Like a Panzer Tank rolling through the lowlands of Western Europe, I crossed the border from Germany into The Netherlands. So began the Dutch leg of my conquest of Europa.
Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic. But it was exciting for me. Once again being asked to show my passport upon entry into another European country. It was a relatively short 6 1/2 hour train ride from Berlin to Amsterdam; little did I know the train would drop me off on the outskirts of the city, at Station Zuid instead of Station Centraal. No worries, I’ve become quite proficient at circumnavigating the ins and outs of public transit. Understanding there has to be a train that goes to the central station somewhere, I just take a quick look at a public transit map. Ah, there we go, train 54 – Centraal — that’s the one I need. Not wanting to shell out the 3 Euros it would have cost to take a ride, I thought, “What are the odds I’ll get busted by a transit cop anyway?” So, like a true blue American, I take advantage of the system, step on the train, and take a free ride to Station Central. Yeehaw, I’m in the center of Amsterdam, y'all!
From there, I fight my way through the crowd, panhandlers and bicycles to a waiting taxi. “Hostel Sphinx please.”
So there you have it, my first few minutes in Amsterdam.
The first things I noticed were the bike, lots and lots of bikes. The bikes were everywhere; you have to keep your head on a swivel. Those of you who have been to Amsterdam know what I mean. Next I noticed how friendly and open the people were. People say hello to you on the street, and ask you if you need help… all in English.
Of course over the next couple of days I do the obligatory hash bar visit. I make the rounds of the museums. By the way, The Van Gough Museum is a must for anyone who visits Amsterdam — it’s amazing. Then at night, there is the obvious visit to the Red-light District of Amsterdam. I must say, I wasn’t all that impressed with it. It’s a bit like the North Dixie Strip on steroids — only with more tourists taking pictures. But I’m in Amsterdam; I have to go, right?
All in all, I had a great time, and I would recommend everyone visit The Netherlands at some point in your life.
Till next time…