A bit of an introduction and time in Amsterdam
I did it! I finally figured out how to make a post! I’ve been traveling for almost two full weeks now, though it feels like just a few days, and I have lots to share! I started in Amsterdam, worked my way down to Bruges, Belgium, and then headed down to Paris. Currently I’m writing this from a sweet little Air BnB in Tours, France. Which is the main city of the Loire Valley. I’m not quite sure where to start, so much has happened. Before going into all the logistics of what I’ve been doing, I want to put emphasis on the biggest realization I’ve had since traveling. Its hard work! I know, everybody told me this a hundred times before I left but I didn’t truly think about all the luxuries I would be without. The one that comes to mind first is bathrooms. Seems simple, right? No. If I’m in the city for the day finding a bathroom is something Ive learned to actively plan ahead for. Museums and cafes all have bathrooms but its an expensive price to pay just to go to the bathroom. Often I’ll find a McDonald’s to sneak into but even then some of them have codes on the bathrooms! and in addition, I don’t have data or service, so I’ll wander around for a good hour just hoping that somewhere along the way I’ll see that glowing yellow M in the air. Point is, the things you don’t think about end up being the hardest. And everything requires an additional hour of walking time which I’ve learned to account for, meaning if I want breakfast at any reasonable hour, I should leave by 8 am. Moving on to other more entertaining subjects…
Much of this I’m going to pull from my journal, which has been the best possible thing I could imagine while traveling. I’ve become obsessed with writing, and surprisingly fast at it. In addition, Its a great way to not look so alone despite how alone you may be in social settings. Back to the point, I arrived at the Amsterdam airport on Thursday. I’d been on 4 planes in 24 hours and had slept on not a single one of them. I expected my first day to be absolutely miserable, I had prepared myself for the worst, thinking for sure I would cry throughout every move. But nope, I moved through those first travel days with hardly any emotions at all. I don’t remember much of it, almost like I was in shock or some sort of dream state. All I wanted once I got off my plane was to be at my hostel so I could put my bags down. Luckily from the airport all I had to do was take a quick tram to the train station and then right outside of the train station is a little ferry that took me to Amsterdam Noord. Amsterdam is nicely organized into little neighborhoods and divided by the IJ river. Amsterdam Noord is just across the river from all the bustle of the city, including the red light district neighborhood. I stayed in a hostel called CLinkNoord, which was absolutely fantastic. The check in area and common space is bright and colorful and almost always full of travelers. I always felt relieved walking back into my hostel after having been out all day. There’s also a great little outdoor area where they do yoga some mornings. After checking in, I went for a little walk around Amsterdam Noord just to get myself oriented. I cannot stress this enough, orienting yourself as soon as you arrive at your destination is the best thing you can do for yourself. It makes your space feel familiar and any hint of familiarity can completely change how traveling feels, especially when traveling alone. I’ve religiously been going for a walk every time I get to a new city, and I’ve discovered if I do this, it only takes 24 hours for me to feel fully comfortable. That first night in Amsterdam however was when it all hit. All the emotions I’d been holding in came flowing out as I was going to sleep. I knew it was because I was exhausted, but due to the time zone and my mind being so wildly awake, I couldn’t fall asleep until 3:30 am! Luckily, that’s been the only time so far that I’ve been so upset. Of course I have periods of being down, but they usually are pretty small and pass quickly. I find food, walks, and sleep helps the most. And reading. The first day was incredible, I rented a bike from a place right next to the train station and went on a 6 hour bike ride up towards the northern villages outside Amsterdam. I downloaded a free audio guide/map on my phone which was fantastic until it took me onto the highway at the very end… In the beginning I biked through little villages all with cobblestone street and sweet little houses and cafes. Then it took me through endless green pastures, the views made up for the hours spent wafting cow manure. That evening I ended up going out to dinner with a girl I’d met the night before from Copenhagen, Denmark. Her name was Birdy and she was fantastic! She was studying textiles in art school and had dreams of starting her own sustainable clothing brand. Not to mention all the bags she was carrying, she made herself, they were beautiful. We spent hours walking around Amsterdam, mostly in the Joordan neighborhood and then got dinner at a place called SLA. Big ole yummy salad bowls. Since traveling, that night has been one of my highlights. Its unbelievable how comforting having company can be. I’m slowly learning how to entertain myself alone though, the most difficult thing I’ve found is that I haven’t laughed really hard since being home. The next day was my ultimate Amsterdam tourist day. I started off by going to a market in the morning. It was huge and right along a canal in the Joordan Neighborhood. I bought a few fruits and a croissant that I happily enjoyed as I walked towards the museum district. I went to the Rijkmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, AND the Van Gogh Museum. I was exhausted afterwards, there was no way i could look at any more art. I stopped in a grocery store on my way home and got some salad stuff and beans to make a little dinner with back at the hostel. Most hostels have a kitchen that the guest can use and I didn’t realize how much I utilized them until I spent 5 nights in Paris in a hostel without a kitchen. That just about covers Amsterdam, I’ll get to Bruges and Paris soon! I know this was a long one! I think future posts will be shorter, I’m still figuring it all out.