I have arrived!

Well, I’m officially (almost) done the first day of my trip and it feels great. Getting here wasn’t the best experience, but it was worth it. Here’s what I learned:

a) Don’t rely on people to make your food quickly when you have to make a flight. While I was waiting on my $13 (!!) sandwich in the Detroit airport, I figured I was fine for time as making a sandwich couldn’t POSSIBLY take more than 5 minutes. Turns out it can. So, I was waiting for this fancy sandwich without a watch (lesson #2: wear a watch), and I heard my name. Over the airport intercom. Saying my flight was about to leave without me. Lovely. Clearly, I started running, leaving the sandwich and my money behind. Boo.

b) Don’t stress if someone is sitting in your seat on a flight. I was seat 31 G or something, which was fine with me because it was a window seat and I like having something to lean against on overnight flights. Thing is, after running through the airport and sweating to death, I finally got on the plane to find someone sitting in my seat. I’m pretty sure I growled and the guy finally said “Oh, I’m 31 A. Okay.”  He moved, and all was well in the world.

c) Old planes are scary, especially if they are small. I took a short flight from Buffalo to Detroit before making my way to Amsterdam because apparently it was cheaper. Anyway, that flight is super short, so we were on an itty bitty plane. It was also pretty old-looking, with patched up wings and such. So, I sat on the plane, then noticed smoke or steam or something clouding around my feet. Um. Thing is, the flight attendant totally saw it and didn’t say anything, and it only lasted a few seconds, so I didn’t panic. Well, I totally kept thinking the blowing air from the air conditioner was actually a hole in the plane right at my feet, but I tend to overanalyze things. The takeoff didn’t exactly ease my anxiety either. It was definitely the most turbulent flight I’ve taken and I knocked my head on the window when we were taking off due to the violent shaking. Fun times. Bonus tip: If you’re even a little anxious about flying, don’t listen to songs about death or loss or Anne Frank while you’re in the air. Just don’t.

d) If you’re Canadian, show it off. I managed to take the bus from the airport to my hostel, and I was pretty impressed with myself (shush). I got off the bus at the stop that my hostel booking said, then stood there for a bit. I was a bit rushed in the few days before I left Canada, so I didn’t manage to get a map to the hostel or directions from the bus stop. Not smart. So I started wandering around looking for the right street, which wouldn’t be a big deal under normal circumstances but I had just got off a 7 hour flight and was carrying 40 pounds on my back and about 10 pounds in my hands. I was visibly sweating, and I’m sure I looked flustered. Next thing I knew, a lady without a Dutch accent pulled her bike over and asked if I needed help. Turns out she was originally from Toronto, and she offered to bike around the area to look for the street. She did, and after a few minutes she was back with directions. I’m sure the Canadian flag hanging off my backpack had something to do with her helping me out, and that’s awesome.

e) In Amsterdam, bikes rule. There are crossing signals specifically for bikes with a picture of a bike and everything! It was kind of terrifying walking around today, trying to dodge bikers flying by at top speed. These people take their bikes seriously. Too bad I can’t ride them! Seriously. It would’ve made exploring so much faster, though walking has it’s benefits. Amsterdam is a pretty good walking city if you manage to not get hit by a bike.

f) Van Gogh used a lot of paint. I visited the Van Gogh museum and almost every one of his paintings were piled high with paint, making them almost three dimensional and shiny. The work of other artists was also there, but it was obvious which ones were Van Gogh’s because they were just so shiny and textured. I also learned a bunch of facts about him, like how he lived with Gaugin because he wanted to create an artists colony, but then they got in a fight and that’s why he cut off his ear. Now that’s passion.

All of those lessons and it’s only day 1! I’m off to Paris tomorrow and my only goal is to eat a macaron and drink red wine in front of the Eiffel Tower at night. I’ve been there twice before and it’s one of my favourite cities so I can’t wait!

I’ll be back soon, tot ziens!

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