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Amsterdam

Walking the Streets

sunny 20 °C
View My First Trip to Europe on Singularis's travel map.

First, the journey...

I left my office an hour early expecting to reach home well in time. You know what they say about rush hour, it happens at rush hour. Unfortunately, no body told this to the rest of the people in Gurgaon. I was stuck, it was raining, and to make the idiocy complete, a woman in the next car felt obliged to let the world know that she was still there. I was beginning to wonder if I'd get to my home in time. Briefly considered, driving directly to the airport which is kind of on the way.

To cut a very long story short, I did reach home though I fear the damage I might have done to my car on the roads I took.

Things were more or less smooth from then onwards, though my last minute checks were regularly interrupted by phone calls from friends and family wishing me a pleasant journey. I also had to slip in 2 cartons of cigarettes that M had asked for and I was not too keen on having to explain that to my mom. She was edgy anyway and kept changing her mind about what stuff ought to be in my backpack and what in the suitcase. I didn't want to stress her out but in the end I 'had' to insist that she go down and let me do all this myself. She, thankfully, obliged.

Things went well after that. I managed to pack as I wanted. The drive to the airport was fine (I was afraid there might still be traffic issues). I reached the airport well in time, got my baggage checked in. Cleared customs and sucurity with relative ease and soon found myself in the airplane.

I was dead tired (had slept late the previous night and gotten up early) so gratefully slipped away to sleep almost as soon as the flight took off. Unfortunately, KLM was a bit too keen that I enjoy my journey, and I was politely woken up a couple of times to ask if I wanted something and another couple of times to have food handed to me. I must say, and this might just be the airline, but Dutch food wasn't as exciting as I had hoped. It seemed healthy and so, naturally, tasteless. Ah well... I had dutch food and thats whats cool.

Amsterdam-Schiphol
I woke up in good time, strangely refreshed for someone who's just had an 8 hour flight. Though it was dark outside, it immediately struck me that I was a quarter of the world away from home. We landed soon afterwards and I walked off into a new continent for the first time.

Customs/ Immigration in Schiphol wasn't a breeze. I was expecting this to an extent. The lady double checked my documents and ensured that I enough money (for better or worse, I had a little more than enough, causing some raised eyebrows). But I was ushered through within 30 minutes. It was a standard procedure now that I am familar with it but I can't pretend I wasn't a little bit apprehensive when the guard told me that my baggage will be fine 'for a few hours' :)

Walking the Streets
M had to get up really early (when it was very cold) to come to Schipol but I didnt have to wait too long before I met him at the point we had decided....

I used a credit card (it worked here as well though probably with 3% extra charges) to use a locker at the Amsterdam Central station, which was pretty well maintained. The locker cost 6.25 euros but it was totally worth it since the other optionw as to lug my huge blue bag around town. I just took out my small bag and carried the jacket and LP guide etc. with me...

Since it was really early, most of the shops, cafès etc. were closed but the sun was up so we strolled about. Compared to India, the streets here are wonderful for walking. The sidewalks are just about an inch higher than the road so the WHOLE place looks like a park in India. I also saw trams for the first time and wondered if it was alright to walk across the rails.

We wandered off in the wrong direction and ended up all the way across town near a public park somewhere in the South West (the name of the locality escapes me now but according to the LP guide we were near Paradiso). Amsterdam is so small you can actually walk all the way across (might be a bit tiring though). Anyway, the cafès were starting to open so we had breakfast at a small place on the edge of the park... "Ham and Cheese"... sort of like a croissant with salami and cheese... it was nice... (having spent a few days here now, "Ham and Cheese" barely qualifies as adventure but I took the notes a day after I first landed and just had to include my reaction to "Ham and Cheese")

We had Argentanian steak for lunch (or so I thought at the time)... the waiter was a guy from Rohini (barely an hour away from my place)

There was a music concert happenning in Dam Square, the main square in Amsterdam, the scene was amazing. It confirmed what I thought while packing, not bringing the camcorder was a huuuge mistake. My camera is great but theres no way it could have captured the feel of the place.

A little later in the afternoon, after walking around, we finally got too tired and decided to go to Rotterdam, which is 45 mins or so by train.

M told me he lived in one of the less expensive 'student/immigrant' streets but it looked better than most places in South Delhi.

There is a broad shallow canal with grassy banks on both sides of it where a family of ducks has made its home. This is right in front of M's house. Missed the camcorder again!

We went to a supermarket to pick up bread, salami, chicken, and cheese and wine (well, we just had whiskey eventually hahaha)

That was just the first day.

Posted by Singularis 02:07 Archived in Netherlands Tagged air_travel

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