I am sitting on a train to Paris wearing an “Amsterdam” sweatshirt and a Nike baseball cap bc no one deserves to have to see the absolute mess that is my hair right now (think like one massive dread). I have not brushed my teeth yet today, so obviously by default I am also not wearing makeup or deodorant bc priorities. Miraculously, I do have a bra on - go team - but somehow only one sock. I share this with you not because the image of me as a homeless man is an attractive one, but so that you can understand our distress when we woke up this morning at 7:40 to catch our 8:17 train. Spoiler alert: I am writing this from the train, so don’t worry mom. My alarms did not go off this morning because - don’t you dare tell Sam this bc she doesn’t read this blog and she doesn’t need to know - they were only set to go off on weekdays.... And today is Sunday. In my defense, you would mess up your alarms too if you came back at 3am from a night of drinking in Amsterdam.. Or maybe you have foresight and would have set them before the whole drinking thing started. Whatever, I’m not into foresight. Anyway, I threw off my covers and shouted at Sam to wake up (which she immediately did so thank you for that little one) much to the chagrin of Marius and our roommate who is actually friends with someone I went to college with (weird), Jack. Our bags were about half packed and our shit was most assuredly not together - not that it ever is. Marius was incredibly helpful bc he found things like my brush and phone charger and laptop and jacket (I’m definitely keeping him around) and after cramming it all into my super awesome backpacking backpack, we said goodbye to Marius (which absolutely sucked) and ran out the door. Oh, did I mention Sam couldn’t find her room key? That was fun too, we totally had time for that. Such time. Much wow. I ran up to the counter to check out and said goodbye to my Spanish friend Francisco, and then Sam and I were off to the races. Literally. We booked it. Mind you, our bags are not small, Sam has sports induced asthma, and I can tell you right now that we haven’t exactly been on our fitness game since we got to Europe. Green beans are the one that look like little trees, right? No? Nevermind then. Hey at least we walk a lot. My FitBit may actually implode due to obscenely high step counts. So this was the first time I’ve had to run anywhere in awhile, and to be honest I think it was Sam’s first time to run ever. Luckily we were incredibly close to the train station if you disregard the f*cking RIVER in between our hostel and the central station. So we ran our sorry asses to the ferry absolutely praying that one would be docked and we would have time to make it before they crossed again - mind you they come every five minutes, but we didn’t have five minutes to spare - and by sheer luck (and the fact that the ferry guy 100% saw us huffing and puffing and decided to take pity on the poor idiots barreling towards him, hair flying, backpacks bouncing at an alarming rate. So he let us on with a head nod, as if to say “Shit happens, I got you” and I think I’m going to write a letter to the ferry company to commend their incredible service bc thank goodness for this man. The ferry ride was quick, but it was enough time to get our disheveled selves back into a regular breathing pattern before docking and running into the station. We took a chance and bought a water bc we figured it wouldn’t matter if we miss the train bc we’re dead, and then we headed through the ticket checking machine thingys by hopping over them bc we hadn’t downloaded our tickets to our phones bc we were busy being irresponsible (thank God there were no cops around bc I’ve already been arrested once for train hopping and I really didn’t need that in another European country) and FINALLY made it to our platform as the train literally started making the “I think I can” train starting sounds. We boarded the train with three minutes to spare and honestly I am so impressed with us it’s not even funny.
So here I sit with Sam’s head on my shoulder trying to think of what the hell happened the last few days. Let’s see. Day one was effectively a wash in terms of productivity. We took the 9am train from Hamburg which got us to Amsterdam around 3, but we didn’t get to the hostel until around 4 because someone (me) didn’t direct everyone to the correct ferry (oops) and we had to re-map and re-configure our whole lives. Sam was super psyched about it bc she loveeees wandering around a new city with a backpack as heavy as she is. Eventually we made it to our hostel, Clinknoord, which was super corporate looking but really clean, honestly no complaints here. We needed to do some laundry bc, you know, we had no underwear left, so we started the incredibly expensive yet poor quality wash cycle and went into the city to get some food to bring back to the hostel. We picked chinese, bc yum, and sat chatting in the common area before heading back to our room to accomplish absolutely nothing except take a series of naps. I swear that wasn’t the intent but we were a little beat up by Hamburg which you already know if you read my last post - if you didn’t, you suck, work on that. Anyway, we were so tired from all our naps that naturally we went to sleep.
