Andrew Ampersand Willey in Amsterdam

Who Am I? Andrew ‘Ampersand’ Willey 10427502

Where Am I? Amsterdam

But first, how did I get here?

A brief, yet teary, embrace with the family was my first step before marching through the airport gates in Sydney. My baggage was checked, I had boarding pass in hand and was enroute to the wildest thing I have every chosen to do. A couple of ludicrous purchases in duty free, a couple sneaky whisky and cokes in the gate lounge to settle the nerves and at 2:15 Friday the 1st of August I left Sydney on a big jet plane. 16 hours of cramped seat, plastic ‘super constipate you food’ and a reasonable selection of movies later I arrived at my one stop over destination.

Abu Dhabi is a dessert, no lights barring those I landed in. I arrived there at some hour of the late evening and shuffled my way along the red carpeted halls. My time in Abu Dhabi is a melange of momentary rests, bouts of purchases in a currency worth far less than the Euros I carried, all segmented by alarms set to now irrelevant Australian Hours. I left Abu Dhabi as I found it, tired, confused and humming with life.

Thanks to my older brother, who forked out the coin for my tickets, the final leg to Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam was a blessing. Plenty of leg room in an upgraded seat meant I could actually get some sleep and managed to snag about 5 hours worth. Thirty hours after I depart Sydney at 2:45pm Friday I arriveed in Amsterdam at 7am Saturday morning. It kinda felt like one really long night, even though it was closer to two days then the 14 hours relative.

A testament to Dutch hospitality, I was greeted at the airport with kindness and instruction, everyone seems to speak better English then the bastardised version I spout. My First lesson in Dutch was given when asking for a ticket to Amsterdam Zuid from the airport, Zuid is pronounced Soud or South. So I was headed to Amsterdam South(Zuid). I’ll take this opportunity to mention Dutch hospitality. Every instance of query or confusion I have experienced has been met with a stoic drive to ensure that, as a guest in their nation, I feel welcome and enjoy my self. There is a Dutch expression ‘gezellig’ or ‘gezelligheid’, it has no real English translation but that didn’t stop me trying to find one and so far it has been described tScreen Shot 2015-10-27 at 1.24.04 pmo me to mean, comfortable, cosy, relaxing, sociable, friendly, quaint, nice atmosphere and none of that specifically. This is the word the Dutch use to describe their being. They apply the same philosophy to towards their interaction with non-Dutch people also.

Where was I… Yes, the train to Amsterdam Zuid. This train was lightning, at max speed, these trains can push 160km/h on the straights and I believe on my trip, which consisted of leaving Schiphol Airport then arriving at Amsterdam Zuid 19 minutes later, we had to have reached close to 120km/h.

My arrival a Qbic Hotel was a sinch. It was a 100m walk from the station straight up a quiet road, lined with bikes… more bikes then I have ever seen, more bikes then are in Sydney are in this one street, more bikes then cars, more bikes then
trees, more bikes then people! A hundred meters and close to two thousand parked bikes later I was greeted out the front of Qbic by an impeccably dressed charming young European man who also spoke fantastic English… you know what, just assume that everyone I mention speaks English… and speaks it better then I do. So this young man Alex, politely informs me that check in isn’t until 3pm, its 7:45am. Ok so I’ve got some time…

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