28 hours you say? Not a nice round 24 or two whole days? Well yes, I had roughly 28 hours in Amsterdam, which I will say is about 16 more hours than the last time I visited the capital of the Netherlands.
Let me back up a bit, just to provide a foundation for the rest of the story. I posted a short blog while I was waiting for my plane in the Atlanta airport. Not even five minutes, no let’s say three, not even three minutes after I posted, I hear someone yell out “Hey how are you doing?” in a manner that caught my attention and caused me to look up and watch as someone came directly towards me in the midst of a large crowd gearing up to fly across the Atlantic. The phrase was what caught me off guard, because it was not one of surprise, or shock, at seeing someone you know waiting to get on the same trans-Atlantic flight as you, but rather one of complete confidence that I was waiting right where I was meant to be. This mysterious person turned out to be an old friend from church, who has traveled with my family to Mexico before for our mission trips. So of course when I first saw her, the first thoughts that ran through my head were, “wait, am I still in Virginia? Are we going to Baja?” Nope, I was in fact in Atlanta and I was in fact going to Amsterdam. Somehow we ended up on the same flight and it is those exact instances that make me marvel at the craziness of this world we live in. We only had a brief amount of time before boarding, so we took a quick selfie, sent it to our families, and hopped on board.
If only it was that simple.
As I was walking through the gate, I was told that my carry-on suitcase was too big to go in the overhead compartments and that I would have to through-check it. Well this was problematic because my ticket actually was supposed to carry me all the way back to Malta. My plan was to cheat the system and hop off in Amsterdam and train to Belgium with my mother, so obviously this little hiccup provided me with a bit of stress. I tried explaining as calmly as possible that my suitcase was a carry-on and I always use it as a carry-on and but when the airline attendant continued to rudely tell me that I was mistaken and that I could not carry it on because my “bag was too fat to fit” I had to contain the urge to reply with “you’re too fat to fit!” I got on the plane without my bag.
The nightmare that was trying to retrieve my bag once I arrived in Amsterdam before it headed to Malta was absurd. I quickly remembered that customer service is handled a bit differently across the pond and between being sent back and forth between desks full of people who truly had no idea what to do, I ended up going through those doors that exit out into the crowd of people holding signs and waiting to pick up new arrivals THREE TIMES. I’m pretty sure that anyone holding a sign and waiting for a loved one was starting to get rightfully suspicious. I’ll fast-forward through the majority of the confusion and frustration and tell you that when I finally saw my little carry-on sized suitcase come up on the conveyor belt after being properly intercepted, it was hard not to tear up a bit. Now I will fully admit to the fact that I was cheating the system, but I also took all appropriate steps to avoid such an episode and it can be extremely frustrating when you plan so carefully so as not to have to encounter any problems, and a short rude man tells you that your CARRY ON BAG is not a carry on today. Sigh….
Luckily my mother was able to meet me in the airport and get me back to our lodging for the weekend, which did I mention, was a houseboat?? Yes I did but it was exciting so I’ll say it again: we had booked a houseboat to stay in for the weekend and if that’s not Amsterdamian (?) enough for you I don’t know what is.
Actually I do, it’s sitting on said houseboat eating stroopwafels.
After I rested up for a bit we made our way over to the Van Gogh Museum- a destination I did not get to visit during my last stop in town. I was considerably jet-lagged, but I did love the museum. It did a great job of providing detailed information on the paintings with in-depth discussions throughout the exhibits. It was also quite fascinating to learn about Van Gogh and his painting history. He was incredibly intentional in his work and studied and adapted to fit different styles as they emerged. It was a great way to spend a cold, blustery day learning a great deal more about someone that everyone knows just a smidge about.
Following the museum we visited the iconic IAmsterdam sign, which was crowded as always. We snapped a few photos and then moved along, because the bitter wind and snow flurries made a better deterrent than the crowds for lingering. We stopped in a restaurant to eat, but as it was 4:30, we were too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so we settled on some spring rolls and beer- not a bad choice!
By 7:00pm we were back in the houseboat (sorry mom for being a fun-sucker) and by 8:00 I was out.
The following morning we finalized our plan for the day. While taking a final glance at Google Maps, I noticed a Bagels and Beans right down the street from us. If you followed along on my year-long European journey, you may recall that my traveling companion and I ate at this exact establishment in Eindhoven, as it turns out to be a Dutch classic, with more locations than Starbucks, according to our server. I easily convinced my mom to make that our breakfast stop, and seeing as it was Sunday and we had limited options, it was an all-around winner. I even had the exact same meal as before: a matcha tea latte and a mushroom burger on an everything bagel. So. Delicious.
Leaving satisfied, we meandered through the nine streets- a series of canals in the center of the city- and made our way to the Bloemenmarkt- Amsterdam’s floating flower market. Our journey brought us through tiny alleys and past adorable canal houses, some leaning at very unsettling angles. The bloemenmarkt was packed with shoppers as the streets are also lined with cheese shops, art studios, and restaurants. As it was February, the market was filled with seeds and bulbs, and I’m sure that the colors and scents found in the Spring are amazing.
Afternoon meant time to catch the tram to the train station, where we boarded a bus and headed home to Belgium. The ride was quite similar to one I experienced again a year ago, when I was intending on flying to Eindhoven and instead landed in Germany, calling for a scenic country bus ride, complete with windmills and greenery; the same, yet different.