My original itinerary for this trip had me heading straight from Munich to Amsterdam, renting a bike, and spending 2 days riding across the countryside amidst millions of colorful tulips, all in advance of the Queen’s Day festivities. But after oversleeping my train transfer on the way I was forced to rearrange everything, visiting Rotterdam first and leaving the tulips for after. Now that the holiday weekend had concluded, it was time to head back into the countryside and get some of those postcard-perfect Holland photos.
Or so I’d hoped.
For the two days following Queen’s Day weekend it poured almost continuously – nobody even wanted to leave the hostel.
Even if it meant delaying my departure to Paris I vowed not to leave Holland until I saw those flowers – and I certainly didn’t want to go biking in pouring rain – so I killed two days catching up on Anki reviews, emails, and blogs – until the rain finally started to clear up.
Because the hostel’s minimum-length stay over the holiday was four nights, all of my new friends departed at roughly the same time. I was the last one there, and even though we’d only spent a few days together I really felt like I was separating from a great new group of friends. I’m sure I did a poor job of communicating it via these hastily-written posts, but we really did develop a pretty tightly-knit group, spending nearly every minute together for the duration of our stay.
And man, as if the separation wasn’t enough, ending a big party like this is always just so depressing! It’s exactly how I felt after Carnaval ended, and later, Tokushima Awa Odori. I guess it’s too much of a high-and-low: Nonstop perfection of fun following by the realization that it could be years until the next time I find myself in a situation even half as wild.
Well…maybe not years. But at least months 😉
Pretty much the only thing I did tourism-wise during those last two rainy days in Amsterdam was a free city walking tour (see New Europe Tours), which if the weather were nice would have been really quite enjoyable – but since I was freezing cold the whole time it was a bit difficult to focus. I ended up spending most of the time huddling under my tiny travel umbrella with a tall blonde Polish girl – who eventually grabbed it out of my hand as I kept holding it too low and hitting her on the head with it. Oops! 😳
Then, after verifying once more that the weather was scheduled to clear up the following morning, I finalized my schedule and bought a ticket to Paris. Time was getting extremely tight – since I’d already pre-paid for my first night’s lodging and forfeited an entire day in the city I pretty much had to make it to Paris by the following evening. That meant waking up at the crack of dawn, taking the first available transport out to the tulip fields (somewhere between an hour and two hours from Amsterdam), shooting half a million photos, rushing back to the bus station, riding 8 hours to Paris, and checking in that very same evening. I crunched all the numbers and predicted that I could indeed make it – if I got started at 5am and if everything along the way went, well, perfect.
So I went online and bought a Eurolines bus ticket departing Amsterdam at 2:30pm.
…Or so I thought.
Apparently I’d waited too long, and the website only allows you to order tickets outside of 24 hours. In my still-exhausted state I somehow managed to overlook the fact that the website had automatically changed my reservation date to the following day – something I realized just moments after clicking “Purchase.” But it was too late, and the call centers and ticket offices were already closed. I had no way to even find out if I could change it…until the following morning at 9:30am. By that time I’d already be surrounded by fiery fields of tulips. Without access to Skype.
I was pretty pissed – but I decided my only option was to go ahead as planned, as if I’d bought the correct ticket, and pray things would somehow work out – that I could somehow sort it out at the station, minutes before the bus’ departure.
Since the rain had finally let up, I hadn’t visited it even once yet, and I was seriously bummed about the whole bus situation, I concluded my last night in Amsterdam by roaming through the famous Red Light District – a picturesque canal occupied by white swans and lined by green trees…and shops peddling everything from live sex shows to erotic toys to lingerie-clad women standing behind little glass doors doing anything to get your attention.
Fake as they obviously were, the huge beautiful smiles and twinkling eyes of those half-naked, model-caliber girls did make me feel a little bit better 🙂
I roamed about for an hour or so, returning to the hostel at 10pm – as the sky was just starting to get dark. Because I’d extended my reservation to wait out the rain I’d swapped rooms earlier that morning, and my new roommate turned out to be a Russian woman traveling alone. She was repacking her suitcase and drinking a whole bottle of champagne all by herself.
I guess Russians really can drink.
Well, the smart thing would’ve obviously been to just say goodnight and get to sleep. But screw it, I’m on vacation. And I still had a bottle of wine leftover from Queen’s Day that I didn’t want to schlep all the way to Paris. So I decided to join her and we ended up chatting about our various travels until nearly 1am.
D’oh. Hopefully I’ll still be sharp enough to make everything work out…on 4 hours of sleep 😛