I spent more time riding the bus from Milton Keynes to the airport and waiting at the airport than I did in the air to get to Amsterdam. If I did the trip again, either way I think I would try to train that I found out about. In my head I went, there is lots of water I have to fly. I had no idea there was a train across from the UK to Europe. Clearly I don’t research heaps. Anyway, I arrived at Amsterdam airport and made my way outside to try to meet Twan! He was lovely enough to come pick me up and let me stay with him for the next week in Zaandam.

If you have just tuned in, earlier in the year (August) I went to Modem festival in Croatia and met an awesome bunch of folks. We all didn’t really want to just say goodbye, so I planned to come visit them, and here I am.

The issue with meeting Twan was I had no clue where I should be to meet people that aren’t taxis at this airport. Also, Twan’s phone is apparently pretty rubbish, and mine does this thing – mostly with short flights. The pressure does something to the speaker (it doesn’t last too long but long enough to be annoying straight after being on a plane) so it was sounding super glitchy and difficult to communicate. I am glad that he seemed to at least be able to hear me enough, that he was looking for me in the right spot. I heard down the phone line “Is your suitcase pink too?”. Yes! Yes it is. Having pink hair and a pink suitcase makes me super easy to find apparently. So clearly I am not inconspicuous and if I was on any watch list, I have made it very very easy for me to be watched.

I just stayed still where I was while I waited for Twan to come find me and direct me to the car. Sorted. It was so good to catch up! That night Netherlands were playing in the World Cup and so we were heading to Tosca’s to hang out with people and watch the game. We stopped off to grab some drink to head over with, I was getting a bottle of wine, except none of my cards wanted to work for me. I don’t think that any of my digital systems had quite picked up that I was now in the Netherlands. They were all still used to me being in the UK. Twan again rescued me and we were on our way.

We got there and were greeted at the door by Rory! OMG, that was the greatest reaction I have ever had to someone seeing me. It felt so nice! Rory clearly had no idea that I was rocking up so his double take and little excited jumps definitely made me feel welcome!
Once inside I got to catch up with Patrick and meet some friends and fam of the crew. Tosca had got something in her eye and was washing it out so when I heard her voice call Nat, as she came down the stairs it was awesome to see her too!
It was about half time in the game, and we watched enough of the game to see that Netherlands won!

It was so surreal to now be here. Hanging out and catching up with these amazing people I met at a festival a couple months ago. The connection from Modem to now was still going strong! We just spent the evening hanging out and catching up before Twan and I walked back to his place.

On Tuesday I just had a stay in and work day. After losing a few days of productivity I was falling behind and really needed to get back on top of things. I did go for a walk to the local supermarket though. I only picked up a handful of items as I just wanted to test my cards and make sure they were working again fine. It was all good. I headed back to Twan’s with my peanut butter and rice crackers to do some more work. By having this solid day at work it also allowed myself to take Wednesday off to head into Amsterdam to explore. Balance…

That night after Twan got home from work we just ordered in dinner and had a chill night.

The next day i went and figured out how to catch trains in the Netherlands. The station was a 20 minute walk away so I went for a stroll there. It took me a minute trying to figure out where to go to get into the actual train station bit. Some woman spotted my unsureness and asked me something in Dutch, which I replied with English? She answered me with an American accent and pointed me in the right way… The kindness of strangers.

Once in the station it was easy enough to work out the ticket machine and get myself a return trip ticket for the day which cost €6.80. The trains here were pretty cool. They have upstairs and downstairs seating. I chose to head upstairs for my first double decker train experience. It’s a pretty quick ride into Amsterdam Central from Zaandam (only 2 stops).

Damo had recommended the Van Gogh Museum to me, so that was pretty much the only thing on my to do list. Other than that I was just keen to wander around and explore the city. So I decided to head to the museum. Some KAWS pieces at another gallery on the way pulled me in. So I checked out some other pieces that I wish I had a larger bank account so I could buy them. I then got to the Van Gogh Museum and the ticket booth said only online sales. So remember when I said I don’t do much planning. I never even thought to look it up online. So I went to see if there were any tix and they were all sold out, like for the WHOLE time I was going to be in the Netherlands! I had a little walk around the Museum shop though before deciding I was hungry and I would go eat.

Eating is worth doing when you’re not sure what else to do in a moment and need to sit down and regroup. Well, while I was doing that I had a quick peek at some AirBnB experiences and found a tour that looked good. Flagged that for revisiting later. I then also decided to go look at the Tiqets app. I hadn’t used it since Greece. Well, it just turned out that the Van Gogh Museum popped up and there were tickets available for me to buy through them. I booked a ticket for the entry in an hours time and happily ate my meal knowing I was going to see some Van Gogh! Apparently the museum itself may not have any tickets left to sell, however the third party apps just might. So I am sharing this information with anyone else who thinks to just go to the source for tickets. You may just screw yourself over if you don’t double check the on-sellers too.

After eating I headed back to the museum. As I approached the entry I overheard a guy looking to enter being told that they were sold out for the day. One of the women at the door though mentioned to him something about apparently there being some third party site that had some. I of course, pipped up and said yeah, Tiqets. Having just discovered this for myself an hour ago. The guy then came over to me and asked for more info – so I spelt it out and got him navigated to the website and watched him purchase his ticket and pleasantly walk straight on through.

I then also got to enter and enjoyed my time looking at all the art! I actually got to see my favourite Van Gogh painting – Irises. (Which are my favourite flower.) I love the feeling of seeing your favourite pieces of art in real life. When you have connected with a picture and a reprint over and over again, there really is something magical about seeing the texture of the piece on the canvas which before someone once sat. I love thinking about all the other people over the years that have also enjoyed having a similar experience. There is a sense of connection across time and space.

By the time I was leaving the museum it had started to rain and I was trying to aim to get back to Zaandam before it got too dark. By the time I got back it had just gotten dark. There were plans for dinner tonight with Nina ( a friend I hadn’t met yet) was coming over and Rory was also joining. It was a good evening, Twan made some amazing wraps and it turned out that Bas, Michael, and Lianne also were coming over! I had now collected the full set of Dutch Crew in the Netherlands. (those that were currently in the Netherlands – Jurian was having his first solo travel experience in Bali).

It was a lovely night catching up with everyone and meeting Nina. Who before we said goodnight asked what I was doing the next day. My plan at that point was just to have another work day and cook a curry. Nina suggested that after she finished work we could go check out the Zaanse Schans. Which I said yes to, of course.