Boots on the ground

 

It was about three o’clock in the afternoon local time when they got off the plane at Schipol, Amsterdam’s International Airport. After clearing customs, Manny and Selma made their way to the train station. He bought the tickets to the Central Station and they boarded with the daily crowd of tourists, business travelers and the usual flotsam/jetsam of people arriving.

Being totally new in town, they decide to act on a tip from a fellow train passenger. Aptly named, the Meeting Point Hostel was located in close walking distance to the Central Station. It sounded like a safe and easy place to spend their first night together in Amsterdam. A good place, or so they thought, to get some rest, adjust to the time zone change and plan their next move.

“ Cross the street, go down the alley and turn right at the first corner. It’ll be on your right just down the block.”

What they actually ended up doing was learning to read the signs.

They discovered that the street to be crossed was the Prins Hendrikkade, the Nieuwbrug Steeg was an alley and the next corner put them on the Warmoes Straat. Finally, there it was and they checked in. Neither of them had ever stayed in any kind of a hostel, let alone a Youth Hostel, so the sleeping and toilet arrangements were not a welcome surprise. After a quick and quiet discussion, they agreed to tough it out for one night and leave first thing in the morning. The abrupt and very early wake up call was yet another surprise.

After a sleepless night they were out on the street again. As their plan was still evolving, Selma suggested they look for a place to go online and look for different accommodations.

Manny agreed and stopped the first person they met and asked in his clearest American English,

“ Excuse me. Can you direct us to the nearest Internet Café?”

“ Sorry Dude. I’m a tourist, too.” was the slow careful Alabama drawl.

“OK. Thanks.”

Turning to Selma, “Why don’t you ask the next one? Maybe you’ll have better luck.”

“ Excuse me. Do you speak English?”

“Ja, Of course. Every body in Amsterdam speaks English. It’s required in school. What do you want?”

“ We’re looking for an internet café. Since we’re carrying all of our stuff, the closer the better.”

“ OK. Which way did you come to get here?’

“We came down the street from an alley. I think it was called Nieuwbrug alley.”

“Well go back on that alley and go left on the Prins Hendrikkade over to the Nieuwzijds Voorburg Waal. Turn left again, go right on the Niewendijk. The internet café will be on your left. It’s not more than a ten minute walk. There’s a lounge over that way too. But if you get there you’ve gone too far. It’s called Lost in Amsterdam.

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