Well, I’m writing this post from bed in Paris because I’m sick. This is my third day in bed, and I feel worse today than the past two days, so that’s fun. It’s my birthday tomorrow and we had these grand plans of going to a cheese shop and wine shop and picnicking in a park with a view of the Eiffel Tower. I’m remaining optimistic that I’ll miraculously be better by tomorrow morning, but we may have to postpone the birthday celebration. Over the past few months, I kept telling myself that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t gotten a cold or anything yet, after having bouts of poor sleep and being around so many people while traveling. I never said it out loud though, in case I jinxed it. When we arrived at our housesitting assignment in Paris on Friday, I noticed the daughter of our host seemed like she was getting over a cold. I made a comment to Jeremy about it, and we both brushed it off and agreed that I wouldn’t get sick. Well, I woke up feeling like crap on Monday, and have felt worse ever since. At least my body waited until we were settled in somewhere for a while, instead of wasting half a week in bed in a place we were just visiting for a short time.
Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be feeling better real soon, and Jeremy is taking good care of me.
I wanted to share some pictures from our week in Amsterdam, which was really fun. Neither of us had ever been before, and the only things I thought about the city before visiting were weed and canals. And it’s true, there are lots of both of those things, but it’s also a really charming, clean city that has beautiful architecture and a lot to explore.
We took a train from Berlin to Amsterdam, which was supposed to take about six hours. Since it was a long ride and the price difference wasn’t much, we bought first-class tickets so we’d have more comfortable seats. Turns out that on these specific trains, the only first-class cabins are compartments with six people in each. I thought it would be weird to be in a little enclosed room with six people for six hours, but everyone else ended up leaving after a few hours, and Jeremy and I had the whole compartment to ourselves after that, which was really nice.
Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. About two hours away from Amsterdam, the conductor announced that the train was going to stop and everyone needed to get off because two of the cabins of the train didn’t have air conditioning and it was hot. There weren’t really any other instructions after that as to how to actually get to our destination, but we all got off the train in some random town in the Netherlands, and everybody was confused. We found an American family to talk to and ask, but they were just as clueless as we were. A regional train pulled up and everybody started getting on, so we got on too. Well, just a heads up: if you travel by train to Amsterdam on a Friday afternoon, people will be partying (could have also had something to do with the Germans just winning the World Cup). People had huge coolers full of beer on the ground in the train and music with speakers, and there were lots of drunk people. One guy dropped a beer next to me and Jeremy, and luckily it just got on my clothes and didn’t soak through my suitcase or anything (I guess that’s lucky?). I felt like such a square because I’m sure I was frowning disapprovingly when everyone else was just trying to have a good time, but I was just over it and wanted to be in Amsterdam. We ended up getting off that train after a little while because some other people were (the blind following the blind), then we took another train that eventually got us to the Central Station in Amsterdam, and we took a tram from there. Our Airbnb host gave us wrong directions so we got lost wandering around for a while after that, but we finally made it. Phew. From there, it was much smoother sailing, and we spent the week exploring the city by foot (as usual).
We took a day trip to the northern part of the city, Amsterdam Noord, which turned out to be a cool area with a lot less tourists. The ferry leaves from behind the central train station, and it’s free. We brought a picnic with us, and found a nice lawn outside that big white building in the picture below, which is a cinema museum called The Eye.
A few observations:
– We made almost all of our meals at our apartment, and the grocery stores in Amsterdam were by far the nicest we’ve been to during our travels.
– They are very serious about their bicycles in the Netherlands. There are big bike parking lots, and if you step into the bike path without looking, prepared to almost get side-swiped. Tiny cars and motorcycles/scooters can also use the bike paths, so you’d better watch your step.
– It was really crazy to be walking around and see and smell people smoking pot out in public. There are about 200 coffeeshops (the name for the cafés that sell marijuana) in central Amsterdam alone, so you are guaranteed to walk by a few even if you’re just going a short ways. We went into a couple – just to see what they were like! – and the people working there were very nice to us, and there are menus with descriptions and you can just order whichever strain you’d like.
We really liked Amsterdam, and the next time we return to Holland, I’d love to explore other cities, and take a bike ride through the countryside (which we were hoping to do, but it didn’t happen).