Saturday, September 5th 2015
I awoke on the airplane with stiff feet and 90 minutes left of flight time. The couple next to me was munching on croissants and yogurt and asked if I wanted some breakfast. It was around 8 a.m. Amsterdam time (3 p.m. for my body) so I wasn’t hungry and politely declined. I slid open the shade on on the window to my right and caught my first glimpse of Amsterdam.
The first thing I noticed about the airport was how dark it was. The floors, walls, and ceilings were a variety of grays and metallic materials. Even the windows were filled with looming rain clouds. But all that was really on my mind was finding the red-and-white checked cube we were to meet at.
Sleep deprived and already worried, it took me some time to locate it and find Kathy (our tour director). Over the next hour, girls trickled in from different flights and I put faces to names and pictures. With luggage in hand, on backs, and on wheels, we made a beeline to the bus that would take us to our first hostel. Splotches of sun broke through the clouds overhead as we dodged puddles in our little herd.
Most of our rooms were ready when we checked in at the hostel. Sam, (a girl I had sat with on the bus whose room wasn’t ready yet), my roommates, and I freshened up and unpacked a little before going downstairs to meet up with Kathy for our first trip into town.
We took the metro from Bullewijk to Nieuwmarkt (see map) for an introduction to the city. After a brief walk around, Kathy showed us where to meet up later and let us loose. A group of us wandered up and down the streets for a little bit before turning into a Heineken bar for food. (We would later come to find 12+ Heineken bars in Amsterdam. It became a game).
After eating, we broke off into smaller groups. Some went off to mingle with a group of British guys. A few went off to shop and wander. Others trickled off to the market across the street by the castle. I found myself walking off with a quiet girl by the name of Jordan. And I’m so glad I did! We totally had the best time.
We spent hours just walking the streets, bridging canals, and taking pictures of absolutely everything. I don’t know how long we wandered exactly- as my concept of time was blurred and we were jet-lagged in a wonderland of character and charm. Exhausted as we were and surreal as it all was, there was still a certain sense of peace in that day. Everything was new and we were eager to soak in as much as possible.
Bikes were coming at us every which way as we strolled down brick roads by shops and homes. We found ourselves on completely opposite sides of town more than once and probably walked down the same canal about three times- in search of a macaron place we had passed. Sadly, we didn’t find it that day, but did later on in the trip.
Eventually we met up with Sam, Julianna, Jordan-Alan, and Emily. We sat on the edge of a canal after a shop owner told us off for resting on her benches. My feet were happy as I sat on the dirt-ridden brick ground. Surrounded by greenery and bikes, we remained until anxiety of falling in/dropping things into the canal outranked the need for relief. We shuffled upstairs into De Bekeerde Suster for some food and drink before our Welcome Mixer at 6:30 p.m.
After a few hours of mingling with our whole group (head count of 23) with ice breakers and Dutch cuisine, some of us sleepyheads made our way back to the metro. Other groups went out to party on the town and explore some more but I was wiped. A shower, some alone time, and a bed were calling.
Bittersweet | ARCHIS