Well, I'm alive and well in the Netherlands. I'm currently on an Intercity train from Amsterdam to Nijmegen. I'm also currently exhausted. I'm not sure when I'll be able to post this so of it's currently Sunday or Monday when you're reading this just pretend that it is Saturday.
So yesterday I caught the 19:18 train from Liverpool Street Station, London to Harwich International. The ride was pleasant enough though I had a creepy couple sitting across from me who were all over each other. I'm pretty sure the guy grabbed the woman's neck at one point. I mostly stared out of the window.
Once I made it to Harwich I checked in and got onto the ferry which was HUGE. It has at least 12 decks. My cabin was on the 11th deck. It was all pretty fancy. I had bunk beds, a couch, and even two hangers. I suspect some of the things I loved about this room are all par for the course on a cruise but it was all new for me. For instance, to turn on the lights you had to pit your key into a slot in the wall. That way whenever you headed out you were forced to turn off the lights. That's pretty smart.
When I bought my tickets I decided to go all out and buy a breakfast and dinner for the trip over. This is how I found myself seated in the Metropolitan Cafe on the 9th deck ordering a 3 course dinner. I had Red Pepper Soup, Chicken with Mozzarella and Potatoes, and to finish it off Espresso Creme Brûlée. Not too shabby if I may say so myself. It certainly is better than my regular diet of kebobs and sandwiches I've been living off of lately. Breakfast was much worse, they had basically run out of food by the time I got there. I had a crosaoint which was great and an espresso which was not. I got about 5 hours of sleep because around midnight I realized that it was 1 am in the Netherlands. Needless to say, I rushed upstairs and got to sleep as soon as I realized that.
Customs was very easy and the train system here is fantastic. My train to Amsterdam was running behind but they were very explicit about how late it was running so I wasn't left on the platform worrying.
The only train excitement thus far was the train from Hoek van Holland to Rotterdam Central. None of the ticket machines would take my debit card nor any Visa. Only one of the machines would take cash but that didn't matter because I didn't have any. So after trying each machine multiple times I gave up and just jumped on the train. I considered getting off at the next stop to get a ticket but decided against it.
-- Quick note.
I started typing this post on Saturday but I am now finishing on Sunday morning. Literally the second I finished typing that I decided against buying a ticket a woman appeared next to my seat asking to check my ticket. Haha crazy.
Now back to your regularly scheduled post. --
Amsterdam was pretty cool. I only had a few hours in the city so I decided rather than just seeing one sight and missing out on everything else I would just wander around and see the city. The city is beautiful. The architecture is really cool and there are little canals running throughout the city. There are bikes everywhere. To be honest crossing the street is safer than crossing the bike paths. After spending a couple days surrounded by bikes I really wish the US had that kind of bike culture. It helps that the towns and cities here are much more compact.
I had lunch at Kapelcafe. I enjoyed it but there was apparently something bad about the place because one group of women left right after sitting down and the guy next to me yelled at the waiter and then the manager. I couldn't figure out what was going on. The guy kept pointing to his bratty kid and his wife. Oh well, I enjoyed my Toasties which are basically grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.
After lunch I wandered some more. I saw the WWII memorial which was very impressive and I walked through the Red Light District which was a bit creepy. I knew where I was but the first time I saw someone moving behind one of the glass windows scared me half to death. You just don't expect movement in a shop front. It was particularly unnerving when the women would knock on the glass and specifically call you out. The women who did that tended to be much older than the others.
After the Red Light District I headed back to Amsterdam Centraal and hopped on a train to Nijmegen which is where I started writing this post. So that's part one of my trip to the Netherlands.