We always forget how difficult traveling is. We always forget how wonderful it is.
About two weeks ago, we picked out all of our clothing for our month-long European adventure. We then proceeded to “test drive” some of our outfits as we ran errands around Orlando. After laying everything out, including all of Amy’s roller derby gear (she’ll be skating with the Paris Rollergirls), we saw that it wouldn’t all fit in our two backpacks, small shoulder bags and ukulele gig bag. So we cut down our clothing allowance – again – and managed to get everything packed with a little bit of room to spare.
There’s just something about getting on an airplane with all of your things strapped to your back and having to shove it all in the overhead compartment. It’s sort of stressful, sort of invigorating. You don’t know if there will be room when you get to your seat; if there is room, you don’t know if someone will get mad when they come in after you and can’t find a spot for their stuff.
Everyone knows sleeping on an airplane is terribly difficult. This was true for us as well, taking the redeye from Orlando to Dublin, followed by a short flight to Amsterdam. We ended up in an exit row seat, which was a double edged sword. Nathan had lots of leg room (plus!) but we were right behind the galley (minus!) so it was light and loud pretty much the whole night.
Our number one mission when we got to Amsterdam was to find a prepaid SIM card for the iPhone we brought. We were not successful. After wandering around the airport and then the Amsterdam Central Station for awhile, we decided to just call AT&T’s international help number and see what fees we’d be facing if we used text messaging. Turns out it’s not that terrible… incoming messages are essentially free (they count towards our normal plan limit) and outgoing messages are $0.50/msg. So we texted our host in Amsterdam (Jasper, a friend we made via CouchSurfing the last time we were here, in 2008) and he met us at the train station close to his apartment.
We wanted to sleep. But we didn’t. Instead, after catching up a bit with Jasper, we went grocery shopping, picking up some snacks, breakfast and lunch food, and food to grill out at the party we were going to tag along to.
Jasper has an amazing park a short walk from his apartment, called Flevopark. We walked up to a big group of young people grilling food, playing games and just enjoying the spectacular weather. The park was filled with young and old and everyone in between, enjoying life. No cars – everyone came on bikes. The great thing about the Netherlands for two Americans who speak no Dutch is that almost everyone speaks impeccable English!
We hit a volleyball around in a group and played a game called “Werewolf” (basically, “Mafia”, for those folks who know what that is). The sun did not seem to want to set. It was 10pm and it was still incredibly bright outside. The sun set at about 11pm and was up again at 5:15am (when we briefly woke up).
Hanging out with locals in a beautiful park, cooking good food, was a perfect way to start our trip.