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Tag: Amsterdam

English and crocodile tears

I mentioned yesterday that getting from Rotterdam to Amsterdam via the train was a bit of a fiasco. Before reading this there are three things you should know. 1. I used to live over there so I have a fairly good idea of how the train system works. Or at least I think I do. 2. I speak Dutch fairly well. I’m not 100% fluent but I speak it well enough to get around and understand what’s going on around me. 3. Thinking you know things better than you actually do can be worse than not knowing anything at all.

Once I got into Amsterdam I was supposed to meet a former au pair friend of mine but I couldn’t get a hold of her before I left. We had talked the day earlier and she said she’d be into Centraal Station around 6pm. I could have gone earlier and been with my host family’s current au pair but I wanted to spend a few more hours with them. At the time I thought I would leave for home early the next morning and wouldn’t see them for a long while. Ha!

Anyway, of course I hung around until the last possible second and got to the station way later than I should have been. Since I was running late I decided to take the express train since it would get in at 6 instead of the normal getting in at 6:30.

I’d never taken the “super fast” train before so I asked at the desk for that train specifically. I double checked when she handed me the ticket that it was for the fast train. Oh no, I have to pay extra for the fast train. Ok I knew that (and why I asked for the fast train but whatever). I paid the extra, she handed me a different ticket, I took that one and made a run for the train since I had less than five minutes until it was supposed to leave.

I was relieved that I am a fast runner and made the train with a minute or two to spare. I found my seat and glanced down at my ticket. That’s when I realized what I was holding in my hand wasn’t a ticket at all. All I had was a voucher for the extra fee. In a panic (because the fine for not having a ticket can be 50+ euros) I went to the door to ask if what I had was enough. Nope, he said. I stood at the door not knowing what to do. I would like to mention that to the conductor, I spoke English. Sure, I could have easily spoke Dutch but then? How could I feign being an ignorant tourist?

The train was leaving so there was no way I could go all the way back to the ticket counter. If I waited then I spent an extra 8 euros for nothing since the next express train wasn’t for another hour. I’d just have to take a normal train. I told him I paid for a ticket but this voucher was all I had. He was nice and said a ticket was only 10 euro so I should just stay on the train.

That would have been fine but stupid me only brought a few euros more than I would need to get there and back. I opted not to bring my credit card because I didn’t want to lose it. At this point I was at the brink of tears. I was mad that I was going to pay double for a ticket and worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to get home.

As soon as the conductor came by I burst into tears. I’m talking, giant crocodile tears. I started to tell him I wouldn’t have enough to get home and I really did pay for a ticket I swear. He interrupted me mid outburst and asked how much I had paid. I told him how much and he said not to cry, someone found my ticket. He then stamped both tickets and walked away leaving me feeling like an idiot for crying.

I wish I could thank whomever found my ticket. Or maybe the conductor just felt bad for me and pretended someone did and so he could let me on the train. Either way, I had enough money to get me there and home despite my poor planning.

After I got to the station I waited around for several minutes before I heard that my friend was actually sick and not going to make it. I know she couldn’t help it but seriously? I went through all that just to get there 20 minutes sooner… and I wasn’t even meeting anyone. ::sigh::

As you know I ended up having a great time anyway. Why the darn lady at the ticket counter didn’t call after me I’ll never know. I really don’t think I was running that fast that she didn’t notice. I also don’t remember there being anyone behind me, or even in the ticket area at all. Thank goodness for English and my ability to cry crocodile tears on command.

Lost in a sea of orange

I finally have internet here again which means I can finally post about the game. Yes I used finally twice in the same sentence. I’m that excited, ok?

It was quite the experience. I’ve had two weeks now to process everything but it’s still hard for me to put into words exactly how it felt to be there. I went alone which was ok. It was kind of disappointing because I was supposed to meet a friend but she ended up getting sick. Getting there on the train was a bit of a fiasco, involving a ticket mix up but that could be a post all by itself.

Once I arrived in Amsterdam I made my way through the sea of orange to Museumplein.

It was funny because as I was walking down this main street I realized that I didn’t actually know exactly how to get to Museumplein. I mean, I’ve been there dozens of times but it’d been years. I had a general idea so I decided to just follow the masses of people. They all seemed to be walking in the same general direction. It worked out but I did end up taking a rather round about way. Turns out, not everyone in Amsterdam was going to Museumplein to watch the game. Psh.

