After making it back to the Philadelphia airport, I met up with my dad, and waited around for the flight to Amsterdam. This was the first time in a very long time that I would be taking a trip with my dad and I realized just how cool being a pilot is. I had the opportunity to sit in on the pre-flight meetings and check list. We mapped out the rout we were going to take, and which track we would be flying that night. A track is like a road in the sky. Every day there are a bout 15 tracks for flights to choose from over the Atlantic. After we found the best for our flight we plotted the course, and completed what is known as “connect the dots”. This is essentially plotting every time the plane will take a turn, or change course during the flight, and also when we will start our descend. The weather check told us where and when exactly we would be having a bit of turbulence, and we figured an arrival time down to the minute. It was a very cool experience, and after all of that work I now realize that the actual flying of the plane is only half of the work.
We arrived at about 9 AM Amsterdam time, which means my body thought it was about one in the morning. The hotel was actually located in the city of Den Haag so we had to take a bus there to drop our stuff, and then it was off to Amsterdam. The train ride to the city was about 45 minutes, but it was a nice ride through the countryside of the Netherlands. There were fields upon fields of colorful flowers, and what seemed like every few hundred yards a windmill would pop up. Every so often a small town would appear, which featured waterways instead of roads. Many houses had boats alongside them rather than cars. I had no idea this would just be the beginning of an endless city of canals.
After we arrived to Amsterdam around noon, we began our exploration of the city. My first impression was an obvious one. Amsterdam sure does love their bikes. As soon as I walked out of the train station there were thousands of bikes lining the streets, and parking garages. When I say parking garages I am talking about a parking garage for bikes, literally thousands. The second staple of the city I quickly noticed were the canals. I knew Venice was famous for their canals, but I had no idea there were so many in Amsterdam. Every street was accompanied with a canal or two running along side it. It was a very cool dynamic, and something I have never seen before.
One of my favorite things about Europe is the idea that you can walk around a city and continue to be amazed by what seems to be the ordinary. Amsterdam is no exception.It seemed like after every turn there was a structure, or a church that was hundreds of years old, and filled with history. Block by block I was amazed how every building seemed to fit the same personality as the one next to it. This continuity with the architecture, along with the small streets, and hundreds of canals gave this heavily populated city a small city feel. The absence of hundreds of zooming cars driving around also helped out with that small city feel.
While there were less cars driving around, there was certainly no shortage of danger on the streets.Numerous times my dad and I were holding each other back from getting run over by a swarm of bikes. It took a while to get used to the different streetlights; one for the cars, one for the bikes, and finally one for pedestrians. One time we were literally standing on a street corner waiting for five minuets, scared out of our minds and unsure when to cross. We eventually made it across, and continued on.
While watching the funds, we decided to just take ourselves around the city and walk the entire day. In my opinion there is no better way to see a city then get lost in one.We did make a point to see a few sights of Amsterdam. We walked by Anne Franks house, which from the outside looks like a military prison/museum, then passed by the now famous “ I amSTERDAM” sign, and even walked through the red-light district. You might be thinking; did this kid really walk through the red-light district with his dad?You betchya. It was in the middle of the day, so it was relatively harmless.Nonetheless, it was a lot of walking but well worth it. Before deciding to head back to Den Haag, we decided to sit for a while and enjoy one last Heineken for the road. I was once again reminded that Europe has far better beer than in the states, or in Amsterdam’s case much better bier.
A nap on the train and we were quickly back in Den Haag with just enough time to walk around for bit. This city was just as interesting. While Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, Den Haag is where all of the government is located, including the world court. If you ever plan on committing a crime against humanity, plan on getting tried, and sentence in Den Haag. Den Haag was a very nice city, much like Amsterdam but not as nice, and with fewer canals. Walking around the business district it was a bit slow, because everyone had gone home for the day.
It was getting late and my Dad and I had worked up quite the appetite walking around the entire day. We were told about this rib joint close to the hotel that had all you can eat ribs. I know, an all you can eat rib joint in the Netherlands? We said what the heck, and enjoyed some ribs, which were surprisingly very tasty.
After getting lost one last time we finally made it back to the hotel ready to crash. It was a very long day, and even longer couple of days but well worth it, and was nice to get out of the routine of my life in the States. Whether it’s for one day, or two weeks I will always jump at the opportunity to travel. Traveling the world, and even domestically is something that I have learned you can never get enough of. The feeling of a new place, new people, and new experiences forces you to grow as a person, and learn so much. I cannot wait for my next experience, and hope everyone will take the opportunity to travel whenever they might
Next stop: Shanghai, China.