When I left for Amsterdam, I was wildly unprepared. I had no clue where I was going, how I was going to get around or what I was going to do. Plus I was slightly terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to communicate. This pesky ‘only speaking English’ thing I’ve got going on is a pain in the ass. (I don’t really count the bits and bobs of Spanish I picked up whilst living in Miami). So off I go… With no bleeping clue about anything.
Well, as it turns out… Not having a plan turned out to be the best plan. I had no expectations so my hopes couldn’t be crushed by anxiety or disappointment. But I the minute I touched Dutch soil I transformed into some go-with-flow girl. Not having a plan made me so relaxed. It was glorious. And eye-opening. The only shred of anxiety I even remotely felt was when I had to go into a uni-sex bathroom. (I felt like I was being punk’d or something! Surely, this couldn’t be right!) So here you go, lovely readers: Things I learned in Amsterdam during my brief stint as a free-spirited, anti-anxiety being.
1. When in
Rome Amsterdam, do as they do. Walk down the street. Take the tram. Rent a bike. (Oh, sweet lord not me though. I would never. I’ll keep my feet planted firmly on the ground thankyouverymuch). Eat the local cuisine. Which, it so happens, was right up my alley. French fries absolutely slathered in mayo? I thought I had died and gone to clogged artery heaven.
2. The Dutch are the friendliest, tallest, and most attractive people on the earth. I was left feeling rather dumpy and vertically challenged if you will. It must be all the fresh air and exercise they get on the regs. Everyone I spoke with was pleasant and helpful. On my first day whilst wandering about by myself, I browsed through a souvenir cart. The man working realized I was American (only after speaking might I add. Camouflage by fashion.) asked how long I would be in the city and if I had a map. The hotel reception had given me one upon check-in so I handed it over. He then proceeded to mark all the things I needed to see. Things that were off the beaten trail if you will. Restaurants to try, flower markets to visit, coffee houses to partake in the local, erm, tradition. All places I never would have heard of if by chance I didn’t venture out by myself. Which leads me to:
3. Talk to people. You never know who you might meet or what advice they might give. No matter how many books you read, blogs you stalk, or google searches you make before a trip nothing will ever, EVER compete with the knowledge of a local. And, I realized, just like I love meeting people when I’m traveling, other people probably enjoy meeting a foreigner while they’re at home. (I say that with a little trepidation… I think as long as you are open to their culture, customs, traditions etc. people will be open to you.)
4. Amsterdam has some bomb ass gluten free bread. It’s no wonder I left for London with an extra 5lbs. And, people, I don’t mean in my luggage.
I wish I had been able to stay longer. Three days wasn’t near enough time. I would go back in a heartbeat.
Have any of you been to Amsterdam? What were your thoughts?