Thursday, October 1, 2009

Final Day in Amsterdam

All last night, as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep, I thought about the delicious included breakfast that I was to enjoy upon waking up. I thought about the glass after glass of juice I would drink, and the odd cup of hot chocolate, just because it was there. I then pictured the sandwich I would construct, followed by the second I would pack away as my sneaky lunch later on. There was black currant jam, and a giant table on which I could scrapbook all the pieces of paper that I had collected through Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and The Hague.

It would be the perfect way to start off my final day in the city. Relaxing, unhurried, and delightful.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Amsterdam! The skies were blue, the sun was warm, and people were smiling as they enjoyed a reprieve from the grey they'd been surrounded with for days.

And then I woke up. What a terrible dream to have, only to wake to the sound of rain pelting down outside. Clearly, the world is conspiring against me. But, as I was snuggled under my warm blankets – the first time I'd not used my sleep sheet this whole trip, being able to roll and relax however I wanted – I thought of the hot chocolate that awaited me the moment I threw my clothes on and got up.

That was all I needed to think of. So on went the clothes, and down the stairs I rushed, through a hall, up a final flight of stairs and – A giant lock on the breakfast door. A giant lock on the breakfast door?!

The sign read Breakfast: 7.30 – 9.30. Had I missed it? Was I too early? Looking at my watch, I saw it was just 8:00. The perfect time to show up for a long breakfast break. Not too early as to seem as eager as I was, and not too late that I'd be hurried. No – this was the perfect time. And yet – the giant lock.

Down the stairs I went to the main desk. Waiting in line. Wait, what was that noise? Rushing back to the once locked breakfast door I found it – still locked. Sigh. Back at the main desk, I was told that the person manning breakfast had overslept, and should be here soon – but as they said that thirty minutes ago, he had no faith in their actions. I was awarded six euros and sent out into the world to find food.

Six euros? How was I supposed to get glass after glass of juice, two sandwiches, and other delightful snacks for only six euros? An outrage this was! An outrage. But also the perfect opportunity to go explore the southern parts of the city that I had neglected since day one. Sure it was raining, but – ohh... It stopped. Excellent.

So out I went to the central rings, and beyond. There, I found something that I had been wondering about for days. There was a grocery store. So in I slipped, looking to spend six euros on snacks, and food, and whatever I could get my hands on.

Oh my god! I'm not in Scandinavia anymore! I saw loaf after loaf of bread, for the price of 58 euro cents! This was for twelve slices of bread. This would have cost four to six times as much over the last few weeks, but now here it was, being practically given away. And seven slices of cheese for a euro twenty? eighteen slices of meat for one fifty? Things were turning out for the better here. And juice, and two puddings (only seventeen cents each!) and I was set. All in all it came to five twenty five. I was ahead here. So, stopping in a bus stop to sit down, I constructed my six sandwiches, ate a piece of cheese, polished off the puddings, and sipped my juice.


I had finally been foiled by the European yogurt fruit drinks. This was no juice! But the grocery store was so far away. This liquid slop would haunt me the rest of the day. But little by little it was consumed – lactose intolerance be damned!

Up and out of the city I went, through parks and past all number of ridiculous elephants that cover the city in their elephanty goodness. Then there was the museum dedicated to some painted. I don't know – he did something called Starry Night? I dunno. I didn't go in. I'm sure he's not that big a deal anyway, right.

(...Stupid MOMA not having that painting in when I was in New York.)

Then I headed into Vondelpark, where it – of course – started to rain. Once I had my jacket, and my bags fly, on it started to slow down. But what else could it have possibly done? As I stuffed a sandwich into my face, I paused to watch the herons, which remind me of my cottage, childhood, and family back in Huntsville, Ontario. There's something prehistoric about how they walk, and stalk their prey. Anything that reminds me of dinosaurs is instantly granted a number of bonus points. There's Awesome, and then there's Dinosaur-Awesome, you must remember.

It was all just aimless wandering from that point on, as I made my way back through the city, past sights I'd not yet seen, and over numerous other canals, just like the ones I had become rather familiar with. Although, watching the garbage boat clean debris out of the water was quite an interesting experience.

If you've got to be a garbage man, you might as well be this kind. You get to spend your days on the water. You get to use cranes. What's not to love?

Through my stumbling I ended up back at the Anne Frank house. And for all of three minutes the sun really did come out. The sky really did become blue in a small patch. And then, it was gone. But in that time, I took more pictures that I had the entirity of the day. One might, upon looking at them, question if I just turned three hundred and sixty degrees snapping shots all the while. Of course I did, would be the answer. What would you have done?

And then, on the half hour, the church bells began to ring.

Now, Anne Frank wrote how it made her day to hear those bells ring. However, I question if they still ring the same way as they used to. I question this, not because of the music they make, but because of how often they make said music. They play the full music every hour, and every half hour. And they play on the fifteens as well. If Anne really was waiting for these moments, and they played just as often, she must have been on hyperactive attic junkie. Was that insensitive? I'm sure they only played once a day decades past. Right?

And then, four afters after I set out, I was back at the hostel. Lactose intolerance would not be damed, it seemed.

With photos transfered, and this very entry written to this very point, I grabbed (or rather, I will grab – oh sense of time is getting all messed up now. How meta.) a copy of the free walking tour brochure – as it also held information about the not so free red light district tour. For ten euros, I would be a fool to miss it. So, with that in hand, and information secured, I set off to the library to waste away the next four and a half hours before the walking tour would begin – conveniently just down the street from that very library. What luck!

1 comment:

  1. You didn't go to the Vincent Van Gogh museum???!! Oh no! Best museum there - well I loved the Anne Frank house too. But remember, I said you were supposed to spend the money and get the recorded tour as you went through the VanGogh museum - definately worth it! Sounds like you had a great time.

    When I was there I was on my own for the days and in the evening ther were some corporate get togethers I tagged along on. Go figure - I was the only wife on the trip. People looked at B. like he was nuts - bring your wife to Amsterdam? ...Are you crazy? LOL! Good thing we have more fun together than apart. :) During the days on my own though, I was really impressed with how many people I met from all over Europe and how friendly everyone was. One grandmother had brought her two grandchildren for a visit just for the weekend (from London)-wouldn't that be a great weekend with the grandparents? Students from Germany and Switzerland, some guys from Italy and Switzerland and some girls from Northern Ireland, all in a couple of days. I think because there is so much tourism there, everyone is very friendly and eager to chat whether sipping wine at outdoor bistros, perusing the flower markets, wandering the museums, bookstores, riding the trolleys or just wandering the streets! I don't think I ate alone once while I was there!

    Don't you love the mini cars (made from golf cart bases) that ride on the bike lanes? Keep having fun!


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