We woke up on Thursday as ready to start the day as Marius and Sam are ever capable of being - so not at all - and set out to see the sights in walking distance of the city center: the Dam (basically a penis shaped monument in the middle of Amsterdam), the flower market, the Red Light District, the Anne Frank House, etc. It was a pretty great day all in all, even though walking in Amsterdam is like playing a real-life game of Frogger where when you lose you literally just die. We grabbed some dinner and sat on the canal, and then headed back to our hostel where we met our new roommate, Jack. He was a super chill dude, who like I mentioned shares a mutual friend with me from my university, so we invited him out for drinks. We were only out for a few hours before - and I still have no idea how or why - the bars all closed around 1am. It was like being back in America, it was so freaking weird, bc here all the bars usually close anywhere between 4am and like noon.
The next day we decided to rent bikes which is what my friend Chrissy and I did while we were here last year. I almost forgot how many times you see your life flash before your eyes when cycling in Amsterdam. Traffic signs are more like guidelines anyway amirite? We got some freaking delicious pancakes at a creatively named place called Pancakes - Marius won the pancake wars with his ham and cheese dutch pancake holy crap that was delicious. We biked over to Albert Cuyp Market to wander around and buy some street food and souvenirs and then headed over to Vondelpark, my favorite place in the city, to have a snack (weird tasting hot dogs) and bike around the beautiful green oasis that is this massive park. We got some cute pictures and only almost died like 9x. Each. Then we headed over to the Stedelijk Museum for some modern art for Sami while Marius and I sat out on the grass and soaked in the sun. We proceeded to bike back to the city center where we got dinner (doener - my favorite food in all of Europe which we have had at least 73x since we’ve been here and no that is not an exaggeration) and sat on the river to enjoy the view. It was at this stage that Sam realized she had been more active that day than she had in the last 2 years of her life total (she’s a sloth) and it was about damn time for her to get some sleep. Mind you, this was 9pm. So Marius and I went on a 3h walk and talked about pretty much everything ever bc even after talking on the phone almost every day for 7 months, we still have something to talk about, which if you ask me is pretty impressive. We finally headed back when we realized we were about to fall asleep on the dock overlooking the river which was probably frowned upon.
Saturday started slow because I am a slob and my stuff was everywhere and we wanted to repack before going anywhere bc we weren’t sure when we would have time to otherwise - obviously that was a good idea considering this morning’s events - and then we returned our bikes and headed for some breakfast before meeting up with our friend Joel, the most sarcastic dutch guy in existence who used to study with Marius at CSUSM in California last year. We headed straight to the Pride Parade on the canal - I don’t know if I mentioned this but we were in freaking AMSTERDAM for freaking PRIDE WEEK and it was freaking AWESOME. It took us awhile to find a good spot but after quite a bit of wandering and a lot of piggyback rides (Sam is small and as such she cannot see as much as us giants so she spent most of the initial part of the parade on my back) we found the apex of joy - a grocery store for beer, scaffolding to climb up and see the parade from above, and a bathroom in the restaurant around the corner. The dream was achieved. We watched all of the fierce and fabulous people celebrating their pride and it was honestly such an amazing experience to see so many people being unapologetically themselves and even more people being accepting of each other without hesitation. THAT is how it should always be. It was beyond gratifying and it was truly an experience I will never forget. Honestly, watching the joy on Sam’s face as we watched the parade was probably my favorite part. Eventually all the beers led to a serious need for some food and since Marius had been craving pizza for days, that’s where we headed. After a long wait and lots of good chats, we had our pizza and pasta and headed back to the hostel to regroup and get ready to go out! We grabbed our roommate Jack and played some ping pong in the common area before heading to the Pride closing party (a massive setup in the middle of the city with a huge stage and free entry and a whole lot of awesome people and good music). We danced for what felt like forever and sang along to songs we haven’t heard in ages and I think that was the happiest Sam has been this entire trip, it was rad. At some point our love for beer won out and we went to do some bar hopping (and check out a peep show bc when in Amsterdam amirite) in the Red Light District and then made our way to drop off Joel at the train station and pick up some chinese food which seemed to be our food of choice for the Netherlands - aside from the dutch food which was delicious. Our last night in Amsterdam was a pretty incredible one and I fell asleep knowing that we could not be luckier to have had this experience and I truly wouldn’t change a single thing about it.
And then we woke up this morning at 7:40.... And you know the rest.
As I type this last bit, our train is pulling into the station at Paris which is my cue to go - so until next time lovelies!
About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece
The Baltic countries,
if Covid allows for it (Latvia, Estonia, maybe a stop in Finland)
(in August in the US)