Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Coming Full Circle...In Amsterdam

It was a scenic ride going back to Amsterdam. I had 3.5 hours to kill. Memories swirl my mind as I recalled what happened during the last three weeks.

I landed in the Amsterdam Centraal Station with memories in tow. I located GVB’s building outside the station to purchase a day’s worth of pass. I was leaving in 18 hours. *sniff**sob*
Upon entering the office, I huge crowd was there – all waiting for their turn. It was surprising considering that it was already past 6pm. I took a number and waited for my turn. Had to hold my bladder for an hour. I distracted myself by reading brochures of “things to do in Amsterdam” that I wasn’t going to do in that trip anyway. There was a kind attendant going around answering questions from the haggard and complaining tourists. She said that the lines were really that long everyday. I congratulated myself for opting to buy the Iamsterdam card during my first two nights in Amsterdam. You can actually use your credit card to buy the ticket but I wasn’t really trusting the machines for some reason. There were three or four working machines but they were being ignored my tourists.

I finally got my ticket then I quickly hopped on the tram and my new stop. For my last night, I booked a hotel for a discounted rate - Hermitage Hotel. I wanted some alone time after spending successive nights in a hostel. Would be good to be alone with my thoughts.

By this time, I was quite confident that I could easily navigate Amsterdam’s streets given my three weeks worth of experience in exploring European cities. But...I still couldn’t read the map straight. I blame on the cold weather, my bursting bladder and my grumbling tummy. 

Where I should be.

It took my another hour to find my street: Niewe Keizergratch. Finally, someone gave me directions I could really understand – or maybe I was just distracted while listening for the directions of others.

 As soon as I entered my room, I dashed for the bathroom.

Solo finally. Need some quiet time.

The sun was down. It was past 8pm when I headed off to explore this first and last city in my trip. I’ve come full circle – so to speak. This is where I first landed, then explored Europe in a clockwise direction, also ending here.

It was task deciding where I should go. I wanted to shop but most of the stores are closed already. The Anne Frank Museum is also closed. Should I make a go for those coffeeshops for marijuana? Nah, I didn’t want to get into any trouble in my last night.
So I decided to explore the Red Light District – alone at night. After all, this landmark makes Amsterdam unique.

Half of the windows have their blinds drawn down. The other half showed scantily clad women. I noticed that there were a lot of lookers, which are also tourists. I wanted to snap a picture of the street with the lookers but as I already knew, picture taking is prohibited in the area. Despite my initial fears of exploring the RDL alone at night, I encounter no harm. But I couldn’t find a place to my liking where I wanted to have dinner. Finally, I rode a tram to that stop near Stayokay Stadsdoelen. For sentimental reasons I guess. “Coming full circle” so to speak. I bought where I first ordered my first fries. In my opinion, the best fries are still found in Amsterdam.

Fries and Mayo. And Fantra.

I hopped in the tram that will take me back to my hostel. On impulse, I got off two stations from my stop and walked on foot. I survived RLD, I would surely survive walking some unknow streets. Despite the chilly night, I wandered almost aimlessly through the canals. Yeah, melodramatic. I was feeling melodramatic.

I took in the brightly lit canals. I fidgeted around the settings of my camera as I knew that I am snapping away the final photos of my trip. I cough to clear the phlegm in my throat. I miss the warm weather. I think the phlegm and cough will go away as soon as I get back home.

The lovely canals at night

My journey was ending. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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