Amsterdamn Column (Published October 18, 2008)

So far, everything in England has been amazing. We’ve traveled a bit, seen the sights, but it wasn’t until last weekend that we decided to finally take the plunge and do some real European exploring. And what an adventure it was.

We decided on Friday that we were going to try and make it to Munich in time for the last weekend of Oktoberfest. So we hopped on a train to Liverpool, then from Liverpool to London. All good. There was a moment when an angry ticket agent asked us where we wanted to go. I said, “Munich”.

“You want to go WHERE?”

“…Munich?”

“NOT FROM HERE YOU’RE NOT!”

We were at the wrong station. We needed to go down the street…but I refused to leave the station until I got my picture taken in from of Platform 9 and ¾. It was probably one of the best moments of the trip.

After a quick visit to a pub to… warm up… we discovered that all of the trains from London to Germany were booked. So, on the spur of the moment, it was decided that we would go to Amsterdam instead. We bedded down for the night in the train station which, at the time, was a balmy 37 degrees. After making friends with a French guy named Thomas and getting asked out by three Spanish college students, our train finally arrived and we took off for Amsterdam bright and early and hating the world.

Upon our arrival, we were asked at customs why, particularly, four American college students would have the desire to go to Amsterdam. I told him: “the architecture, of course”.

The trip was fairly uneventful. I had never been so glad for the things my mom has taught me, nor have I ever been so glad that my mother was 2000 miles away. After spending an exciting day…looking at architecture….we got ready to head home. It was then that the trip took an interesting turn for the worst. The train workers in Belgium, where we had come from, were on strike, and because of this, the trains were running at odd times and being rerouted. We were stuck, at least temporarily, for the night in Amsterdam.

Finally, after nearly being robbed by an unscrupulous innkeeper (who would only have been creepier if his name was Norman Bates), we wound up in a respectable hotel with a courteous staff , hot water and clean towels–all things the previous choices charged extra money for.

After taking the early train out, we made a horrible discovery. We had been sold the wrong tickets for the train ride home, and because of the train strike, the trains were booked through to next week. We visited three different ticket agents, we still hadn’t gotten anywhere. The only thing we had been told was that all the seats were booked and that if a seat opened up, we would have to pay an additional 75 Euros per ticket. Not an option. We were still stuck, and I was terrified.

It was at this moment, stranded in Belgium, tired, hungry, broke and completely lost that I realized the seriousness of my situation. It was also the moment I remembered that I was a theatre major who can cry on cue.

We rode home, for free, in first class.

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