Thursday, September 24, 2009

Southern Yankee's European Vacation Part #4

You can read the first three installments of the European Vacation series on my blog and you can also read about how the idea for the series came about. Enjoy!

If you'd like to know what I've been up to present day, read my latest post at

Sunday, May 2nd, 1999

I wake up not nearly as hungover as I expected, but still a little dizzy. Schewart will drive us to Amsterdam today, but first we need to find a place to stay.

Anita makes an amazing breakfast which Schewart cannot eat because he's not feeling well after our evening of drinking. We eat eggs fried with tomatoes and ham. And of course tea, bread and cheese. We outside again, enjoying the warm sunlight in the cool air.

After we eat, I help Anita carry in some dishes and V. and I get online and try to find a place to stay in Amsterdam. The cheapest place that could accommodate three people is "Bob's Youth Hostel". We wait for Schewart to recover (he has some soup) and we leave in a tornado of backpacks and goodbyes. V. and I hop in the car with Schewart, S. goes separately with Dirk. We will meet up at the ferry station.

We park the car on the ferry and walk out to the outside of the boat. We pass so much green and windmills. The trip is quick and we get back in the car after saying goodbye to Dirk in the typical Dutch way. Three kisses on opposite cheeks while holding hands.

When Shewart stops to get gas, S. and I go into the store for something to drink. I purchase some "gummy autos" which I find hilarious. I chose the gummy autos over gummy pink cadillacs, gummy taxis and gummy double-decker buses. S. and I try to figure out the coffee vending machine but have trouble since it is written in Dutch. We pray after we press the button that a cup will dispense, otherwise, coffee will be all over the floor. We are joyous and relieved when a cup comes out and we let out a little cheer.

The rest of the ride is about two hours. When we get to Amsterdam, it is dirty and ugly and secretly, I am terrified and suddenly very homesick. Schewart isn't quite certain where Bob's is, but we finally find it. Schewart says it is in a pretty good neighborhood, but it looks awful to me. After saying goodbye (three kisses), S., V. and I find ourselves in Bob's "lobby", which is actually just a dirty room with old wooden tables and chairs and a few seedy young guys drinking beer and smoking pot.

The receptionist has huge bushy eyebrows, doesn't speak much English and scared me and V. Bob's doesn't accept credit cards and we don't have enough cash, so we are sent off into the night, with our packs, to find an exchange office. We stop off at a Crowne Plaza hotel to get directions and I wish were staying in that comforting, welcoming place. The bank that is open 24 hours is at the main train station a few blocks away. Sex shops and garbage line the dark, dirty streets.

We wait in line forever at the bank. We exchange American dollars for gelders and trek back to Bob's. I hate going down those stairs into that hell hole of a lobby. V. hates it too, but S. thinks its funny and wants us to hang out there. V. and I flatly refuse. We pay a deposit and one nights' stay - 200 gelders which is $100. We are given three keys and bad directions to our room. The receptionist and her friend try to tell us where to go but the only thing we hear is to go around the corner of an alley and look for the "number 1".

We duck into the first alley we come to and see a door connected to a convenience store and can't possibly imagine that's our room. But, after exploring all the possibilities and all the other trash-filled alleys, we figure it must be. It is exactly what the receptionist says: a little door with the number one on it. V. struggles with the key and hands it to me. I struggle too, but miraculously, it unlocks. I turn the square door knob and push the door with all my might. It won't budge. My first thought is that there is a dead body blocking the door, but it turns out, it was just sticking.

We fall into the narrow hallway and immediately, the smell of pot fills my nose. To the right of us is a stairway, which is more like a ladder in terms of how steep it is and the size of the stairs. We all look at each other perplexed. We were told to go up two staircases and go to the door on the left. We literally climb the stairs hand over hand. It is just wide enough for one of us to go up at a time. When we get to the top, we open the unlocked door that is facing us and see a little kitchenette to the right and a bathroom to the left. There is a door at each end of the hall. Following the directions, I open the door to the and someone is laying on a bed watching tv. I quickly close the door. We open the other door and am pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a spacious, clean and nicely decorated room. The bedspreads are blue plaid (there is one day bed and one double bed that looks more like a box. The exposed beams in the ceiling are painted a pretty pale green and red curtains with gold stars hang on the windows. The room is cute and I especially enjoy the Matisse prints hanging on the walls so we don't mind sharing the little apartment with a stranger for a couple of nights.

The three of us are starving so we explore the surrounding area and settle on a pizza place - not too imaginative but it is late and all we want to do is go to sleep. We order two pizzas and three cokes. We get no plates and instead, are handed three little napkins. We eat fast and fall asleep as soon as we climb into bed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Were we really this dumb? Not to self: help kids plan European trip or don't let them go. Thanks for the reminders of fun memories. Love, V.