Saturday, May 11, 2013

To Amsterdam and Berlin

Pausing for a moment to think about the last few days certainly brings a smile to my face. Getting sunburnt in Lisbon, rained on in Amsterdam, and something perfectly in-between in Berlin. Our trip so far certainly has had variety, and we are only about six days into it.

Leaving Lisbon was a travel confidence booster for us. It had been entertaining to sleep each night with the sound of riff raff out on the street but when we discovered the metro was closed at the time of morning we were to fly out; I quickly became uncomfortable with the prospect of waiting outside at four in the morning. That night I hardly slept as I listened to the arguing and abuse on the street below. We could call a taxi, but the hotel owner who didn't speak English, had told us previously (through hand gestures) that we should just wave one down.

4am arrives and we awake to silence. We pack our bags and head out into the night air. There is barely a soul to be seen other than a man at our bus stop dressed in tweed with his bag of groceries nestled safely next to him. Two young travelers, one in a naval hat, join us at the stop and all of a sudden we begin to feel safe, and who wouldn't with a tweed ninja and a navy officer for company?

The bus, although late, picked us up and took us to the airport. It even stops to pick up a pilot on the way. Now, I take a slight issue with a pilot taking the bus to work. I like to put pilots in a similar category to doctors. People who dwell above the realms of us common people. I'd like to think after work, both doctors and pilots sit in sterilized rooms, reading every aviation/medical book in existence to add to their already flawless skill-sets. I don't like the idea of a pilot using public transport as much as I wouldn't like seeing my doctor throwing up in a gutter.

The flight to Amsterdam was event-free, and we trekked to our campsite just out of the city (on an island surrounded by highways). It rained as it normally does when you need to walk somewhere with a large backpack, but we arrived at Camp Zeeburg quite happy to dry off and roll into our wagonette for a couple of days. I'm glad we weren't in a tent as it was freezing especially compared to Lisbon. The wagonette must be built for summer though as it was bit cold in there. Apart from that, the campsite is really nice and has a great restaurant/bar, shower facilities and a ripoff washing machine. It certainly did us ok for a couple of nights while we were in Amsterdam.

Pip and I loved Amsterdam. We didn't go to the red light district nor did we didn't smoke weed in a cafe. We did skip down the canals dodging bicycles, we did look into people windows and marvel at their fantastic déor, we did venture out to the windmills and walk the parks. But, the weather was a bit of a dampener and it spoiled our trip out to the tulip fields, plus the big royal festival that weekend made the lines into the Rijksmuseum far too long to bother with.

I felt we got enough out of the city to look back fondly; however, I'd love to go back to finish it off. With only one full day, I think we did ok.

We are now in Berlin, and the sun has just set on our second night. I do like this city more than I thought I would. I will reveal more once we have finished up here and are on our way to Prague.