After a 10 hour flight, during which I watched three and a half movies (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I, The Chronicles of Narnia Voyage of the Dawn Trader, The Social Network, and part of Happy Feet) and listened to two small children scream for nearly the whole flight, I arrived in Amsterdam where I had a 12 hour layover.
I stowed some stuff in a locker at the airport then took the train to the central station. It was only a 10 minute ride to downtown, which was great. Also, the train was very nice and quiet. If only BART could be like that!
I can count the number of European cities I’ve been to on one hand so I was really eager to get a look at Amsterdam. I started by taking a canal tour with a group of tourists. The hour long boat ride on the canals was a great introduction to the city. I can’t believe how the buildings just rise out of the water like that. Apparently most buildings are built on basically a pile of mud; I really hope they never have an earthquake.
Amsterdam is a very walkable and rideable city. I nearly rented a bike to ride around for the afternoon, but was later very glad that I didn’t because the local bikers are very aggressive and the tourist bikers don’t know what the hell they are doing. Plus I got very tired in the afternoon and it would be very difficult to ride and check a map at the same time. I walked around the highlights of town, had a nice sandwich at a cafe, and enjoyed a park. I wish fewer people smoked.
I tried to go to the Van Gogh museum, but there was an hour long line just to get in, so I went around the corner to the Rijksmuseum, which has a lot of classical art, like Rembrandt and Vermeer. The museum, although expensive, was a good size so that by the time I felt like I couldn’t take in much more art, I was at the end.
To treat myself, I got some ice cream and ate in the park near by then decided it was better to just head back to the airport when I started falling asleep in my chair.
You can check out some pictures here:
From Amsterdam I flew to Nairobi, Kenya (during the flight I watched The Tourist and The Fighter) where I had a two hour layover. No free internet but I was able to charge one of the cell phones I had been given, which was really great.
Finally from Nairobi, it’s just a one hour hop to Zanzibar!