This day did not begin with a joyful moment. Sleepless all night, we scrambled off the plane, gathered our luggage and visited the information kiosk. So far, so good, we thought. The seven-hour time difference was taking its toll. It was shortly after midnight back home, shortly after six a.m., Amsterdam time. Nothing was open. Our hotel check-in was at three p.m, and we had no place to sleep. We bought our I Amsterdam city passes for public transit and museum admissions, and made a plan to get to our hotel. We’re doing fine, we thought.
The man selling the train tickets was rather abrupt. He didn’t seem to like dealing with jet-lagged “tourists” using unfamiliar currency. His instructions about the train were terse and unhelpful. He charged us ten euros for two tickets marked three euros apiece.
We thought we were following the right signs as Tom and I lugged our two, fifty-pound suitcases, backpacks and computer cases downstairs and onto the train. We listened carefully for our stop. The conductor came along to check our tickets. We both welcomed his friendly smile. He checked our tickets, shook his head, and gently informed us we were on the wrong train. This train made no stops on its way to Amsterdam City Centre Station.
We were supposed to be on the Metro. We did not need train tickets at all. We struggled to make our weary minds follow his careful directions. We’d have to detrain downtown, descend one level, pass one level below four platforms, a fair distance with all our baggage, ascend one level to platform 14B (not 14A. Much closer) and take a train back to the airport. We lifted lugged and rolled backpacks, computers and giant suitcases all that distance. Tom carried the lion’s share. We were both staggering by the time we collapsed on the train back to the airport.
At the airport, we lugged it all inside and asked a security guard what to do now. He really wasn’t much help. His English was not up to giving directions. We returned to the ticket kiosk and asked a different person for directions. We hoped that this time we had them straight. This, too ,was not a joyful moment.
Once again, we hauled and heaved bag and baggage down an elevator onto a train platform. We dragged ourselves aboard what we hoped was the correct train and dropped onto seats.
This time a lovely young woman sitting across from me smiled. That brought joy. We talked, and she assured me we had it right. She was getting off at our stop. Hallelujah! Back on and off another elevator for the fifth time, we found the metro stop we needed. We struggled to make our city passes work on the Metro turnstiles. A friendly young man came along and helped. I mentally soaked in those two joy-filled moments hoping they would give us energy.
More elevators, more walking, more lugging of suitcases brought us out on the street. Just three long, rough blocks over a brick sidewalk and we arrived at the hotel. By this point we had started to giggle just thinking about the states of our being.
Although it was now nearly nine o’clock, it was still too early to check in. The concierge helpfully agreed to store our bags until our rooms were ready. That was definitely a joy-filled moment.
A delicious, although expensive buffet breakfast in the hotel dining room restored our energy… well, that and several cups of coffee for Tom and one Cappuccino for me. We thought we were ready to roll. I started this blog. Tom edited yesterday’s. Breakfast hour at the hotel ended, and we had to leave the restaurant. I checked with the hotel concierge about our room. It was ready, three hours ahead of schedule. Every hotel should have a concierge like the Premier Best Western Hotel Couture in Amsterdam! We wearily, but gratefully, rode one more elevator to our room and collapsed. The feel of the bed beneath me was Joy, profound Joy.
Jet lag is like that. You think you’re fine. Turn one corner and whoosh, you’re done. We set the alarm for an hour and crashed. We knew we shouldn’t sleep longer, or we’d be awake half the night and just as exhausted tomorrow. The phone alarm rang.
Still mighty tired but now enthused about seeing a little of Amsterdam, we waited at the tram stop in front of the hotel. We were sort of organized.
Today, two castaways visited the Van Gogh Art Museum and Coster Diamond Museum and Factory. Both gave us a challenging, interesting, yes, and sparkling learning experience. Of course, the Diamond Merchants also offered temptation. We did not succumb. We were too tired to buy anything.
For supper, we stopped at a small corner coffee shop, “Pompa” Mediterranean food. A bowl of soup revived me somewhat. Tom’s salad was life-giving for him. Still, all I really wanted was to return to our hotel and have a cup of tea. My plan was to be in bed by 8 or possibly 9.
Tom said, “I’m pretty sure I saw a little grocery store where you can get milk for your tea.” Two trams passed us before we found a bus shelter, and still no grocery store. By then I was done, finished, kaput. Wearily, I climbed onto the tram. “Do you know when to get off?” I asked Tom. He nodded. And he did. That was Joy, great Joy. We’re back in our room with milk from the hotel’s bar for my tea. It tastes like home. Think we’ll be in bed by ten.
Today was more challenging, yet it’s been grand, too. The best and most joyful thing of all today was the wonderful relationship Tom and I have. We like each other’s company. No matter how tired we get, we still manage to have patience. I am truly grateful.