Fresh off the plane, we got a crash course in traveling overseas.
1. SLEEP IS FOR SISSIES. Jet lag is real. Get over it. I could always sleep at home. We left USA 2pm on Sunday. After a ten hour flight arrived in Amsterdam at 8:30am Monday. We missed a night of sleep and I toured Amsterdam on adrenalin and a make-up touch-up. Scott didn’t have as much free time, so we wanted to enjoy the day together.
2. WALK AND STALK. We walked everywhere, because I can’t take pics while riding a bike. Since I don’t even walk to the mailbox to get our mail each day, I thought this would be a challenge. Not. Adrenalin is good stuff. I was constantly stopping to take a picture of a bicycle, a window display, a pallet in the garbage, and everything that captured my attention. I was constantly running to catch up like a little kid walking with a long-legged Daddy. Nothing screams tourist more than a camera around your neck, so I carried mine in my hand. Pretty sure I fooled everyone.
3. PAY to PEE. Europeans don’t urinate, if lack of public restrooms indicates anything. If you do find a free bathroom, there isn’t a chart saying “This bathroom is monitored every 15 minutes. Please let an employee know if this bathroom isn’t up to your standard” because it isn’t and they don’t care. Museums had great bathrooms, so as long as I was sight-seeing and not shopping, I was fine.
This is a bad picture because I was embarrassing myself by taking a picture of the WC attendant, that’s European for bathroom, ya’ know, water closet, and I didn’t want her to think I was a lame American blogger with nothing to write about, so I shot this pic after I paid a handfull of euro coins for using her poddy and was ducking out of the restaurant.
4. NO BOUTIFUL BEVERAGES. I’m pretty sure they don’ offer free refills because they don’t want you to use their bathroom. Plus, their drinks will be the smallest, teeniest things you ever saw in your life.This was a regular sized glass next to the smallest Pepsi bottle I’ve seen.
I never paid so much for such a small cup of coffee! I heard a gentleman from England mocking Americans for having all you can drink coffee at our restaurants. Well, I figure, we’re still celebrating the Boston Tea Party and all the doings afterwards. Remember, there’s a reason we threw that tea into the harbor! But, after seeing the tiny drinks, it kinda’ makes ya’ cringe at the American super-size, because people who drink super-sized drinks are super-sized people.
Hotels don’t have coffee pots in every room, can you imagine?!?! We were on one of the floors that had the free coffee station, so I was able to drink all the coffee I wanted. They probably put all the Americans on that floor, and laugh at how much coffee we drink and how many times we flush the WC, after we figured out how to flush it, that is.
Speaking of coffee, not all coffee shops are coffee shops. Another reason to drink coffee from the hotel. A Christian homeschooling mommy who has been in her own home drinking her own coffee for the past 25 years, it was a bit of a culture shock for me. I was a little afraid I’d accidentally end up in the wrong coffee shop and eat the wrong kind of cookie, so avoided both. I mean, what if another blogger was lurking around with a camera in hand?
People also don’t carry water bottles around everywhere they go. I started leaving mine behind each day, not to fit in, because I knew it would be dangerous.
5. BIKES RULE, PEDESTRIALS DROOL, especially if they were run over by a flying Dutchman. Bicycles have the right of way, and no Spandex needed to ride a bike. We adored seeing business professionals riding to work or parents balancing children. But, don’t let their business or paternal persona fool you, they will run you over if you step into their lane.
6. BETTER BREATH. Their mint tea is amazing. I was stunned. This is so much better than those nasty dried hundred year old leaves in a paper packet with a string. Makes me wanna’ grow my own, and I mean mint, ya’ know. I wasn’t sure how to drink it, so I covertly spied on everyone in the restaurant to see if they leave the leaves in. Leaves are left for better breath.
7. GO GREEN doesn’t mean recycle in Amsterdam. I didn’t see recycle bins. I saw a lot of signs with leaves, but not the arrows. Now granted, I covered only a small radius of the area, but WA is freaky about recycling and yard waste/compost. I felt so guilty throwing plastic in the garbage can.
8. LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT. No matter how much American Express commercials brag, they aren’t accepted everywhere. In fact, we repeatedly heard how the European credit cards were far superior and more secure because of The Chip. Our credit cards were rarely accepted, we just daily exchanged for the euros we needed.
9. PATIENT PEOPLE. People don’t mind lines. At any store there could be five customers lined up and nobody cared. Nobody huffed and puffed and blew the manager down. At our Safeway, if three people are in line, the phone line is buzzing and a back-up cashier is rushed to the front so we don’t have to wait. We learned it isn’t painful to wait up to five minutes for service.
10. TIPS FOR CHIPS. Lays Potato Chip company is holding out on us in America. Check out these flavors! Click to enlarge the picture, just please don’t drool on my computer.
11. DON’T INHALE. People smoke everywhere, all the time and all kinds of things. I spent the whole week coughing and trying every kind of cough syrup and cough medicine I could find. Marijuana is legal, so I grew accustomed to smelling it while walking, while shopping, while viewing 400 year old buildings and monuments. I stared at what the previous generations had left behind and wondered what the current generation would have for a legacy. I also spent the whole week cracking myself up, because when I smelled pot I asked myself the same question, “If Clinton came to Amsterdam, would he inhale?” See, makes ya’ laugh, doesn’t it?
12. TALL OR TIPTOES. People must be taller. At 5’2’, I couldn’t see through the peephole in my hotel room without a chair. Also, my feet didn’t touch the ground in many chairs and I couldn’t reach the top shelves in stores. Wait, it’s like that for me in American, except for the peephole, so never mind.
13. PEOPLE WATCHING NATIONAL PASTIME. They sit in outdoor restaurants for hours, facing the street, staring like cats. I think they might be breathing in more often than necessary, taking in some of the free weed. Restaurant staff doesn’t care how long you sit at a table. Of course, they won’t be by often to see how you’re doing, and they certainly won’t be by to refill your glass, unless you ask several times, but you are welcome to relax and sit fer a spell. A type AA person, I kept wondering why nobody had anything to do.
Your job as a tourist is to give them something worth watching. Walk around yawning, do the potty dance ‘cuz you’ve been holding it a long time, stop suddenly and crouch down to take a pic so the pedestrian behind you flips over you, get nearly run over by a bicycle many times, shriek in stores about chip flavors and lick your dehydrated lips constantly.
Just. don’t. inhale.