I’m sitting in the Antwerp Centraal station, waiting for my train to Amsterdam. I’m in a new city, in a new reality. Above me are three more levels of train tracks. It’s a huge world.
What will the next eight days give me? It’s such a mystery, and I’m thrilled to be smack dab in the middle of it.
Half an hour ago I looked out from my window and saw ancient buildings and masses of parked bicycles. Then I snapped to the realization that I was no longer in Ghent. This was elsewhere in Belgium. Brand new.
As I followed the route on Google Maps, I saw that there was a highway far to my right which was slowly going to come close to the tracks. Way over there was a huge green truck, hauling some load. I got excited to think that in a few seconds I’d be right beside the driver.
Road joined train tracks and no truck came by. (Sigh) I guess I was travelling faster than my new friend.
On I go
The second step of my journey was strange. Into the flatness of The Netherlands – farmers’ fields and virtually none of the old buildings that I so treasure in Ghent. Rivers were crossed by tunnels underneath, so no great expanses of water favoured my eyes. And often there was a really high fence beside my window, way above my head. Part of the fence had a pattern that I could see through but I still felt hemmed in. No real sense of what The Netherlands is.
Upon arriving at Amsterdam Centraal Station, I made a mistake. I was so focused on figuring out the local public transportation that I barely noticed the building towering above me. Tomorrow I’ll rectify the situation. Tomorrow I return to the heart of Amsterdam.
After buying my four-day pass for the Metro, buses and trams, I was ridiculously focused on getting to my Airbnb. No doubt my great need to pee had something to do with it.
I took the M52 Metro to Noorderpark Station, then Bus 35 to Purmerweg. Each step of the way I was graced with helpful people. I admitted to one woman that I didn’t speak Flemish. She looked at me funny till I realized I’m in The Netherlands, not Belgium. The language is Dutch, not the dialect of Dutch called Flemish.
Harry is a great host and after an introduction to his place I did what any polite guest would do … I fell asleep.
I searched Google Maps for dinner and found a neighbourhood called Waterlandplein about a 15-minute walk away. The descriptions of the several restaurants in the area all lacked a word that may be essential for human happiness – “beer”. Oh well. I set off anyway.
I passed through an exquisite park. Wide green spaces, picnic tables, mature trees, a lake with white birds enjoying themselves, and this:
Yes. A family of four enjoying each other. Parks are for people.
I was indeed correct about the beer. The penne with salmon was scrumptious but the server confirmed that there were no pubs anywhere near.
What’s a man to do? I was looking for a funky place to sip and write. Google, the Bus 35 route and friendly locals landed me here … at Pllek. And as you can see, all is well:
There’s a whole lot of Amsterdam water out there, and right in front of me folks lounging on tables, in red chairs and plush bean bag sanctuaries. The beach is tiny pebbles that feel good underfoot.
It’s a happy Monday
To be followed naturally by a happy Tuesday
2 thoughts on “The Journey: Day One”
Have a nice trip discover New things and people. The architecture is different then Ghent. Lost a things on canals, river, water. Like Venice.
Thank you, Sabrine. Today I will explore Amsterdam centrum.