Well, it’s time to be a little Dutch girl. Yes, here I am in Amsterdam dressed in my crisply ironed flowing white gown, bright blue pinafore attached and my hair in plaits, each tied with scarlet red ribbon. All that is missing is my wicker basket to go skipping in the countryside in search of apples.
Amsterdam, does not have lots of girls running around in white gowns, with red ribbon flowing from their hair. It’s a city that is cold and I can attest very safe to be wandering around at, oh, exactly 01.22:30hrs on a Tuesday morning.
And I know that deep down inside, you’re all just gushing to know, exactly how I ended up wandering this city at 01.22:30hrs on a Tuesday morning, suitcase in hand, with an abandoned and forlorn look upon my face. On reflection, pre-planning would have been good. Actually getting a map for the centre of Amsterdam might have assisted. Although I’m not sure; map reading doesn’t really seem to be my thing.
Amsterdam airport is all very efficient, although we did have an initial barrier of language with the little Dutch custom’s official. After the 3rd try, I knew he thought I was dense. Then I cottoned on that the actual question being asked was, “Why, are, you, here to visit?” instead of “Wiz, a, uve, er tu wizit?” I really did pause a moment, because should I, shouldn’t I. “Actually, I’m here for the cheap drugs and easy sex.” I decide that probably isn’t going to cut it. Nor will it earn me a nice crisp stamp in my passport, to fondly gaze over in years to come. So, it’s just a really dull, boring, “I’m just stopping over for a visit on my way to Paris.” Life can be incredibly mind-numbing, where is the fun, if you can’t spend some of it winding people up. (And No, I’m not in Amsterdam for cheap drugs and easy sex. Just so you all know, ok.)
I manage to get my credit card to work, and find myself on the train. Too bad that some random local at the platform, put me on a train, that then tried to send me to the opposite end of Amsterdam. Well, I’d like to find him and donk him on the head. Finally I’m advised to get off the train by another local, race across to the Metro at the next platform because getting to the city will be much quicker this way, so I leap off at the next station and we fly back down the stairs, suitcase, handbag and laptop in toe…….. to then be stuck with handbag and laptop on one side of the gate and me and the suitcase on the other. Yes, my train ticket doesn’t work for the metro. I’m not leaving before I get that bag and laptop back. Nor did I enjoy having my fingers squashed in the gate. Unpleasant, is a word that springs to mind.
Next, we’re back to the same platform I left from, there is a lot of traipsing up and down stairs going on. We are not amused. For the record it is now 11.30pm at night. (The plane arrived at 10.15pm)
Finally I get to Amsterdam, my first instinct: that little voice in my head says, ‘Get a taxi.’ My uprightly honest taxi driver says that he won’t take my money, because the hotel is just two minutes across the road. Just go the traffic lights and cross there, the hotel is the second street on the right. Well, it is actually two streets across from the platform you then turn left at the first street.
I follow my taxi driver’s implicit instruction, and head down and down the road just across from the traffic light. I’m not feeling right with that voice in my head again.
To cut a long story short, there was a lot of walking, a lot of stopping at five star hotels to get directions. I wanted to smack my head at the wall for my utter stupidity, and lack of planning. Maybe I’d just spend the next four days with my bags aimlessly wandering Amsterdam’s streets until it was time to leave.
I even manage to locate a local bar, I’m pounced on by the locals offering their support, where I then strike up a conversation with a chap, probably a nice kid under normal circumstances, he is also slightly drunk, who then gives a knowing look at the street name of my hotel and proceeds to sit me down on the outside stools (its freezing, I might add) and gives me a very deep and meaningful in-depth lecture on how the street names of Amsterdam, came to be named in the fashion that see we today. This takes another 15 minutes. There are times when I know, I go through life just being too polite. I should just get up, dust off my coat, pick up my bags and walk. Nup, I listen politely and lose 15 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. I just want my bedroom, and something to eat. (It’s now 12.20am in the morning.) It’s a bit like having an epiphany, but as I stand outside this Amsterdam pub, in the bleak darkness and chilled air, I realise the last spontaneous conversation I had with any random stranger that was in any way sensible, coherent and intelligent was with our little friend at the Inverary B&B in the Scottish highlands.
There was a lot more walking, the streets are emptying out. I think about bedding down in a warm corner on an Amsterdam lane way. I find the Christmas market, now long closed for the evening and happen upon a very smart hotel. Hallelujah! And, thanks be to god, is all I can say! Yes, it’s a women on the reception desk, and I’m given instant sensible directions. Yes, your hotel is the street behind our hotel, it’s the first on the left. Arrival time at the ‘Floris France Hotel’, is exactly 1.22:30hrs. Yes, it’s Amsterdam, but it’s France inside the hotel.
The cleaner for room 201 had a lot to answer for, unmade bed, wet towels on the bed. A herd of rampaging bulls had been through this room. You’ve got it. It’s now 1:45am, back down in the lift, with bags. My rooms dirty. Reception’s answer, “The computer says it’s clean.” I actually smack my head ever so gently onto the reception desk. I’m on the set of ‘Little Britain’, this isn’t my hotel after all. Just take nice deep breaths. That’s all I think to say to that voice in my head. Just keep taking deep gentle breaths! The back and forth tango goes on for at least a minute. “It’s clean.” “It’s not.” “Yes it is”. My final word: “THE ROOM IS NOT CLEAN, GIVE ME A ROOM THAT IS, PLEASEEEEEEEE”.
Finally, I have the key to room 101. It’s clean, bereft of anything useful except the bed, and a bathroom. If I was Cistercian Monk I’d be pleased indeed. I’m not even allowed a kettle, a mug and some milk to make tea.
What can I say, the pillows were comfortable.