Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Late and Lost

Today was a crazy day....

So we woke up this morning in London after a great (sleeping pill induced) night of sleep, enjoyed a great shower, then ran out the door at 11am to make our 2:30 flight. We almost missed the 11:40 shuttle to Stansted Airport but when we told the lovely woman behind the counter the time of our flight she ran out the door, grabbed someone's walkie talkie and told them to hold the train. She is one of our new favorite people. Then it was an hour and 20 minutes to the airport (I had no idea it was THAT far). But we made the flight, no harm done.

I sat next to this lovely Dutch grandmother for the 40 minute flight. She was in London to visit her sister, she likes flying, she thinks it's just terrible what's happened to New Orleans, she's never been to Anaheim but she's been to LA, Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Palo Alto (I think she's seen more of California than I have). She also thought the pilot's english was teriible. I learned all this and more in just 40 minutes. She was very nice though.

Getting out of the airport was pretty quick this time. Going through customs consisted of walking through a room. I don't think there was anyone there at all. Buying a train ticket was kind of a pain though. There are all these kiosks that you can do it yourself, but you have to pay with a card, and they expect you to have a pin for your credit card. Jessica even tried her debit card but it didn't work, so we had to wait in line.

Next we had to find our Hostel, so what did we do? We just started walking in the general direction I knew it was (we knew it was a mere 1.5km away, so how bad could it be?). We stopped at a shop and bought a map, which was apparently the largest map of Amsterdam ever. We unfolded the thing and I think Jessica could have hid behind it. There was a man inside the Hotel Reservations place just laughing at us, then he offered to help. We unfolded our map on the counter this time (instead of just trying to hold it in the middle of the street) and he pointed us in the right direction, then he gave us a smaller (better) map free of charge (because we were so entertaining).

But since we didn't know the street signs are actually on the side of the buildings rather than on posts on the side of the street, we turned down the wrong street and wound up walking all the way back up the wrong street, which just happened to be the heart of the Red Light District. When we got the the right street number, it was a porn shop instead of the hostel. It was ok though, because the lovely man in the doorway pointed us in the right direction.

We finally made it to the hostel after walking around for about 2 hours. That is a long walk to make with 17kg pack (we weighed our bags at the airport so I know for sure how much mine weighed) strapped to you. By the time we made it there, I was pooped. And late. I was supposed to be at the Anne Frank House walking around by now. All my plans have now been upset! What was I to do?

Getting over it was apparently my only option, so I did. We put our stuff in our lockers, changed, and headed out the door. We walked all the way accross Amsterdam to the Jordaan District for dinner, then took the long, roundabout way back. We basically walked for 5 hours today. I may weigh less when I come back.

Dinner was good. We ate at this little hole in the wall in Jordaan. There was a cat in the restaurant that perched himself on the seat next to me while I ate. He probably just wanted me to feed him, but I would like to think he just like me, so I pet him the whole time I was eating. There were actually quite a few cats meanering the city, perched next to tables in restaurants. I saw a dog in the doorway of a pub, just chilling, greating the guests. Made them all seam cozy/relaxed.

Amsterdam is a neat city. The buildings are old, and there are canals all over. I love that most of the streets and all the walkways are brick. There are people everywhere, walking around, riding bikes.... I'm hoping it was trash day though, cause there was trash piled up in front of people's houses and businesses. Not in trash cans or anything, just piled up. It really smelled too.

So now its like 11:30 and I'm tired. I might want to go out and do something else, but I don't think I could walk any further. That's ok though, because tomorrow we have a long day of walking around and visiting museums (and now I have to fit the Anne Frank House in another day, because I really want to go). And Thursday night I don't think we are going to go to sleep, since we have to check out at like 5am so we can make it back to the airport for an 8am flight.

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