Day 3: Dollars to Euros

I fell asleep right after getting on the flight to Iceland and woke up at midnight (EST).  We were somewhere over the Atlantic.  We landed at 5:00 AM local time and had to catch a connecting flight so we got our passports stamped, used the john, and got to our plane by 6:15 .  We weren’t on board for 10 minutes when our pilot told us that there were some weather issues in Amsterdam and that we wouldn’t be able to take off until 7:40 at the earliest.  Back to sleep Des and I went.  Two hours later (literally, if not a smidgen longer), we took off.  Still, the Sandman had a grip on me that no brief jolt in the engines could arouse.

We were supposed to arrive in Amsterdam at 11:35 AM local time.  We got there at 2:00 PM. Mind you, I was supposed to meet our Airbnb host, Wen, at 12:30 and, on our descent all I thought was “I hope there is wifi in the airport so I don’t have to cut on my phone to contact Wen.”  Verizon is $10/day here so I’m avoiding connecting to anything but wireless internet between now and the moment I touch back down in the U.S.  Thankfully, AMS Airport is connected and Wen was still hanging out at the home.  Being that we were already running super late, we 86ed the plan to hop the metro and caught an Uber instead.

We are rooming in a 2 bedroom condo in Southeast Amsterdam.  Once we got in and got settled, Wen, a native of China, gave us some tips on where to go, how to get there, and what times of the day were best to hit touristy spots.  His advice killed our plans to go to the Heineken Experience because he said it’s too popular to be going to so late (by this time it was 3:30 PM).  Our condo is only 7 minutes from the metro stop and then a 25 minute ride into the center of the city so we left and decided to explore right away.  Once downtown, our first task was to exchange dollars for Euros.  $200 got us 174€ at Pott Change, the place that blogs said have the lowest exchange rate.  From there, we bounced around, intrigued by cobblestone alleys that attracted us away from the bike laden main roads (biking here is as normal as driving, if not moreso).  These alleys held all kinds of treasures from pubs to souvenir stores to coffee shops that didn’t really serve coffee.  We ended up grabbing a bite at this place called Burger Bar because Desirée had heard of it and specifically heard their Belgian fries noteworthy.  My blue cheese burger and fries were good.  I was excited to try the Coca Cola but was disappointed that the difference in taste between theirs and ours is negligible at best.  After the meal, we were back to our adventure.

This city was unlike any I had ever seen.  If I were to liken it to anywhere I have been, I would have to compare it to the Venice Beach part of Los Angeles, an open market of sorts where you can find whatever you’re looking for.  But what set it apart is also a negative which was that a lot of businesses shut down around 6:00 PM.  Wen told us that the Monday – Friday nightlife here was virtually nonexistent but he could have removed the word “virtually.” As we headed back to what will be our home for the next 2 nights, we realized all businesses local to the condo were closed.  Luckily Desirée was full and I had some Fritos to hold me over because I would not be going back out into the rain, which began coming down in buckets from heaven the second we stepped in the house.
We showered and had planned to watch Hulu but the Sandman got to Mrs. Daniels first so I played around on my phone for a while before giving into sleep as well.

This trip is making me see how spoiled we are in the United States.  I’m on an Icelandic airline and I wanted the pilot to speak to us in English first because who knows Icelandic, right?  Wrong.  I have never had to speak anything on a conversational level except English and Spanish but there are so many more languages that are out there and we have to respect them all when those languages are the national languages of wherever we are.

Oh!  And I saw a fight.  Right outside the metro station, these two women were fighting and then their boyfriends got into a tussle.  I couldn’t understand the language but I did understand that, in any language, fight means “Keep it moving.”

Well, that’s it.  We’re here.  Across the pond.  Make sure to click the hashtag #12Days1Duffle on social media.  See you all tomorrow.

Make exploration a priority.


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