Amsterdam Without a Scarf?

by Eli Hodapp

huge_church

This was the first day since I arrived in Amsterdam that the weather was more in line with what it’s supposed to be like here. It was around 50 degrees out, which also consequently made this the first day that I was able to actually dress how I intended to when I packed by bag back in Chicago. So, add great weather, finally not needing to wear a dozen layers of clothes, and a whole city ahead of me, I decided it was high time for an ultra-long walk.

One of my favorite things to do in European cities, since they’re totally designed for walking, is just get totally lost wandering. I walked from the plantage where my hotel is on the extreme west side of the city to the complete opposite eastern end, then doubled back in a zig zag up and down every canal. It was about three hours of walking total, maybe a little bit more.

church_tower

The one thing that sucked about today, is that even though it was really nice out the sky was super gloomy so all the photos I took made it look like the worst day ever. I think it’s a side effect of being so far north too, as even when it’s sunny out the sun doesn’t get very high in the sky. But, whatever, after walking miles I filled in all the blank areas of my mental map and was actually able to find most of the random destinations I was at previously between random wandering and weird landmarks I recognized like the above church tower.

gloomy

I had planned on hitting the only big tourist destination I feel like I vaguely “missed” which was the Van Gogh museum. Apparently it’s been under an eternal renovation project but there’s some weird interactive digital exhibit on the opposite side of town. I went to check it out today, but they were charging something like 25€ to just look at digital versions of his paintings. Sure, I value curation, but I feel like if I want to just check out images of Van Gogh’s paintings I can easily do that online for free and likely get way more out of it than whatever the placards in this “museum” has to offer.

amstel

Other things I did today included hanging out at this super sweet (actual) coffee shop, sipping a stupid good cafe con leche and reading a book that was recently recommended to it. It sort of hit me today that if I could somehow weasel a way to do nothing but travel around and read in random foreign coffee shops for the rest of my life I’d be totally A-OK with that. There’s so many places I want to go, and so many books I want to read. What a great combination.

My wanderings concluded with Audra inviting me out to lunch with her boyfriend Mike in Waterlooplein. They’re regulars at this pub near their apartment and are basically treated as royalty there. They had club sandwiches made with beef tartare (which I guess is amazing even if it sounds weird) and I had the Dutch interpretation of a Philly cheesesteak. It was strangely spicy, and the cheese to meat ratio was marvelously biased towards cheese.

centraal

Mike had to leave to go into the office, so Audra and I hung around at this same pub and drank some beers trading stories of weird drama in the games industry, watching people come in wet from the sudden rain this afternoon, and waiting for the American business day to start. Working US hours in Europe is seriously just fantastic, as you get so much more accomplished with your day flipped around.

You’re motivated to get up and get moving as the longer you spend in bed the more of your time you cut into. The time shift allows you to get breakfast, spend the whole morning doing stuff, grab lunch, and maybe a few beers before starting what amounts to your working hours which go from around 4:00 PM until Midnight. When you’re done with work, you just go to bed.

I wish there was a way I could make this schedule work in the USA, but I’d need to essentially sleep from around 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM, which would be pretty weird unless I could somehow convince every business I frequent and everyone I know to also similarly shift their schedule. Otherwise, I’d just be up all night like some kind of vampire, eating at places like Steak n’ Shake and Denny’s, and shopping exclusively at Meijer.

coffees

I’m back at the hotel now, doing some TouchArcade stuff, and trying to come up with how I’m going to pack all my swag into my suitcase. I’m probably just going to head to the airport stupid early tomorrow morning, just to get breakfast or something. My trip there also involved two different types of public transport, and I just don’t want to worry about missing my flight to Iceland- Or even cutting it close, especially when the airport here is so incredibly nice.

Amsterdam has been incredible, and I hope I’m able to make it back soon. A week was almost the perfect amount of time, especially with the pace I kept. I can honestly say there’s not really anything substantial that I regret not doing.