Amsterdam: Sleeping on a boat and getting stuck for an extra night
From Bremen, I took a bus to Amsterdam. As we were getting down, the driver told us to watch out since we’d be getting down on a bike path, the first indication of just how many bikes I was about to see. I met the other assistants at our hostel, which was actually a boat close to Centraal Station. It was pretty adorable, with little portholes in the room and a common area with purchases based on the honor system, and I felt pretty lucky to have only stayed in nice hostels so far. We walked around for a bit and saw some creepy grim reapers:
The city was gorgeous during the day, but I loved it even more at night:
The next day, we went to the Rijksmuseum:
We were supposed to be taking an afternoon train back to Lille and had left our backpacks on the boat so we wouldn’t need to carry them around all day. After lunch, we headed back to the boat to get them before heading to the station and realized that we were cutting it awfully close. After half-running to the farthest platform in the station, we missed our train by a couple of minutes.
Luckily, there was a room with wifi, so we settled down to try to find a way home. The tickets that were available were either way too expensive or would result in us having to stay overnight in Brussels or Lille anyway, so we decided that we might as well stay the night in Amsterdam and take a covoiturage back to Lille in the morning.
We booked ourselves a room in a hostel (that we realized afterwards was in the Red Light district) and headed out on a hunt for food. We decided on pancakes for dinner and they were totally the right choice.
The next day, we headed out to meet our ride back to Lille. My phone was dying, so after getting shocked by an outlet I found outside, we went to a cafe. I was about to pick a pastry when I noticed tiny flies swarming all over it! Desperate to charge my phone so we could get in touch with our ride, we picked out a cake that was fully covered. The lady behind the counter and a customer near us tried to explain what it was, and translated it in English as a cake with spices. Turns out, it was gingerbread cake.
After my phone charged a bit and we’d picked away at the cake, we went to wait in the parking lot of a gas station for a random stranger to pick us up. He’d had countless positive reviews and luckily for the second time this trip, we had a very pleasant covoiturage experience. We made our way back to Lille and were excited to finally get back to Bethune, just in time for Halloween! Like pretty much every other place I’ve seen so far, I can’t wait to visit Amsterdam again for (an intentionally) longer stay.
Environmental Stuff: It seemed at times as if there were more bikes than people. There were gigantic “parking lots” full of just bikes, and everyone seemed so at ease on their bikes, sustaining conversations while biking side-by-side. The tram service also seemed pretty frequent, although it was a bit pricey. It was also interesting just how much was based off of the honor system, especially with regards to buying tickets on the trams. The fact that the trams quietly snuck up on me while walking on the road took a little getting used to, but after a while the streets didn’t seem quite so bewildering and it was nice to be able to walk everywhere.