I don’t get out much. But when I do get out, I like to go far. Like, 5,873 kilometers far. And while I’m out and about I like to learn. Here’s what I learned in Amsterdam:
It’s known as a city of cafes – but there should be a caveat that those cafes only open after 9am.
Cafes also serve alcohol.
It’s easiest to find a cafe if you’re in an area with other tourists. Otherwise, the easiest thing to find is a hair dresser.
Belgians call the city Antwerpen.
Things are more confusing in a city where you don’t understand any of the four national languages.
There’s more kosher food in the Jewish area than the internet lets on. Internet, you misled me.
The trains won’t wait for you. I don’t recommend the New York stick-an-arm-in-the-door to keep the train in the station trick. A conductor saw me rush toward an open door and told me it was too late – even though he was standing on the platform. His tone said he wasn’t kidding. I stayed on the platform and kept my limbs.
There’s always another train coming. If you miss your train, there are worse places to wait than a clean and well-lit Belgian train platform. If you’re uncomfortable because the only other person on the otherwise abandoned platform sits next to you, be glad you’re not in the nearly empty Brussels airport before 6am and being hit on and/or the potential victim of a kidnapping.
Most public areas have wifi, but it’s only accessible to people who have an account with a Belgian internet company. Sad for you, foreigners.
Trains do not have wifi.
Europe has 2-pronged circular outlets. Internet, you lied to me. Again.
It’s hard to find an adapter on short notice.
Everyone speaks English. Even the old woman who runs the discount store that doesn’t sell adapters.
Belgians usually look serous, but they love a good joke. My best line: Do you speak English? Gales of laughter, guaranteed. I didn’t get many chances to use my line, because most people started their conversations with me in English. As one museum guard explained, I look like I speak English. He didn’t care to explain.
The sidewalks are meant to be shared by bikeriders and pedestrians. People who aren’t used to sharing sidewalks occasionally find themselves walking in the bike lanes. In related news, I was a menace to Antwerp bikers.
Antwerp is incredibly polite. No one will curse you out – or even draw your attention to the fact that your decision to walk in the bike lane has forced them into oncoming vehicular traffic. Which might be less politeness than an indifference to fools. Or a lack of self preservation.