|This was the view from our bed at the Maison Rika. Notice one car, but a LOT of bikes...|
What an adventure THAT was! Belovedest and I had a wonderful time - of course we did - we were together. And we learned some things that I think are worth sharing...
- If you're connecting from a plane to a train, buy your train tickets in advance, even if you can't guarantee that you'll be on time. (and of course, you can't guarantee, because you're flying in, and planes are delayed) It's MUCH less expensive to purchase train tickets in advance, and you'll be assured of a seat. B and I had been promised by a couple of different people that it was ALWAYS easy to get train tickets from Paris to Amsterdam - au contraire, my friends!
- When buying train tickets, even if you don't know your return time for sure, buy round-trip tickets. Exchanging a ticket that's the wrong time is much less expensive than purchasing one-way tickets for each leg of the trip.
- If you're delayed in a city for more than six hours, the first thing you do is sit down and make a plan. The temptation to check your luggage and run out the door willy nilly is great, but ten minutes of thinking about what you'd really like to do can save a day of otherwise wandering aimlessly. You might also have time to make reservations for a great meal...
- When things get frenzied (i.e. you're late to your guest house and your cab driver is trying to drive you into a canal, taking the longest possible route), just take a deep breath. Focus on what matters, which in this case is reining in the cabbie, and THEN worry about your housing. Trying to multitask leads you to confusion, in which you NEITHER take care of crazy driver, nor text your guest house, and then mislay your cell phone for SEVEN days. (seriously, in a hidden pocket of B's briefcase, which I NEVER use...)
- Don't feel that you must do the "done" things in a city. B and I did not see ONE prostitute in Amsterdam. We know of them, we've seen photographs of the physical environment in which they work, and we agreed that we might find it more unpleasant than edifying, so we chose to avoid that neighborhood. I know some people will be aghast that we were in Amsterdam and chose to NOT go there, but we are happy with our choice. Your happiness is what really matters, after all.
- If you have a great meal, go back to that restaurant more than once. You're not under contract to visit different restaurants every night (unless you're a travel/food writer), and the delight on the faces of the staff when they realize that you came BACK (as well as the champagne with which they might toast your return) makes it all worth it. And you can try the other stuff on the menu that you had to miss the first time!
- Pack less. We saw MISERABLE people in the airport, on the subway, on the train, in the streets - all of them shackled to luggage. Sometimes, preposterous amounts of luggage. One couple in our Paris hotel must have been wretchedly crowded in their room...
Lots more to come - what I saw on the streets in Paris (although why didn't anybody ever tell me how handsome the men are in Amsterdam????), what I bought, our amazing room in Amsterdam etc. etc.
Nice to be home with you all,