Amsterdam | canals + confusion

June 5 +6, Amsterdam, canon 5d
I have read a few posts scattered over the blogosphere about how trite it sounds to complain about travel. After all, even when something goes wrong...what is there to complain about, really? You're not at home or working- rather, you're exploring a whole new city, eating delicious food and shopping. There are far worse things you could be doing. But I also want to be completely truthful on this blog, about my travels. Because, let's be honest-nothing is ever just a walk in a park, all the time. You aren't always happy and enthusiastic and full of life; sometimes you're tired and dazed and overwhelmed and worried about things at the time, and it takes a little while for it to all sink in. Everyone has off days-and when you only have two days in a city, that off day can change the color of an entire trip. Which, to a degree, is exactly what happened in Amsterdam.

The first morning had shown great promise. I had arrived early that morning, after-surprise!-an overnight bus ride. Somehow I wandered my way into a quiet residential area off to the side of the more touristic area, and, for the next few hours, enjoyed the tranquility. I drew the canal houses and drank a smoothie on a bench and got hit on by a middle-aged Iranian man in the park; I thought and wondered and was still. However, as the day went on, exhaustion set in. It was one of the hottest days I had seen in Europe so far, in the 80's; Amsterdam was absolutely packed, partially as it was the first "real" weekend of tourist season, but mostly because there was a massive football//soccer game being played between two very important teams. I was carrying four days of cameras + clothes on my back, and I had gotten extremely, extremely lost on the way to the train station. I wasn't exactly happy at that point of the day-I was sore and a little light-headed and dazed.

I remember sitting at the metro at 10pm, trying to get to the hostel with Erin and Laura, completely catatonic. All three of us were wiped; Erin and I had learned that Dutch sounded simultaneously like English and German-both of which we spoke to various degrees-but of course it's not either, so we had no idea what was going on. The metro had been closed, but it was open again, but one of the trains wasn't coming? We were miserable, and Erin wondered aloud if this trip had been a good idea, or if we were burned out.

To this day, I oftentimes look back at those two days in wonder, because the trip was a complete blur. I feel like I experienced Amsterdam after I actually was in Amsterdam, as I really wasn't, at that point, processing anything. there were plenty of incredible, incredible experiences that I saw, experienced, partook in-but it was hazy at the time (and believe me, not for the reasons that most don't remember Amsterdam....), one long, run-on, rush of experiences that I seemingly sleptwalked through. I fulfilled an adolescent dream and sketched the canals//canal homes from observation; drank iced-tea from a carton and ate stroopwaffels on a metro platform against one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. We went to the Van Gogh museum and I learned about one of my favorite all-time artists-listening to his letters being read and meeting his family. There were bagels consumed in a park, metro rides and those waffles! Oh man, those waffles; they really deserve a post on their own. And to top it off, I finished my trip by waiting for a bus to London (!) in a near deserted parking lot, huge blue skies overhead.

So don't get me wrong-I understand how lucky I am to have gone to Amsterdam. The city was beautiful, and I enjoyed it. And I also understand that it sounds whiney of me, to be complaining about hot weather and being too full of amazing experiences to process a "new European city".  Amsterdam was a dream-one of scattered experiences, a confusing maze of canals and bicycles and tottering brick houses-but a dream nonetheless. And I learned that it's okay-it's okay to be overwhelmed by everything when you travel-it's okay to be in a bad mood, sad or tired or confused. You're only human, after all. Being on a trip doesn't really change that.

I'm going  to go back to Amsterdam-to the Netherlands, actually-someday. I will go in the fall, when it's a little dreary and grey {because, in my head, that's how amsterdam looks}, and stay in an airbnb, and eat dozens of waffles and see the Rijksmuseum and every single inch of the city. For now, a taste of that dreamy daze is just fine.

thanks for reading//guide coming soon.

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