One of the things I love most about the Dutch is their enthusiasm for all things Nederland. The orange outfits ranged from impressive to just hilarious.

This? Was probably not even the weirdest outfit there. Just the weirdest I got a picture of.

The area was set up to hold 100,000 people. They estimated there were 180,000 people there. When I say we were like sardines I’m not exaggerating even a little. There were times I was moving through the crowd and my feet weren’t even touching the ground. I’ve been to many rock concerts and outdoor festivals but I have never been in a crowd that was this jam packed. Generally in big crowds there are breathing areas where people are spaced out a bit more. Not here. We were shoved, shoulder to shoulder as far as you could see. If you could see the screen, you were smooshed up against people on all sides.

Oh right, have I mentioned that Dutch people are statistically the tallest people in the world? Yup. Have I also mentioned that I’m 5’4″? So when I mentioned seeing the screen I really meant the people who were 6′ and above.

This picture (and all crowd shots) I took on my very tippy toes with my hand stretched as high above my head as I possibly could.

Not even joking, this…

was my view for about half the game. Not actually bad to look at per se, but also not exactly what I came to see. My head was barely at their armpit height. Halfway through I decided to move around. I never actually found a good spot to watch from so I basically took my cues from the crowd as to what was going on in the game.

This is my very favorite picture from the trip. It was clearly a very intense moment in the game.

Being in the big crowd alone was overwhelming to say the least. Not that I was nervous or felt unsafe but it’s amazing how alone you can feel when everyone around you has a group. There were friendly people but mostly guys and I’m pretty sure it was mainly for ulterior motives. Actually, their motives were fairly clear in certain cases. One group of four guys was so excited that they put me in the middle and humped me from all sides. Fun. Another guy asked me (for his ::cough:: friend) if I “wanted to have sex because he’s very horny”. Charming. It didn’t bother me necessarily but it would have been nice to have my own group of people.

By the way, it was hot. The Netherlands is supposed to be all mild with the weather. You know, mid 70’s in the summer. Beautiful. Not this summer though. At one point it was 93 degrees. Ninety-freakin-three degrees. That, combined with the fact that there was copious amounts of alcohol being consumed and we were crammed together like cattle, made for a seriously smelly experience.

At one point a helicopter flew over and dropped orange gerber daisies on the crowd. It was very pretty but also perhaps to help with the smell? Please ignore my incredibly sweaty bangs. Gross. Also notice the guy next to me is several inches shorter than I am. Poor dude couldn’t see anything either. We would have commiserated about it together but he only spoke French and Spanish. Ah well.

The noise level was unbelievable. Not only was there cheering and yelling and singing but the vuvuzelas. Oh the vuvuzelas. Also, air horns. I’m not sure what’s worse. Honestly? I’m leaning towards the air horns. At least they have to stop when the user needs a breath. It was noisiest before the game started. While they were playing there were moments where the quiet was almost eerie considering how many people were there. It was quickly followed by shouts of excitement or disappointment but some moments the tension was something you could actually feel. That was the best part of being in that insane crowd, feeling every emotion of the game times 180,000.

Yes, there were moments when I was beyond disgusted. First off the smell, which I have already mentioned. Then there was the time I watched a guy just pee, right in front of me, in the middle of the crowd. He didn’t want to lose his spot. At that moment I was never so happy to be wearing tennis shoes instead of sandals. I may have looked like a dumb tourist but at least my toes weren’t anywhere near touching that filthy ground. There was also the beer flying through the air (why do people waste perfectly good beer? I don’t get it.) Then the vomit. And God only know what other liquids.

Amsterdam is generally a very clean city. Not so much when there’s a game apparently.

I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t stay for the entire game. About three quarters of the way through I went to the edge of the crowd. I just couldn’t handle being smashed against so many strangers anymore. It wasn’t like I could actually see anyway. I did stay until Spain scored their goal. There were only a few minutes left so I knew it was over. Plus? I. was. dead.

See? Dead.

I wanted to catch a train as fast as humanly possible. I knew that I would only be ahead of most of the crowd by a bit but I hoped that it was enough of a head start that I could maybe get a seat. It worked. I had to stand until the first stop and after that I was able to sit down. I really needed to sit down, see above picture as evidence.

