I travel a lot, you all get that...but I want to be real with you, it isn’t always glamorous. Some excursions I get upgraded to first class and champagne drunk; others I have 4 connecting flights before my destination or 18 hour layovers. Would this bother some people? Abso-fucking-lutely, but for me, I see it as a challenge and being open to making those flights work has given me quiet a few amazing opportunities. This time around, I booked a flight to Morocco that gave me the chance to get weird in Amsterdam for 18 hours on the way! So if you’re up for it, buy the cheap flight with the extra long layover and see how weird you can get in that city in however many hours. I have a feeling this may be my new thing!
I left Portland International Airport, one of the top airports in the US, at 6 am with a Kombucha, some fruit, trail mix, and my book. Around 130pm, I landed in Atlanta and met up with Kayla for our flight to Amsterdam at 10 pm.
Day 1: Leaving the West Coast: Long, exciting day. I woke up at 4 am; did I even sleep? I boarded the plane, with my favorite Osprey backpack (*Pro-tip: only pack a carry on, it’s possible people), and met the beautiful Kayla, who you may recognize from many of my other adventures, in Atlanta. Our lunch break was at Ludacris’ restaurant, Chicken + Beer, followed by hours of drinking wine and doing yoga in the Delta Sky club. Once we officially met up, it was game on, how we’re we going to spend our 18 hours in Amsterdam?!
One of the most romantic moments in life, for me, is greeting/ meeting someone at the airport. There’s something about seeing someone at the airport for the first time in a while that makes my heart sin; it makes me feel warm, loved, and for just one second the world is on hold. These are the moments I absolutely live for, those short, beautiful moments, when you are fully present in mind, body, and soul and when you share those moments with people you love - you’ve done something right!
Day 2: 18 Hours in the Dam: After a few handstands in the quiet room of the Delta Club, we boarded our plane, sat one in front of the other, drank some more wine, which all flying “experts” say is a big no-no, and slept like chubby cheeked babies. *My top tricks to sleeping on the plane etc. to come soon!* I can see why travel experts say to avoid drinking while flying; it can make you bloated, dehydrated, etc. but it helps me sleep, stay warm, and why not?! Especially when it’s free! I’ve always enjoyed having a few glasses of wine while flying, it helps the time fly by faster.
Hours 1-2: We touched down at Schiphol Airport at 12:30pm, gathered our bags and made our way to the KLM Club to freshen up with some french girl showers *(pro-tip: pack cleansing wipes, toothbrush, dry shampoo, fresh undies, a clean shirt in an easy to reach spot)*. I’m a Delta Sky Club Gold Medallion member and staying loyal to one airline has it’s perks! I have free access for myself and one guest to ALL Delta partner airline sky clubs. Kayla and I were able to nosh on a great breakfast, hot coffee, and use a clean, private space to sluff off the overnight flight before catching the train into the city.
Hours 2-5: We stored our bags in one of the storage lockers available within the airport *(pro-tip: store your bags inside the airport security line, so you don’t have to deal with it when you come back!) and made our way through customs. Once outside of the airport, it’s was a short and cheap tram ride into Amsterdam Central! You can easily grab a ticket from the counter or any of the machines right as you walk out; tickets cost about $4 USD each way. We wanted to take in as much of the city as possible, so we settled on taking our time and walking to the Van Gogh museum. As we were walking we passed by a few memorable spots from my list time in the Dam, my 23rd birthday!
The Van Gogh museum has seemingly grown since the last time I was there almost 6 years ago. I also was in a very different state of mind the last time I was there, so it was very nice to experience Van Gogh’s work again. What a talented artist! I had no remembrance of the amazing collection of his Japanese inspired paintings, which I absolutely loved this time around! (*pro-tip: if you have limited time for museums go early or in the last hour, you’ll still get a chance to see everything and the crowds will be much smaller as many tourists have already left).
Hours 5-12: As usual, I got hangry, so a fancy hotel bar pit stop was the obvious next stop. We had a snack and some wine while chatting with some cute bartenders about where to eat. I got in touch with an old high school friend, Leslie and planned to meet her on the other side of the train station for dinner. We met up at a fancy restaurant that only has one prefix menu a night and decided against it as it was about $75 euro without any alcohol. We ended up finding a really cool local spot on the water just a little walk away, Hannekes Boom.
This place is SUPER cool, it’s off the beaten path a bit but worth the trip. The tables are done family style, in a first come first served/ whoever is most aggressive manner. We had to watch out for a table and make our presence known to be able to find a way in. We grabbed some beers and had a cig outside before finally managing a table shared with a group of locals. It turned out that the group of locals was “with the band” and we were front and center when a great guitarist/ singer took ‘the stage’ (they just moved our table over and made room for him to play). His friends were great and we ended up all singing along and laughing together for the next few hours. This spot is definitely somewhere the locals hang out and probably one of the coolest places to enjoy in the summer, as it’s right on the water, has a swing, and deck space galore. If I lived in Amsterdam, I’d hang out here all the time.
Hours 12-18: Around 11 pm we said goodbye to Leslie and made our way to other bars. We wandered into a place where we could have some beers and smoke hooka, so I dropped Kayla off there and made my way to pick up some pot. I wandered, found an ATM, went to The Bulldog to grab some weed and made my way back. By the time I got back to the bar, they were closing. Damn Amsterdam on a Wednesday night! We finished our drinks and smoked a joint and found our way to the famed “Grasshopper” in the red light district. It was super easy to make friends with the waitress and we found out that she was just recently in Morocco. Stoked on our newly gathered intel, we gifted her the rest of our Mary-Jane, save for our joint. Around 1 am, time started to get a bit hazy, we started our way back to the train station/ airport. We finished our joint before hopping the train back to the airport, this is where we messed up! We didn’t stop to get any snack for our time at the airport or on the train and I had the munchies pretty bad. I found some candy in my purse and made do. Then proceeded to pass out on said purse while we waited to check in to our flight to Marrakech!
Once we got checked into our flight and through security, we found some snacks and then exhausted and high we passed out on two benches pushed together. We actually almost slept through our flight out! (*pro-tip set an alarm and get snacks before going back to the airport (you’ll be hungry). It was a magical, rushed, and wild 18 hours in Amsterdam but it allowed me to meet up with an old friend, create new memories, experience more cultures and I wouldn't have it any other way!
We can get trapped in the idea that travel is all about the end destination; however, I believe that travel starts when you leave your front door, maybe even when purchasing your flight. The moments that are captured and experienced along the way to your destination are where true “adventure” can hide.
Traveling will test your patience, your compassion, sometimes even your need for sleep and it’s in these moments that we have an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Some may think I’m crazy, but I feel the journey of travel allows us to shift our understanding of human nature and in turn share more loving kindness with the world. So I invite you to test your boundaries while you travel; try a new mode of transportation, new food, or off the beaten path destination, anything and see if it starts to create a shift or change in your experience. I have a feeling it just might.
travel light, travel often,