Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eurotrip 2011 - Day 1 (6/16-17/2011) - Arriving in Amsterdam

The trip did not start out well, as my (and Galen's) plane was late getting out of St. Louis due to bad weather in Newark. When we arrived in Newark, we took the inter-terminal shuttle, and then speed-walked/ran to our connecting gate, where the plane had already been boarded but the door was not yet shut.  As we settled in for the 7.5 hour flight, one flight attendant asked me if I was a musician - she thought so because of my hair.  When I told her that I wasn't, she saw the book on philosophy of mind that I had, and then we rapped philosophy for a couple of minutes.

Once the flight got going, I noticed that the guy seated behind me had really long legs and his knees dug into the back of my seat, so I didn't lean my seat back. So I couldn't fall asleep. For in-flight entertainment I watched 2.5 movies then played most of a chess game against Galen (who was seated 8 rows in front of me). I give kudos to Continental for upgrading to personal entertainment systems on their international 757. And they gave us dinner and breakfast, in addition to a couple of beverages.

We arrived at Schipol around 7:30 in the morning.  Surprisingly, to me, we didn't have to fill out any paperwork to get through customs.  We got train tickets to Centraal Station, where we tried to activate EuRail passes, but the office was not open. We wandered over to the hostel (St. Christopher's at the Winston) and stowed our bags, and scored a free second breakfast.  We then walked to a tour and ticket office and bought tickets to the Heineken Experience, but couldn't get them for Anne Frank House.

We started wandering toward the Anne Frank House, with lots of detours and a stop for Galen to get an Espresso.  We eventually stumbled into Dam Square, where we saw some free tours (Sandeman's New Amsterdam) about to start (around 11:15). We found out that they lasted about 3 hours and ended at Ann Frank House, so we joined up with one. Hilariously, our tour guide, Julian, took us through pretty much the exact same path Galen and I had just wandered as the first half of the tour. The second half was new, though. In any case, it was good to hear the explanation of the things we encountered and the histories behind them.

By the middle of the tour I was significantly dragging due to lack of sleep, but I somehow made it through the end.  After the tour ended we checked on the queue at the Ann Frank House, saw it was too long, then decided to walk back to the hostel.  We grabbed some bread to tide over our hunger on the way back. Back at the hostel, we both crashed for about 1.5 hours.  When we got up, it was too late to make the Heineken Experience, so we went looking for dinner.  Galen had a craving for fish & chips but we couldn't find a pub that served food, so we had some Tibetan food instead. After dinner we went exploring through the red light district, which was pretty much next to our hostel, including a stop at a coffee shop. After that we headed to the hostel, where we chilled a bit before briefly checking out the hostel bar. I called it a night somewhere around 12.

Some pictures from the whole trip:

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