Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Euro Trip Part 4: Apa Khabar Amsterdam!

Arriving safely in Stansted, we straightaway went looking for a place to crash for the night since we missed the last bus to Luton (our flight to Amsterdam was due the next morning at Luton). Surprisingly, the airport was packed full with people like us. Almost every nook and cranny was filled with travellers spending the night. Some even slept right smack in the middle of the floor.
We eventually settled for a place in front of the check in counters, since that's about the only available place. Before long, we were joined by others and the previously sparsely populated check-in area was soon lined with people looking for a place to sleep.

And slept we did. Only to wake a few hours later to lines of people on either sides of us trying to check in at the counters! We hurriedly grabbed our stuff and moved to the cafe for hot drinks and a place to sit.

When it's time to take the first bus out to Luton, we said our goodbyes to Charis who'll be going to collect her other luggage before heading to Heathrow for the flight home. The three of us promptly boarded the bus (which only had us and another lady as the passengers) and arrived with time to spare for the flight to Amsterdam.

Arrived in Schiphol soon enough and it was drizzling. Had a nice surprise when the blond and blue-eyed lady immigration officer greeted me with selamat datang and bade me selamat jalan . I was expecting to see many Indonesians and Indo-dutch people around, but not from this lady who looked as Indonesian as I am Italian.

Took the train to Amsterdam Centraal station and by the time we got there, the rain was in full force. We had to walk the short distance to the Damrak Hotel and in due course got drenched wet and miserably cold.

Fahmy and Muk went off to the coffeeshops while I decided to brave the rain and went exploring. With a map in hand (though rendered completely useless since the rain turned it into mush in my hands), again I got lost. I was trying to get to van Gogh Museum and HRC, which looked near and easy enough on the map, but ended up overshooting the right bridge by miles and had to backtrack in the pouring rain. It was kinda hard trying to find the right canal bridge since I only had this clue to follow after the map was KIA - take the 7th bridge. Needless to say, I lost count.

Managed to find HRC, but not van Gogh Museum so I headed back towards Dam Square. On the way I remembered that the Anne Frank House was somewhere on the route so I set off to look for it. Found it quite easily on Prinsengracht, thanks to my pathfinder skills (and an abundance of signboards) and spent some time in the glorious heat of the House/Museum.

Had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant somewhere in the maze of Amsterdam streets. Note to self, next time read the menu fully before ordering. I saw a set menu and after reading one or two items and checking the price I ordered it. Then I read the whole thing only to discover Babi Ketjap (pork cooked in soy sauce) as one of the items in the set menu! Luckily the nice Bapak had no problems with me changing my order.

The night was spent in Baba coffeeshop, not doing anything much really =P

Then it's back in the rain to return to the hotel. I was feeling very disappointed since it rained heavily for the whole day and night, I went to bed wishing for at least several hours of sunshine the next day.

Woke up to semi cloudy skies, but at least it wasn't raining. Went back to the nice canals to take some pictures and before you know it, it's time to head back to Schiphol. Greeted with an apa khabar and was sent on my way with a selamat jalan by the guy at the passport checking counter, and with that my Euro Trip ends.

It wasn't as hectic as the other legs, and the rain helped to enforce that too. I was a bit disappointed, but we can only plan right? So travelling to and fro 5 countries in 9 days, 6 airports, inclusive of 2 nights spent at the airport, a missed flight, a wrongly booked hotel, Raya at the Eiffel tower, a flamenco experience not to forget, numerous gelattos consumed and happy times at the coffeeshops (and also 1200 photos snapped), all the effort, time and money consumed was well worth it. It might be the one and only time I'll have the opportunity to do this, and I'm glad I grabbed it with both hands.

Ohh, the aftermath? I spent about RM5-6k on the Euro Trip (lost count really) all in, wrecked a (formerly new) white Jack Purcell from all the walking, blistered and chafed feet to boot too (that last 4 words sounds Swahili pulak dah), lost some weight (yay!), got tanned (not so yay), and gained a whole lot of experience. Would I do it again given the chance? In a heartbeat ;)


kidd said...

"Babi Ketjap (pork cooked in soy sauce)..."

KOW KEE experience all over again,i say.kalau lambat sikit lagi, dapat la lu rasa kesedapan masakan itu, adakah sesedap pau kow kee?hahaha.

err...kedai kopi tu 24hours ke?sayuran kat sana apa macam?

|1f34|-|1r3 said...

hohohohoho...mana ko tahu Bapak tuh xmasak dlm satu periuk....kuang kuang kuang..silap2 dia buat sup babi tuh...

The Banker said...

kidd: x ah, die tutup 1am or something. the veggies are excellent bro!

life4hire: tuh la, agak cuak bila pikir balik now. tp apa bleh buat...haha

kidd said...

I don't know the difference between a cafe and a coffe shop in Amsterdam until Deuce Bigalow:Erupean Gigolo got me an education.

Amsterdam:Disneyland for college kids.

and don't neglect your veggies kids.veggies GOOD!

aishah said...

it's been so long since i last checked in here. so many entries i've missed.
kena cari masa to read these all. hoho.

The Banker said...

kidd: ape lg, simpan la duit untuk melawat 'motherland' kau

aishah: these 4 entries are a bit long since i want to jot down my travel memories while its still fresh in mind, hehe

kidd said...

Dont Bank On It aka D.B.O.I

DBOI, nice huh?

Haha...by the time i'll rack up enough money, i won't be in the age of enjoying that anymore.but life's start at 40, so what the heck!

nurulazreenazlan said...

The Van Gogh Museum and the HRC in Amsterdam are a bitch to find!

Susah gila, but I ended up exploring the streets, so it wasn't all bad.

Did you check out the red light district? It's red all right =)

The Banker said...

nurulazreenazlan: yeah, i wonder why they chose such a secluded place to open up the hrc. i would've missed it if i weren't so persistent. the back streets are so nice too, i braved the rain since no one else will be out and about during that time ;)

oh yes, now i know why they call it that..lol. i actually stayed at damstraat, so it was very near to red light district, hehe