Getting lost in a new city is almost a requirement of traveling, especially when you’re alone and you haven’t figured out how to get your blasted cell phone to hook up to anyone’s wifi. It’s like an initiation.
“Welcome, newbie. I dare you to try and not get lost in my maze of slender streets, where all the canals look the same upon first arrival and no one speaks your language.”
I spent my few days in Amsterdam walking. Lots and lots of walking. I marched down busy streets with loads of tourists and I slowly strolled through crowded squares where spectators watched buildings as though they might move or perform a trick at any moment. I made my way out of downtown into the Jordaan and walked through the Noordermarkt, an outdoor food and textile market where locals sell to other locals and tourists alike. I moved along quietly staring at my feet in the moments where I reflected on the past months of my life and I sat still for a few moments on a bench and cried when I thought of the weeks to come.
I walked past bikes, loads and loads of bikes. I watched as beautiful tall blonde people with incredible glasses and incredible hair rode past. I walked to the museums but didn’t go in and then I walked to a “coffee shop,” where I couldn’t actually get coffee but was offered up a joint to smoke.
I kept on walking up and down the canals filled with boats shaped like houses and swans and the occasional tour boat. I walked and looked up at the architecture and remembered to just take it in and let it sink and not try and understand it all.
I walked past outdoor vendors and people sitting on patios drinking espressos. I walked past families and friends all eating and chattering in a language I couldn’t make sense of. I walked and everything felt oddly quiet. It’s so strange traveling to a country where you don’t know the language and you’re alone because you suddenly realize that the world is very quiet when you can’t pick out words and no one has said more than a sentence or two in a language you understand in days.
I walked in and out of a few shops, up and down lots of stairs. I kept on walking until my feet were bleeding in my leather sandals and I just couldn’t walk anymore.
The thing I did most in Amsterdam was just observe. I spent so much time staring at individual buildings and trying to make sense of maps and I parked myself at several cafe’s and just let the world pass while I sat and tried to emotionally attach wings to my heavy heart.
It was such a messy time for me, but one I will always cherish. I promise my next Amsterdam post will be lighter and will talk about the time I met some crazy Aussies and had a very wild night in a very wild city.