I’d like to preface this post by describing the company that I had alongside me for this wonderful trip, Sean Santiago. Sean is the coolest. He’s super fashionable and fun, and I feel so lucky to have him as a friend. He’s an excellent writer and photographer. In fact, we studied the same major in school, and he taught in China for a year after he graduated. We have a lot in common, and I love getting writing feedback from him since he does a lot of travel freelancing also (he helped with this article I wrote). That said, since we hadn’t seen each other in over a year, this trip was slightly more about Annie & Sean (insert song here: “reuniteddddd and it feels so good!”) than it was about seeing Amsterdam (but that was kind of important, too).
Holland was the perfect destination for this puente because I got to take a little vacation from speaking Spanish. And no one gawked at me when I spoke English. It was really nice. The food and the culture was also very similar to the U.S. and since I won’t be making it home for another 6 months, the familiarity was appreciated. Other than the freezing weather (it was horribly cold), I loved Holland. The architecture of the houses is amazing. I love how everyone bikes everywhere! I think I was Dutch in a past life.
Here’s what Sean and I did on our vacation:
Amsterdam, what a beautiful city!
We concluded our journey by taking the train to Rotterdam. I wish I could have spent more time there, it seemed like a cool city. Much more modern with unique design.
Sean set-up a couchsurfing contact for us for our one night there. If you’ve never heard about couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org), it’s a website that connects travelers with people who have a couch or a spare bedroom. It’s a great way to save money, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people and allows you to see a city from a local’s perspective. Arjane was our host, and she was so great! She took us to her friend’s house for dinner, where he had prepared a special dutch meal for us! We all chatted for hours and drank Dutch beer. The perfect ending to the trip.
Now I’m back in Spain and the weather is strangely warm. 80 degrees today! No better time to go exercise, now that I have just recounted all the pastries this weekend.
I just returned home from the most amazing couple of days in the Netherlands. It was so amazing, that I nearly forgot its tumultuous beginning, but I will recount it as it is filled with Annie’s unfortunate luck!
Saturday morning, I got up at 5:30, packed, showered, and scurried out the door to catch my bus to the Malaga Airport (approximately 1.5 hours away). Upon arrival, around 9 a.m., I walked into the airport to find the departures board riddled with the red and angry word that no one wants to read “CANCELLED.” Low and behold, my flight to Rotterdam was listed as such. There was a spontaneous national air traffic controller strike, and as a consequence the air space in Spain was closed. I wandered around looking for the Transavia desk for a solid 20 minutes. Nothing said Transavia (it felt a lot like being in Wal-Mart and trying to find the nail polish remover and everyone keeps tell you different aisle numbers…and you’ve looked in three different aisles and its not there and you finally make the last person walk you there, because if you look one more time and you cant find it, you might cry…). Finally, I discovered it (listed as something else) and stood in line for over an hour waiting to see the status of my flight.
When my shining moment at the front of the line came, I learned that the flight was potentially going to still happen, but later in the day when the air space re-opened. I went to check my bags and stood in line with many Dutch people for over an hour. Dutch people have an advantage on the rest of the world. Most of them can speak fluent and beautiful English but they can also speak Dutch, which I was told is the third most difficult language to learn (second to two Chinese dialects). In my waiting stint, I met a girl named Siggy (not really her name, but I couldn’t pronounce her real name), who was hoping to make it home for the Dutch Christmas-type celebration that evening. She had lived in Granada for the past 3 months teaching English, and she was so eager to get home to see her family (spoiler: it doesn’t end well for her). Siggy and I were the last two to get on the rescheduled flight to Rotterdam. There were three more people in line behind me, and I thought how lucky I was to get the last seat on the plane.
I checked my bags, went through security, used my lunch voucher, dawdled…
The minutes were crawling and there was still no word on whether or not our flight was even going to happen. I did notice, however, that the three people in line behind me were put on the first flight to the Netherlands that left Malaga (hmph). Finally, around 3 p.m., the board listed the estimated departure time as 9:55 p.m. Just needed to kill 6.5 hours of time. I brought things with me to do. Cards to write, books to read, etc. But when you’re bored, none of those things seems appealing.
I picked up every trinket in the souvenir shops.
I bought a book in Spanish that its probably too difficult for me from the cute boy who worked in the bookstore.
Instead of reading that book, I doodled on the bag from the bookstore.
Then, I took pictures of the bag on which I doodled.
Around the time that I was examining the trinkets in the National Geographic store and walking laps around the terminal (I’d estimate 7 p.m.), a voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that all flights to the Netherlands had been canceled. I power-walked back to the Transavia desk to discover that Rotterdam and Amsterdam were closed because of a snow storm. This was disheartening to say the least. And poor Siggy was crying.
The Transavia desk had a quasi-line forming when I arrived, but as time went on, it started to look more and more like a mosh pit. The kind people in front of me were able to get helped (by the ONE employee…poor soul!). After which, they scolded other people in Spanish for having cut me in line, and the seas parted so that I could change my flight. I was rescheduled for 11:20 a.m. the next day. The timing was most unfortunate because it wasn’t logical to go back to Granada, so I was stranded in Malaga and shared a room in a hostel with two strangers, and also ate dinner with them. Pedro and Dorle, thanks for hanging out with me. I’ll probably never see you again.
Meanwhile, in Paris, my friend Sean (who I was meeting in Amsterdam) had an equally traumatic experience with delays and angry train conductors and snow. Read about those here on his fabulously fabulous blog.
The good news is that the third time was the charm. I took my flight to Eindhoven the next day, and a bus to Amsterdam. When I saw Sean, I gave him the biggest hug.
And now, for the fun part. Stayed tuned for part two…