Prostitution, sex shops and legal drugs may be what Amsterdam is most notorious for, but I can assure you that the Venice of the North has much more to offer than the opportunity to indulgence in things that are taboo elsewhere.Read more ...
I got a call from crew scheduling to work the trip from New York to Amsterdam on my reserve days in July and was immediately overcome with excitement. I had not visited the city since 2003 and, although I had always hoped to return to the Netherlands after visiting with my aunt, uncle and cousins at age thirteen, I often looked elsewhere when planning trips due to the fact that I had already been once before.
But there is something to be said about returning to a place after many years and rediscovering its beauty as if for the first time. After all how, at age thirteen, was I really able to remember and appreciate one of northern Europe’s great capitals?
Turns out I didn't really remember much about the city at all.
|Tangle of Bicycles, Downtown Amsterdam|
I arrived in Amsterdam at around 11:00am—exhausted—after having worked the long flight across the Atlantic. Since I knew very well that going straight out into the city would result in me being barely able to function by evening-time, I decided to take a nap for a few hours at the hotel before venturing into the city.
But despite my fatigue, I could not sleep. The sun that poured through my window was too enticing for me to neglect it and, since I’d heard that sunny days in Amsterdam could be hard to come by, I wasn’t about to waste a perfect 75 degrees.
After about an hour of tossing and turning and trying to rest despite my excitement, I set off on foot to explore the city.
I was hoping to get around Amsterdam by bicycle and had heard that the crew hotel had free bikes for flight attendants to use, but every time I checked in with the hotel desk, there were no bicycles left. It appeared that everyone else had had my same idea.
So, instead, I decided to explore the city on foot, without a map. For my first time back in Amsterdam in eleven years, I wanted to reorient myself by getting lost amongst the city's streets and canals. Amsterdam is a beautiful city to explore--full of flowers, bikes and picturesque views. Like Venice, Amsterdam is a city built on water. Its numerous canals run like arteries through the city’s core and create a network of passageways that weave below bridges and between narrow buildings.
It is impossible for one to get to know a city in merely 24 hours and, while I was able to absorb the city’s atmosphere and take in its pretty views, I left without doing most of what I had originally planned.
Luckily, I would return to Amsterdam the next month on another last-minute call from crew scheduling. This time, I made sure I got my hands on a bicycle and set off into the countryside with my fabulous Boston-based crew after a much-needed three hour nap.
As with my previous visit to the Netherlands, the balmy weather made for a perfect day of exploration into the neighboring villages.
We rode out past emerald pastures, across cow-speckled farmlands and through picturesque one-street towns to the village of Durgerdam.
Seeing such greenery and wide open spaces was a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of New York City. After my crew decided to turn back toward Amsterdam, I felt the urge to keep riding into the countryside and disappear into the surrounding villages for a few days. I tried not to think about having to get up early the next morning for the long flight back to Boston.
Perhaps it is the abundant greenery, the casual atmosphere, the notoriously overcast skies or the general affinity toward reaching one’s destination on two wheels rather than four, but I felt more at home in Amsterdam than I have felt in most other European cities. The progressive vibe, mixed with the beautiful architecture, made it feel like the perfect blend between Oregon and Italy.
Amsterdam is a place that I could return to time and time again. Which is a good thing--because as long as I am working for the airlines, I have a feeling that crew scheduling will call me back.