Monday, October 5, 2009
Day 1, Part 2: Schiphol Amsterdam
I sat next to an absolutely charming Dutch gentleman on the flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam. He said I look Dutch, and he isn’t the first one to have said it. Now that I’m in Holland, I must agree. I’m trying to blend in as much as possible, so I’m stoked. Unfortunately, I won’t have further opportunity to blend in with Nederlanders: I can’t change my ticket to have a week-long layover here, no matter how much money I throw at them. I wish I figured that out earlier, then I would have coughed up the 6,40 eu to take the train into the city and look around for an hour or two, but instead I just walked outside the airport during my long layover.
Flying in was pretty once we got under the clouds. I could see the Dutch architecture straight off of postcards, with modern buildings sprinkled in too. I was most impressed at how FLAT the place is though. It’s obvious that this place should be flat as a pancake- otherwise there would be no worry of flooding and fighting back the sea. It’s all at sea level. But really, it's flat. The layout of irrigation canals (or places that they gave up on keeping dry?) was cool- orderly and hectic all at the same time. The flowers aren't in bloom, so I didn't have a post-card worthy view.
I have been checking out women’s shoes and fashion as my layover pastime. My pink Spanish cowgirl boots were a good call, women do take their footwear seriously here. If I really wanted to be cool though, I should have bought calf length flat soled leather boots. Maybe I still should, given that I love boots. Flats and tights are pretty popular too, as are bright and flashy heels. I’ve also seen a good deal of hipster sneakers too. I have spotted zero Chacos and only one pair of flip-flops-Americans beware? Cute fitted jackets are in, as are belted dresses or long shirts over tights or skinny jeans. Unfortunately for me, all these fashions are best for skinny-legged women. What does the beefy Dutch girl wear? I will keep my eyes peeled for the stubby-legged muscular woman, and check her out for my fashion oracle. I feel pretty out of place here, but when I catch a look at myself in the mirror, I don’t feel so bad. Maybe I’m not stylin’, but I certainly could have done much worse for myself, and I don’t look abnormally large compared to women here, just not thin.
I am in shock about prices here. Yes, it’s the airport, where things are always on sale at high prices, yes, I have a tendency to be stingy and in shock about prices as a daily routine. The price in euros for most things is about what I’d expect in USD, maybe a bit better (beer and brat for 6 euro). The thing is, I paid $1.52 for every single E1,00. That’s what they mean by “the dollar is weaker.” I was expecting that euros would be worth more - what I bought for $1.00 would be E0,67 here. Not quite the case, the value and money conversions are at different rates, and in the end, the dollar is worth less. The biggest shocker for me was the rail into town- E6,40 to get there and back, or about $10. As a train ride, that seems ok, but as a commuter train… I paid $1.75 for a bus ride in Anchorage the other day, I’m pretty sure the train in Atlanta was less than $3.50 for a two-way pass.