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How I got to Amsterdam

Hestia

New Member
I already told you guys about my first coffee shop visit. Guess I better tell you what lead up to it.

I've been yacking and bitchin' for at least 5 years about going to Amsterdam.. You know how it is, something is always coming up and getting in the way. Finally along about July or August, I decided to get up off me arse and do it! My husband wasn't very interested in going, he's a nonsmoker. But he doesn't have a big problem with my going alone, knowing I'm fairly street smart.

So - I started looking on line. After checking out several vacation sites, I decided to make my own trip! It worked out well. Good prices, for Amsterdam at least, and good places.

Living in a warm climate for years and avoiding cold weather at all cost, I didn't have any cold weather clothes. Amsterdam in November is definitely not tropical. It gave me an excuse to go shopping. I'm not a big shopper, but I'm still enough of a feminine woman to enjoy a good shopping spree. A hooded coat with matching gloves and scarf followed me home. Also some new shirts, a couple of which showed a bit of boobie. I'm a big grown up girl and I like it. Just because I'm in my 40's doesn't mean I don't have boobs to die for. So there!

Even going through the final check list it didn't seem real in a way. Passport, Plane tickets, room reservation, all there. On the way to the airport the self doubt set in, "what the hell am I doing"? Going to Amsterdam! By myself! First time out of the U. S. of A! Hey girl, calm down, you're gonna have a good time, meet new folks, see new things, learn about reefer.

Yes! That's right, learn about smoke. I've been an enjoyer for a lot of years and have smoked a lot of different types, but I don't know diddly about it. So I figure that a trip to Amsterdam is an excellent crash course with a lot of fringe benefits. Cool people with budage and knowledge, doing cool stuff in a relaxed place. Do something for yourself for a change! And away we go!

*****

Reality set in on the plane in the form of the tiny seats in coach. Eeek! Built apparently for somebody 5 ft tall and 100 lb. like the little Scottish girl sitting next to me, not my 5'8" 150 ish lb.. I'll just squish her a bit. She's a dear thing and talks my arm off for about 2 hr. before falling asleep. The only problem is that I didn't understand a damn thing she said.

Ten long hours later we're coming into Amsterdam. I stopped feeling my legs and Ass 5 hours ago, so I am ready to get off this plane now. It wasn't all bad, I think we got food and water. I was able to watch the Simpson's movie on the way. The flight attendants were nice and helpful. They were even more ready to get off the plane than I was.

Off the plane and into the airport I just followed the crowd to the luggage pick up, got my suitcase and began to follow a bunch of people who looked like they were there for the party also. They were, and didn't know where they were going anymore than I did. So much for that. Note to self, don't follow hippies, follow yuppies. Hippies can probably find better reefer, but at least yuppies can find the ticket kiosk to get the hell out of the airport and into town to find the reefer.

I already had Euros with me, so once I found the kiosk it was easy to buy my ticket to Central Station to start the last leg of my trip to reach town. Buildings and flat landscape flashed by the train windows. Bright sun shone down from a bright clear china blue sky dotted with lots of small white skittering clouds. We pull into Amsterdam. A whole new world to explore. I'm ready to party.

*****

From the airport to Central Station was a quick trip, only 15 - 20 min at most. At first I wasn't impressed with the building. It was nice and all, but you can't get the real impact until you are outside looking at it from a distance. Then the full impact of the size and beauty hits you.

Walking out of the station doors I found myself on a square and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. There was movement everywhere: people, bikes, buses, trams. Sound washed over me like a wave. Buildings like I've never seen crowded shoulder to shoulder. Old and clean contrasted with new and dirty. Big city, I adore you!

The smell of gas fumes and cinnamon hit my nose. Then my ass hit the ground. I had just been run over by a big idiot on a bicycle. To add insult to injury he cussed me out in Dutch, proving that even the Dutch can come up with a jackass. Things seemed to be going downhill.

Then they went right back up. I felt a gloved, warm hand reach down and help me to my unsteady feet. "May I help you?" spoken in a warm, Dutch accented womans voice. She helped me to a safe place to recover gave me my first lesson about traffic in Amsterdam. Bicycles come first, then trams & buses, followed by pets, cabs and scooters. Dead last are pedestrians. If you are in Amsterdam, watch your step, keep your eyes open and be ready to jump like a bunny on speed.

After I assured her I was fine, she left me to survey my new surroundings. Stories, photos, TV and the movies can't go far enough. You have to see it live and in person. It's so beautiful, so alive. Behind me I could finally see enough of Central Station to get the impact. Wow! Next to me are hundreds of parked bicycles, yikes.

To my left I saw a wonderful thing, a big parade. Thousands of adults and children, laughing and cheering with joy. Being the world's most curious cat I had to go check it out. OK, it's Santa Claus, but who are those hundreds of black guys on roller skates wearing velvet clothes? Something's odd with this picture.

Next to me was a young couple wit a small child, so I asked them to explain. Yes, it was Santa and his helpers, known as "Black Petes". The velvet clothes are medieval costumes, the black faces represent the chimney soot from delivering all the presents to good girls and boys. I guess even Santa out sources these days.

All during my stay I saw Black Petes all over town. They were young people of all groups. Boys and girls of every ethnic group and every social level, brought together by the joy of the holiday.

Being tired from the flight and of hauling my luggage around I decided to find my hotel room. I have a map for all the good that does. Which way to the Singal canal? The young couple pointed my the right direction and encouraged me to walk instead of taking the tram, it being only a 15 minute walk. So off I went in search of my new digs.

*****

I must have followed their directions since I did end up in front of my hotel. It was a gorgeous and confusing walk. Everything looked the same, yet everything was different. Picture postcard shots whichever way you looked. Amsterdam is a walkers paradise if you can dodge the bicycles. Even dragging a suitcase it was one of the most interesting short walks I've ever had. Thank you Amsterdam.

The hotel was a charming old canal house, big windows on the street and flower boxes on all of the windows. It even had heavy wooden two part "Dutch" doors on front. I was expected and they took over the job of toting the suitcase up the steep scary stairs to my room. They also took over the job of thawing me out with a cup of rich, black coffee and almond cookies from the breakfast room.

My home away from home for the next 5 days was up those scary stairs. The first thing to strike me was that most of one wall was a big, old window looking out at the canal. It was framed with lace curtains and had a flower box full of bright yellow flowers. The room clean and pretty, but on the small side. What you should expect in an old building in an old city.

If the room was small, the bathroom was smaller, the smallest I had ever seen. Saved time though, you could take a shower and brush your teeth in the sink all while perched on the john. Laughs aside, there was always plenty of hot water and plenty of fluffy white towels.

After freshening up a bit I was eager to see more of Amsterdam. The sunshine outside the window is calling, I'm on the move. Six blocks and a couple of turns later I am standing in the middle of Dam Square. The monument stood tall and pale in the sun. In front of me are a couple of horse drawn carriages, not getting much business this early in the day. The guy juggling fire and telling jokes has a small, appreciative crowd. A larger crowd stood at the doors to Madame Tussalts Wax Museum. Most of the crowd in the square is moving, so I go with the flow and head toward the lights beckoning me down the shopping lanes on niewenduk. I roll and flow with the crowd, tossed to and fro upon the sea of commerce.

Then I saw a small side road and a shop name on a sign. A name that I recognize from reading up on Amsterdam, the 4:20! I was ready to begin my adventure. I turned and opened the door.

This is where my post on my first Amsterdam Coffee shop starts.:28:
 
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