Day One: July 1st
Good Morning! We have safely arrived in Iceland where the local time is 6:30am. It is around 3:35am in New Jersey I believe. The flight was okay, minor turbulence which didn’t really bother me, however, not being able to recline the seat did. The extra leg room did not make up for having to cramp and crank my body around for a comfortable position. Nonetheless I took a Z-Quil and was out like a light. On the plus side, we received pillows, blankets, and water bottles, which is good I guess.
The Iceland airport is a shuttle bus away from the tarmac. As soon as the plane landed, they opened the doors and you walked right out into the world. There was nothing around to see, just tiny groups of towns far away but still within eye distance. Purple flowers on bushes scattered across the land and mountains between. In the airport we grabbed a bite to eat. Everything was “around $6 American.” I bought a sandwich, handed her $7 dollars and she handed me back a lump sum of Icelandic coins. Lindsey bought yogurt, and the two of us feasted. Probably the best yogurt I have ever tasted and the sandwich was pretty good.
The layover didn’t feel very long and within 3 ½ hours we landed in Amsterdam! The local time here is 3:30pm and it is so hot! There is a steady heat in the air, my phone reads 90 degrees. The directions to our hostel are a little confusing, but we try our best. To me, Amsterdam looks similar to San Francisco in a way. The buildings are so beautiful with flowers, moss and color embellishment. Unlike New York City, the rooftops are not straight and flat; they are all arched and curved giving the city a distinct look. The streets are lined with tram car rails and very little traffic lights and signs. It is a bustling city that got very quiet at night.
From the airport we had to take a train to the city, and from train station, we took a tram. The directions say to get off at the tenth stop, but we had to walk back the other way for a few minutes until the directions matched up again. All of the street names look the same to us, and what should have been a five minute walk to the hostel, turned into twenty minutes, in the blazing heat, carrying 22lbs on our backs, jetlagged. Welcome to Europe.
Arriving at the hostel I experienced the first taste of backpacking Europe on a post college grad’s budget. Hotel Cosmos (which was not a hotel at all), is this wrap around staircase walkup. Thankfully we were on the second floor, room 206. We open the door to a small/medium sized room with 6 sets of bunk beds all with backpacks on them. The room is painted grey and has one light in the middle of the ceiling. There is a large door the opens to a small balcony filled with garbage cans, the air flow is minimal. Fortunately we were placed in a room with all girls; unfortunately there are twelve of us.
After dropping off our bags, we walked around and gazed at Amsterdam’s beauty. We found a festival in the courtyard of a museum. There is live music, food stands, and people everywhere. We walked around and checked out attractions on a map. I bought a curry flavored chicken dish that was handed to me in fried bread, which was better tasting than I expected. The amount of money I spent on water thus far amazed me. It is so hot out that in order to sustain life you needed to buy a water bottle every 5-10 minutes, ranging from 1 euro – 3 euro’s a pop.
Around 6:45pm, Chelsea arrived and met us back at the hostel. I was passed out on the top bunk, I think from the jetlag but also the heat. The four of us got ready for dinner, taking turns waiting for the showers since there was only two. When it was finally my turn, I was so excited for a nice cold shower to bring some life back into me. Let me tell you, this shower was 100% not going to bring me happiness. It looked nice and clean, with a small button to push for the water to come out. Upon one push, 10 seconds worth of scalding hot water pour out. Long story short, I stuck my head in the sink and bathed like a Neanderthal. At least the water was cool, not cold, cool. After my shower I foolishly thought I could put on makeup and it would stay on, I did it anyway but by the time we left it looked like I didn’t even shower.
Around 9pm, we left the hostel, starving. We walked around for a while looking for a place to eat that wouldn’t break the bank. By 11, we finally found one, the only bar that still had the kitchen open. It was confusing because the sky was so bright; it wasn’t until fifteen minutes past midnight that it was noticeably dark out. We ordered this delicious bruschetta to start. For dinner, I ordered steak, peppers and onions and a Hoegaarden beer. The food was amazing. After dinner we walked around and found a gelato place. The city was so quiet. Granted it was a Wednesday night, but it was quieter than I expected for a popular city.
When we got back to the hostel everyone in the room was sleeping. It was pitch dark aside from the flashlights on our phones. I managed to change into pj’s and now had to climb to the top bunk which did not have a ladder. Praying to God, I didn’t step on this poor sleeping girls face. I had all my stuff on my bed and looked for my contact case so I could give my eyes a rest. I couldn’t find it in any pocket, and I thought maybe I left it on the sink in the room. So I risked my life and leaped off the bed, trying to not shake the bottom bunk. Just my luck it wasn’t there. By the time I hurled myself back up into the bed I was so hot and tire I just decided to sleep with them in. Being in a hostel for the first time and hearing scary stories, I slept with all of my belongings. In a twin sized bed, on the top bunk, I put my backpack by my head and shoved loose items like my phone, kindle, and charger inside of the folded up thicker blanket the hostel gave to us. I slept with my purse across my body and my button down shirt and a sheet. The room felt like it was a million degrees. I thought I was going to suffocate that’s how thick the air felt. As soon as I stopped moving and began to fall asleep a hot, muggy blanket of dry air rested over my face.