Anticipation, back hair, and falafel in Amsterdam
It was a few degrees below zero in Toronto but I felt fine, and as long as I didn’t spend too much time in the shade I enjoyed my walks. It was a few degrees below zero in Reykjavik but I felt warm enough, and as long as I stayed out of the wind, and I enjoyed my walks.
It was a few degrees above zero in Amsterdam and I was frickin’ freezing, lingered longer indoors and curtailed my walks, though in that city of canals, living history, and global exchange, I enjoyed every step. Was it the humidity? Had I burned off some burrito-bestowed belly insulation already? Was the enthusiasm of being overseas calming into a rhythm?
I don’t know, but I’m glad I had enough traveler enthusiasm to protect me when I walked into my hostel in Amsterdam. Claustrophobic spaces of slowly splintering wood, stale smoke, and a bare florescent bar bulb a high pitch of scream abrading both ear drum and retina.
Welcome back to hostel living.
A scrawny traveler in dingy boxer shorts and back hair was asleep in twisted sheets, 1:30 PM, in a musty room with six metal bunk-beds, four battered lockers, and one window. It was hard to tell if one of the lockers was available, with two bottles of nearly empty hard liquor, an empty plastic bag, and a little plastic box (just the size for drug transport) rattling ominously.
The thought crossed my mind “Am I too old for this?”
I put the bottles, bag, and box next to the overflowing garbage can, slid my backpack in the locker, and went looking for someplace warm to drink a cup of tea.
I had one last night alone before meeting K at the airport and starting/returning to a whole new/familiar world of living, questions and answers, and relationship. And I was hungry for all of it.
But first the more immediate hunger that defines a substantial percentage of backpacker life. A chain I remember from Spain apparently lives in The Netherlands too, where the felafels are cheap, and you can fill the pita with as much veggie topping as you like. I spoke Dutch with an Indian woman, snow like salt crystals on chairs stacked beside useless outdoor cafes, and the bicycle traffic never stops.
It felt good to be there.
Have you ever looked at couchsurfing or Airbnb for trips instead of hostels? They might be a little nicer/less fluro lighting.
You’re entirely right, those are both refreshing options, and I/we have used both and enjoyed every experience, but this time I wanted an easy, private, and impersonal place to stay. Are you still airbnb hosting?
Yeah, I have two Austrian girls with me now. I know what you mean about impersonal – sometimes it can feel very awkward with strangers – even nice ones which my guests always been – in the house.
Ok, they just left. I think the first day is the hardest – because everyone is so awkward and doesn’t know each other’s schedules. That passed quickly though, and last night they went out with a friend who turns out (I didn’t know this either) to be a student of kimono, so they got to dress up and take photos. I think that’s what I like about staying with people – through Airbnb, Couchsurfing, home-stay, WWOOFing – whatever! – is that insight into the lifestyle of the country and potential for interesting, totally unexpected experiences. ^^
Beautiful photos of Bikes! More, more, more!