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Uganda Update #3: Amsterdam

I have just my carry-on. My big bags are checked all the way to Entebbe despite a 23 hr layover, so I have squished a change of clothes into my purse. I have no euros. I speak no Dutch. but the tourist info lady tells me what bus I need to take (after I get into the city by train), and where I can find a cash machine.

An hour and a half later, I check into my hostel.

"Do you want an all-female room, or mixed?" they ask.

"It doesn't matter," I answer, remembering how very unsexy most of my Spanish hostel experiences were.

I lighten my load and head back to the city. I walk along a canal past the zoo, and consider a visit to the Dutch Resistance Museum. But I decide to pass: my main goal is the Ann Frank House, and I'm told to expect a long wait to get in.

I go to the Secret Annex. (If you have never read The Diary of Ann Frank, turn off your computing device, find it, and read.) The only reason I am not a pool of tears for my entire visit is that I am surrounded by crowds of other tourists, slowly pressing onward. There is little space to simply stand and be sad. But it is a beautiful thing that hundreds of people wait in line everyday to see this important piece of history. I honestly regret not purchasing a postcard with the images of her bedroom wall. It was only a euro, and I didn't want to wait in line. I wonder if they will have any like this at the airport.

It is strange to think that sixty-seven years ago, my Grampie was here. If not here precisely, than close by. Fighting. For people like Ann, Margot, Peter and the rest of them. Of the 8 in hiding, only 1 survived the war.


I leave and wander the streets, half-somber, half-happy. Four things stand out to me in Amsterdam:

1. The canals. It makes the city feel less urban.
2. The bicycles. It's true. They're everywhere.
3. The cafes. Everyone is sitting outside enjoying the afternoon.
4. The well-dressed men. Many, many well-dressed men.

By the time I get back to the hostel, I am ready for bed. But it's only six o'clock. And I need to eat. I find a grocery store, feeling strangely at home as I explore this Arabic neighbourhood. I eat my cheap-ish dinner, shower, and decide to read until I fall asleep.

I have just set myself up on my bunk when 2 of my roommates
wander in. My non-female, attractive-Aussie roommates. I am startled, having forgotten my conversation at check-in. A lovely Brazilian girl comes in shortly after, and we do a round of intros. I stay mostly hidden, with my wet hair and makeshift pajamas... They have all come for a pre-night-out nap. Do I want to join them at a club tonight?

I laugh. It is 8:30 pm and I can hardly keep my eyes open. At 9:15, when I put my book* down, they are all still napping.

In the morning, my alarm goes off at 6:30. I feel homesick for the Camino as I get dressed and re-pack on my bunk, in the dark. I climb down the ladder as carefully as possible, hoping not to disturb the sleeper below. I glance in to apologize if he seems awake, but he doesn't. He does, however, seem to find the room too hot for sheets, and I quickly look away, laughing to myself and wishing I had a travel buddy to roll my eyes with.

Back to the airport. Next stop, Entebbe (via Kigali)!



*Bridge to Terabithia - The first book I ever remember making me cry. I wanted to re-read it as an adult. Still love it. I have also already read Room on this trip, and am now working on The Help. My vacation reading habits are compelling me to seriously consider requesting an e-reader for Christmas.

Comments

kat said…
i enjoy that we both wrote about amsterdam on the same day. glad to hear you had a good stop-over!
Beth said…
true that! i thought of you several times as i wandered - it was a gorgeous sunny day, and i thought, "I wish Kat had gotten some sun when she was here!!"

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