The flight was over in a flash. I drank my hot coffee as quickly as possible. It was already time to put my tray table up. Thirty five minutes was all it took. Plus taxiing, maybe a little less than an hour. Quite ridiculous really, what air travel is capable of. I was in Amsterdam where the local time was 9.27am.
Thankfully, the hotel I was staying in provided a video on how to find them. I must have oozed the confidence of a homing pigeon as I was asked for directions by a nervous couple. I don’t know how they knew to ask me in English. I managed to find the hotel with ease. Everyone’s English is so good here, despite the slight American twinge. Maybe they learnt from Friends like some other people I know who speak English as a second language. I felt awful that I didn’t even attempt to learn some Dutch. I thought my travel guide would be ample but its very basic. It’s not knowing the food I found most unsettlingly. What if I was to be served mushrooms or mayonnaise?!
My room wasn’t ready so I headed out for an explore. Taking rights and lefts without much forethought. I stumbled across three bookshops in one square, one of which being the Amsterdam Waterstones. I popped my nose in in all of them. I bought a new notepad from Waterstones regardless of having too many. But this one had beautiful gold calligraphy saying “Fucking Brilliant”. I had to have it. I just have to make sure something fucking brilliant goes in it.
I also stumbled upon the Amsterdam Museum formally an orphanage. The museum boasts an eclectic collection of modern and traditional art, mainly portraits done in a variety of forms. They had boys lockers, wooden cupboards three high that would hold the boy’s tools of the trade they were learning. They now acted as an art installation exhibiting the wishes of the children of Amsterdam.
It’s fair to say I found the shopping district of Amsterdam on my wander. Brands I knew, brands I didn’t, brands I thought to be dead. It would seem C&A is alive and kicking in Amsterdam. As for H&M, I must have found at least five or possibly the front and back of the same stores. There were a lot of alley ways, with the odd one smelling of weed.
After settlings at Bagels and Beans for lunch, I returned to the hotel or rather hostel to check out what I’d let myself in for. The reviews didn’t sugar coat anything. Your own tall locker, a single bed, a shared bathroom. I’m sharing with three other people I’m yet to meet but at least I have the bottom bunk by the plugs.
In a small panic, I bought a 24-hour tram card without really needing it. During my earlier walk, I found myself almost back at the train station, that the walk wasn’t 30-40 minutes. However as my feet hurt and I was a little sick of walking so I decided to make the most of the travel card and head to the library to do this, write all my thoughts as it might help. I didn’t expect the whole experience quite so overwhelming.
I am in a foreign city by myself. Girl power and Beyonce had got me here and now what? I was free to do anything but there was a lot of anything but there was a lot of ‘anything’. I shouldn’t complain about being spoilt for choice but if you’re with someone you can rationalise out loud. What can I do here? What am I most interested in? What do I want to spend my money on? What’s the point of going to Body Works if you can’t be grossed out with someone. You’d have to internalise it and that would probably lead to vomit.
So here I am, alone in the Bibloteek with just pen, paper and my thoughts. I’m surrounded by artists and intellectuals. There are two girls to the left of me with their backs to the shelves and sketching. There are two girls sat across from me with Macbooks and textbooks. There’s a gentleman to my right with a laptop typing away. I wonder if he’s working on the next big thing, as John Green did here in this library giving the world The Fault in Our Stars. And then there’s me. With more ideas than sense. There are monologues to be written and free writing exercises and writing books to read and feminism theory to learn. Who knows, maybe something magic with happen in my own notepad, on my own trip to Amsterdam.