Continuing from the first part of the story, getting to Amsterdam during my senior year of college…
One of the things that came with being a “sampler’s pack” of backpackers was that we all had differing agendas. We tried to overlap them, but this led to some, let’s say, conflicts of interest.
Southern Belle went on the offensive and planned her days on her own. We agreed to give each other our itineraries so we could find each other, then went our separate ways.
I found the Van Gogh and Stedelijk museums, the Waterlooplein flea market and some great music all with ease, but definitely continued to be reliant on directions and help from strangers. I’ve always thought it was obnoxious when Americans expect people to speak English, but it’s so pervasive in The Netherlands that it was genuinely shocking when someone didn’t speak it.
Met a group of Australians at the Heineken brewery tour. Depending on your goals for the day? Either adamantly avoid, or fervently cling to, Australians in a giant building full of beer.
Between the long hair and my penchant for ratty sweaters, leather jackets and not shaving very often, I was approached by the drug dealers constantly. It was ironic, because my “Amsterdam = drugs” focused colleagues looked like they were, at any moment, about to tell you about the benefits of Amway. They may be the only people in the history of Amsterdam to having trouble scoring pot.
I’d found us another hostel for the second and third night. The beds had sheets. It had showers. After dinner and a shower so great I thought I’d cry, I decided to go for a walk on the second night.
One of my favorite things in new cities is to just walk around. But I did a very dumb thing. I tried to use a physical landmark to remember where the hostel was. I told myself…
If you’ve never been there? Yeah, it’s pretty much all canals. It’s one of the things it’s known for.
I got very lost. And it got very late. I couldn’t even blame anyone this time. Soon I was in an area that would be like the Red Light District of the Red Light District. Where dominatrices go to really cut loose. I found that the best way to get left alone is to look bored; another day at the grind. So I looked bored. Bored, bored, bored. Ho hum. It was, I think, one of my better acting performances.
When I finally found my way back – probably more because of covering every block of the city than because of getting re-oriented – I took another shower; this time in need of a more metaphoric cleansing.
The third and final night I stayed very focused on where we were in relation to the hostel.
The next morning we packed up to return to England.