I have come to learn that things rarely ever go to plan. No matter how much you plan ahead, some things just never go to plan.
This weekend, my roommate and I went to Amsterdam and Frankfurt over the weekend, and in visiting these places, we went to two different countries in three days.
We planned this trip out a month in advance. The initial plan was to fly into Frankfurt on Friday afternoon and catch a train to Amsterdam later than night. It was a four-hour direct train ride and for the most part, it was a pleasant journey. We arrived in Amsterdam Central on time and we decided to explore the nightlife and get a general idea of the city before checking into our hotel room.Getting to the hotel room was not so bad, but trying to figure out the transportation system with Google Maps was a nightmare. Once we finally made it to our hotel room, it was lights out.
Amsterdam: A Day of Endless Wandering
My “thing” is that I like to plan things out, but I still like to do spontaneous things. In this case, we had not planned anything.
I made it to Amsterdam, now what?
So, that morning, we woke up, not really knowing what we were going to do. So what does one do without a plan? Wander. Our first stop was Dam Square. There were so many people who were singing and there were so many small crowds surrounding them. We were so excited to be in Amsterdam that we did not realize how hungry we were, so decided on crepes for breakfast. Safe to say, it was probably the best crepe I ever had.
Afterwards, we wandered away from the center and made it to the famous canals. Also, there were bikes everywhere. I think I saw more bikes than people. While we were walking, we heard a tour guide say, and I quote, “ when crossing the street, look left, then right, then left again, then right again, then up, then down, then look into the 4th and 5th dimension, then attempt to cross the street and still get hit by a bicyclist.” He wasn’t wrong. I got hit by a bike at some point that day.
We kept walking, not knowing where we’d end up. As we were walking, my friend and I saw a piercing place and we made a joke about what if we got a piercing right now. Rather, I thought it was a joke, but my friend ended up going through with it! I guess the theme of this trip was to be spontaneity.
We ended up at the Van Gogh Museum and decided to go in. It was quite honestly boring and I did not understand the hype around the endless lines. The only part I enjoyed was the ‘Van Gogh and Dreams’ exhibition because it was interactive. At that point, I swore off museums.
However, my pledge didn’t last very long because we went inside a tulip museum– also boring and I only walked around for 10 minutes before leaving. It might not sound like we did much, but most of our time was spent wandering and walking.
I was starting to get hungry and I did not really want to try any Dutch herring. There was a shawarma shop on our way and last minute we decided to go in. The owner spoke Arabic and it was so comforting to me. Like a little piece of home that I didn’t know I needed in that moment. The wraps were amazing and part of me wants to go back to Amsterdam just for the wraps.
Biking and Walking
Now, back to the bike thing. A person cannot go to Amsterdam and not ride a bike along the canals. This was next on the list. I haven’t ridden a bike in years and I was nervous about hitting someone. But I did it and it was my favorite part of the trip.
With no sense of direction, we walked some more. That day we walked over 12 miles, but it didn’t feel like it. For the most part, we stayed close to the city center and just enjoyed our time together. There was no goal for the day, which is why it was so enjoyable. Before we left the center, we got Mannekenpis fries. The only reason we did was because the line was endless and we wanted to see what the hype was about. They were mediocre at best.
The transportation back to the hotel was smooth and we slept the minute we arrived.
Okay, so our train to Germany left at 7:50 AM and the plan was to take public transportation to the center but Google maps does NOT work when you need it to.
We woke up and 6 A.M.. and it would only take us forty-minutes to make to the center, but Google Maps gave us bus times for a bus that does not run on the weekends. So we had to take an Uber. The next thing was to make sure we got on the right train because the journey back to Germany required us to change four times so it was important that we paid attention to the stops.
That part was stressful; we only had minutes to transfer between trains and we were hauling the whole time. The last train was two-hours from Frankfurt and it stopped in the middle of the tracks. It was stopped for twenty-minutes and the conductor was giving us updates in German. I don’t understand what was going on and I asked a German man to translate.
The train was an hour away from Frankfurt and there was an accident on the tracks. My friend and I looked at each other, kind of worried. We were in a foreign country and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere. The conductor said we had to go back to Cologne and find an alternative way to Frankfurt. So that is what we ended up doing. We followed the group and somehow made it to Frankfurt.and we were four-hours behind schedule and we were kind of upset.
We took the subway to the center and checked in to our hotel and dropped our things and explored the city.
Frankfurt: A Hidden Gem
Everything was in walking distance from us. We went up the Main Tower, which was fifty-five floors high. The view was amazing and we saw the whole city. On our way to Romerberg, we ate at a sushi place. I kind of missed sushi and the sushi in Athens is not the best.
We got ice cream there and found a lock bridge. It wasn’t Paris’ lock bridge but it was the next best thing. My friend and I found a small convenient and bought locks to put on the bridge. I’ll admit it was kind of touristy but it had to be done. Another thing is that Frankfurt is not very touristy, which is always a plus for me.
At that point of the day, we were exhausted and wanted to sleep but we wanted to see more of the city. As a goodbye, we went to a Turkish restaurant and gyros. One of the workers we Iraqi. I don’t know why but no matter where I go, there is a piece of home. Granted, I don’t know the people, but just the fact they’re Arab or Muslim or Iraqi is a comforting idea.
Our plane back to Athens was at 6 A.M. and that was goodbye. I have to say that this was my favorite trip despite the train delays. This trip was planned so far in advance but the actual days weren’t and that was the best way to travel.