Saturday, January 28, 2012


We arrived in Amsterdam just before 7am. As I had a six-hour layover, I decided to leave the airport and explore the city. In my pre-trip research, I had learned that there is a train which goes from the airport to the city square. That would do.

Well, I found the train. Phew!

I couldn't believe how dark it was outside.

The train had an interesting interior.

Amsterdam Centraal Train Station
 When I stepped outside, I quickly learned two things: it was still dark, and it was FREEZING! I decided to walk around and see the sites. This was the first photo-worthy "site" I came upon; it just made me laugh:

In honor of my father, Jim.
It didn't take long before I was almost run over by ten bicyclists. I also smelled marijuana within 10 minutes of exiting the Centraal Train Station. Ahh, Amsterdam.

While walking, I was searching. Searching for coffee cafes. Sadly, a number of the cafes weren't open yet.

I finally came upon a cozy cafe which was open and had a cute barista. I encountered one problem though: they didn't take credit cards and I didn't have any Euros. Dave, the owner and barista, gave me instructions to a nearby ATM. Either he was lying about its location or I'm bad at following instructions, as I never found the ATM. I stumbled around for 20 cold minutes, searching for an ATM or an open currency exchange place. I finally found an exchange place. After obtaining some Euros, I tried to find my way back to Dave's place.

I finally found it. Phew. Dave looked surprised to see me; I think he thought that I wasn't coming back.

Dave made me a lovely cappuccino, complete with a heart design and a smooth compliment:

The view from my perch:

I stayed in this cafe for a number of hours, observing and chatting away. When customers would leave, Dave and I would chat about Amsterdam and his relationship woes. Why is it that I always get into therapy sessions when I meet someone?

Dave, the big boss

Vaarwel, Dave and coffee connection!

As I walked back toward the centraal train station, I took some more photos:

The parking garage to the right is filled with bicycles!

Bikes, bikes, and more bikes

Inside the Centraal Station

Sadly, American fast food chains are everywhere.

Waiting for my train back to the airport.

Train tracks galore!

Inside the train

Back at the Schiphol airport...

These flat escalators are pretty sweet.

The Schiphol airport is quite a nice airport

I was hoping to get some sleep on the second long flight; unfortunately, that didn't happen. You see, I was originally assigned a window seat. As it turned out, there was a family from Tanzania who was in the row in front of me. Due to whatever reason, the father had been assigned the middle seat in my row. There was an elderly Dutch woman-Fleur-sitting in the aisle seat in the family's row (she had been assigned that seat). The father asked to switch with her, but she refused to take the middle seat. 

Deciding to be a nice person, I offered to take the middle seat in my row; Fleur could then have my aisle seat and the father could sit with his family. After we had departed and the seat belt signs had been turned off, we played musical chairs. I sat in the middle seat. Although I told Fleur that I was tired and that I was going to sleep, she kept on talking to me. When she wasn't talking to me, she was telling me and the aisle seat occupant that she had to get up and either use the rest room or walk around (she supposedly had some illness which required her to walk around at least four times during the flight? I don't know). Needless to say, I was glad when the flight finally landed.

On a positive note, it was the Tanzanian family's sons' first time in the United States. As soon as we had landed and the seat belt signs had been turned off, I said to the son, "Welcome to America!" He smiled. I had just spent two weeks in his country, feeling welcomed. I was happy and pleased to return the favor.

1 comment:

  1. #1 Dave is cute! Are you keeping in touch with him at all?
    #2 That is very nice of you to switch seats on a trans-Atlantic flight.
    #3 Photojournalism as your next career
    Those are my thoughts :)