What an incredible experience it was. I really am glad I went. There were moments where I doubted my sanity in going. The train trouble getting there, the intensity of braving the enormous crowd alone and the stress of getting a flight home all made me wonder if it had been worth it. In the end I really think it was. It’s a story I’ll always have. That’s really why I did it, for the adventure.

And boy, from start to finish, what an adventure it was.

This better be jet lag

I’m exhausted still. I felt pretty good most of the day but around 7pm I started feeling super tired and sick to my stomach. I kind of have the chills though too so I’m really hoping I’m not coming down with something. That would be just perfect. At least I’m at home if I get sick. However, we start moving tomorrow so I really don’t have time for illness. Hear that Body? I do NOT have time to be sick right now.

Anyway, I’m just not feeling up to sorting through and editing the hundreds of pictures and video clips I took this week. There are a few great ones though (like that teaser?). Even though we’re moving I promise that, as long as I’m not sick, I will get a post up with them tomorrow. ::cross my heart::

For now, watch this song.

While all you Americans loath vuvuzelas, (for the record, vuvuzelas are a South African thing, not a soccer thing) the Dutch actually grew quite fond of them after they were introduced to them during this World Cup. So much so that they wrote a whole song dedicated to them. If I could find the lyrics in writing I would post the translation but I can’t so you’re just going to have to guess. This song was played over and over in Amsterdam. It cracks me up and was a lot of fun to listen to when 180,000 people were singing along to it. Good times.

Until tomorrow.

The one where nothing goes right

I still can’t get home. Today was the day that looked best for the flights. Now I’m really starting to freak out. All the other flights are just as full and no more than 2 standbys are getting on at a time. Considering there were 33 today it should take me approximately 4.7 months to get home. Guess I’ll have plenty of time to practice my Dutch.

Seriously though, it was probably really stupid of me to come. It wouldn’t be as bad if I wasn’t supposed to start working again in a week. I also missed my last soccer game and am well on my way to missing Phoebe’s first competition. If I don’t make it back my next Wednesday I’ll lose the job I haven’t even started yet. That would be awesome. And by awesome I obviously mean the freaking worst.

I’m just feeling extremely down and defeated. I don’t have many options. There are only two flights a day. After that I’m S.O.L. I just really thought I’d get on today and I wasn’t even close. It doesn’t help that the CSR is a complete bitch. She’s just rude and as soon as she thinks the flight is full she makes us leave her sight. Not kidding. Even though every time everyone is not on the plane which means it’s possible there could be an open seat because of a no show or error. Doesn’t matter. Once she’s done she literally makes us leave the gate area so she doesn’t have to┬ásee us any more. She better hope she’s never on a flight I’m working. Just saying.

Anyway, the flights are just as full through next week. So, in a desperate attempt to leave Europe and get back to The States I’m going to try something a little different. At ridiculously-early-o’clock tomorrow morning I’m catching a train to Brussels. I praying that I make it on one of the two flights out of there tomorrow morning. If not it’s going to be an expensive train ride for nothing. It’s cheaper than going back and forth to Schipol day after day though so if it works it will be well worth the money. Plus, I’m still under 25 so I can ride on a youth ticket. Score! The ticket calls me a “youngster”, kind of makes me giggle.

Oh, and now? It took me an hour and a half just to buy the ticket. I selected home printing because that way I’d know the ticket was ok and in my hand. Wouldn’t you know the printer is inexplicably offline and won’t print. Nothing we do seems to work. I guess I’m going to end up canceling my reservation and making a new one. Because of course there’s no option to change to picking it up at the station. It’ll cost 5 Euros extra but at this point I don’t really care. I should’ve been in bed hours ago. I’m sure a short night of sleep will help my attitude loads in the morning (not).

So yeah, sorry for the downer attitude. It’s just one of those days, you know? We really can’t afford to just buy me a plane┬áticket back home so it’s stressful. I really didn’t think it would be this hard to get out. I guess I learned my lesson. If you pray please say one for me tomorrow. Or whatever good luck charm/vibes you can send my way would be amazing. I really need it.

My Week

Apparently the crew desk loves me because these were my trips this last week…

Much loved shoes

There’s no place like home…

Me and my girl

I finally got a trip to Amsterdam so I could see my lovely Dutch family. It was so great to see all of them again even though it was only for the afternoon.

Beach in Puerto Rico

The next day they gave me a trip to beautiful, sunny Puerto Rico!

Beach babe

I seriously love my life.

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