Day 37: Wednesday November 16th, 2011
I grab the free shuttle to the airport, which was a thing of beauty. The flight, on Aer Lingus, was short, sweet and I got through customs in a jiffy. I hadn’t followed any of the instructions by the guy in London to avoid any further problems (keep my ATM balances handy, have a return flight pronto, etc.), but I wasn’t a nervous nelly this time. I told the guy my plan in Amsterdam and consequently Belgium and that I was returning to London in January (before my 90 days were up). He shrugged and stamped my passport. Sweet.
It took me 37 days, but I was finally on mainland Europe.
I was going to go for a long walk to find my hostel, but for all I know I may still be walking, since it was far as fuck away. But quite quickly I was introduced to why the continent of Europe is different than the UK and Ireland. While I was looking at a bus map and referring to half ass directions I had printed out, a tall, slender middle aged black guy with a cig in his mouth, asked me where I was going. I cautiously told him the street/general area, not wanting him to know where I was staying. But he snatched my directions away from me, and beckoned to follow him on the tram. He paid for me on the tram (or at least made me think he did, since I learned that the tram line we were taking didn’t check if you paid or not), and then, to his credit, took me right to the doorstep of Hotel Annemarie, my hostel.
On the way, I was terrified. I had my hands in my pockets, my hands gripping my bags, and was constantly looking over my shoulder for his buddies. He asked if I smoked weed, I said sometimes but you know, we’re in Amsterdam, and he invited me for a joint at a coffeeshop. I told him I had to get settled at the hostel first. He suggested later at like 6 and that he lived just around the corner and reminded me that he paid for my tram, I said sure, and ran into my hostel. He said he was going to meet me out front. I stayed in the hostel until well after that, and then went to the supermarket for dinner.
The guy could’ve just been really nice. He wanted to smoke with me, make friends. But how am I supposed to know that? He could’ve also been luring me into the sex trade (lending new meaning to the slogan I Amsterdam), and my Dad is no Liam Neeson. It was a great introduction to Amsterdam.
I met a few people at the hostel and we proceeded to watch a few hours of American procedurals. It was amusing for awhile, but then got ridiculous. No one wanted to go out or do anything (the girls were sick, tired, lame, the guys were too high), and we were in fucking Amsterdam. I wasn’t going to go out alone, so I submitted to Criminal Minds and subsequently Planet Earth when the stoned guys got a hold of the remote.
The highlight of my night was an amazing cream puff I got from the store, but I left the second one in the fridge, which probably lasted about two minutes before it became the victim of the munchies. I was pissed, but clearly, my fault.
That night I encountered one of the worst snorers of my life, and due to the acoustics of the room, the guy on the bunk below me actually thought it was me. That’s how bad it was.
Next: A real day at Amsterdam.