This was my first time in Amsterdam and let me tell you I was really surprised in a good way! I bought my train ticket from Paris to Amsterdam at the last minute and already I was in for a surprise. Due to the late timing, the price of the regular tickets were very high, so high that in fact it was the same price as the first class tickets. Can you guess what I bought? A first class ticket. The seat was a lot more comfortable, the service… mama mia, I was wined and dined non-stop all the way to the end. Hilariously enough, Lola (the cockatiel) sang and whistled the entire way. At first the people in the cabin with me were sure it was my computer and so kindly requested that I turn it down. When I explained it was a very happy little parrot, they smiled, laughed and wanted to know more. So I was lucky.
Once I arrived, I asked one of the people in the cabin how to get to my friend’s house and I showed him the address. He was able to tell me which train/ metro to take and explained how to find it. Of course, the minute I walked out I forgot, so I stood there looking around and all of a sudden I hear a voice behind me telling me where to go. It was someone else from the cabin. I thanked the man and went where he told me. I then looked for the signs to continue my way and again was lost. I turned around on the off chance that the friendly commuter was right behind me and there he was. Immediately he explained the rest of the way I had to take. Off I go to buy my ticket.
At the automatic ticket machine, I saw they had so many options I didn’t know what to choose. I turned around and asked the couple behind me. They gladly helped me along to choose which ticket would be the best and to purchase it.
Next step is the train/ metro itself. I get on, put the travel cages between my legs, my bag next to me and stand by the door. Since I’m in the habit of answering with kisses whenever one of my birds makes a kissy noise, I am always careful to make sure I am looking at the cage as I do it so girls around me don’t think I am sending them kisses… An older couple standing next to me took out some gum. The guy gave some to his wife, took one and then looks at me and asks me if I want. Surprised, I say yes. Surprised because it was as though he was reading my thoughts. I had just been thinking that if I was in Israel I’d be able to ask for one without it seeming too weird. Whereas in France, where I’d been staying for about 2 months that would be an absolute no. All of a sudden, I liked Amsterdam even more. They taught me the names of the birds in Dutch.
I got to the last station and asked someone how to get to where I needed. He showed me on a map how to get there. Turns out, he showed me a roundabout way and it was just starting to rain… I saw someone whom I recognized to probably be Muslim (beard, no mustache) and thought I’d give it a go. I ask him how to get to where I need. He looks at me and says, put your baggage in the trunk and get in the car. I gladly do. He looks it up and says he’ll take me. He tells me that he used to have birds when he was a kid. We talk about ourselves a bit and he says “we’re cousins then” (what Arabs and Jews call each other). So I say out loud “You see my lovely birds! We chose the right person to ask. He’s our cousin AND he loves birds!” He started laughing. Two minutes later we were at my friend’s house.
When walking around town a few days later, I noticed everyone was so friendly. Which greatly reinforced my feelings about the city. I could strike up a conversation with anyone there. It was absolutely incredible.
Turns out that a lot of Amsterdam slang is closely related to Hebrew. It was so funny!
Now… Amsterdam is known amongst many things for its Red District. So when I saw on all of their flags an “XXX” I assumed it was related. Turns out it is not. Each X represents something they stand for. And by not using the words themselves, rather using the X’s it is flexible. After WWII they actually changed it to reflect their new values.
All in all, Amsterdam was a great experience and I look forward to going back there again.