Day 2a: Hoek van Holland to Amsterdam
Jolted awake by a member of the crew pounding on the door: “Time to go! Time to go!”
Hurriedly pack and wash, and take an elevator to deck 9 where there is a gangway to the Hoek van Holland terminal. Immigration takes one look at my burgeoning bergen and asks for evidence that i will be leaving the Schengen Area at some specific date in the future.
“So where are you going?”
“And where are you going after that?”
“Ok…and where are you going after that?”
“Stockholm, then Riga, then…”
“Are you saying you are travelling the whole of Europe in a few days?”
On the track outside the Hoek van Holland ferry terminal, i meet a nice Malaysian couple attempting to get to Amsterdam as well. The trick is to get the train to Schiedum Centraal (“Sprinter Rotterdam Centraal”) and then take a connecting train from Platform 5 to Amsterdam Centraal. Love the double-decker concept.
Left Luggage in Amsterdam Centraal Station is operated by credit card. Credit cardless types ask fellow travellers to pay for them and then refund them in cash. Because of a flaw in the process, it is important to check the locker number on the printed barcoded receipt – a German family accidentally pay for my locker.
Canals, canals, canals!
Then, there is looking the wrong way. Not recognising tram tracks. Almost being run over by a tram. Almost being run over by a tram, then immediately almost being run over by several bicycles.
Bicycles. Dutch-style bicycles, of course. Dutch-style bicycles with wooden fruit crates, or with baby carriers. Riding bicycles with a brolly in one hand.
cheese for tourists, sausages for tourists, flower market for tourists, dressing up for tourists
paintings of canal houses, porcelain miniature canal houses, postcards of canal houses, Oud Delft pottery that look like bad copies of Ming vases
Manneken Pis frites. Eating hot crisp fat frites in the steady drizzle.
Lanskroon – “the best stroopwafel in Amsterdam”. Their cat comes straight up to me and starts nuzzling incessantly.
Sweet Cup Cafe. Microroastery. Giesen roaster. Chefke the Bassett waiting for the last member of his pack. Indie-coffeeshops as third places for communities and staging posts for travellers. Specialists. “You don’t want to smell my Kenyan? Don’t you like my coffee?”. Providing counselling for aeropress angst. “We only do single origin coffees. Those people who blend are trying to hide bad coffee or making the price lower.”