...

Yay! Amsterdam! I remember when I rolled into Centraal Station, the first thing I smelled was pot, and that was enough of a turn-off to make not want to smoke it at all while I was there. LOL. Have a fantastic time. I wish I could remember the name of this awesome coffeehouse that I went to while I was there but its a cozy place by the water (a big help, I know! LOL). I just remember that you had to step down into it and there were wood benches, a long bar and lots of people. They have great hot chocolate.
Anyway, have a blast!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Could that coffee house be called the Grasshopper?