With a Little Help from Kind Strangers

We arrived at the Grenoble train station and missed our ride to Amsterdam by a matter of minutes. Luckily, with our Eurail pass, we hopped on the next train for free. We disembarked in Paris at the Bercy station late that evening and quickly discovered there were no more trains or buses leaving for Amsterdam until the following morning. Several deep breaths later, we reserved a room at a hostel nearby and caught a cab. The cab driver was very friendly, and, in our short ride, he shared his thoughts with us on the lack of police and consequential anarchy that exists in French attitudes. After settling into the hostel, St. Christopher’s, we enjoyed burgers, beers, and shots at the restaurant bar downstairs. We later befriended our roommate, Mickey, a man from Ecuador traveling on his own throughout Europe.

As the sun rose over Paris, we found fresh croissants at a bakery in preparation for the next portion of our journey. The train station, Gare du Nord, was pure chaos, but eventually, we bought tickets and were on our way to Amsterdam. A generous Indian couple shared their warm food with us - naan bread with cheese and veggies. I finished reading The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin just as we arrived at our destination.

In need of a push into the afternoon and orientation in this new city, we found some coffee and wifi. We then wandered around the city to our heart’s content. Filled to the brim with bikes, tulips, dollhouse-styled buildings, and wonderfully kind people, the city was a sight for sore eyes after our disjointed travels there. I loved the city more than expected. With flowers in the windows and canals running throughout, the energy felt classically fairytale-like and simple. While meandering around, we stumbled upon the Cheese Museum, where we sampled little bites that melted in our mouths.

These small nibbles reminded us how much we needed a substantial meal. We ate a huge English breakfast for dinner and proceeded to our Airbnb in Haarlem. The neighbors helped us find our way, and we entered into the cozy house. Later, were welcomed by the owner of the home, Philip, who worked locally in the yacht-building business.

Under the clouds and fog of the new day, we traveled further west into Amsterdam and found an outdoor market. We savored warm ham and cheese croissants with hot chocolate. With full stomachs and wide eyes, we ventured to the “I Amsterdam” sign and Van Gogh museum. The artwork was beautiful, and it was amazing to see Van Gogh’s work while in his home country, the Netherlands.

After returning to our Airbnb, grocery shopping, and eating a home-cooked meal, Philip invited us out for beers. I rode on the back of Kendall’s bike and was enchanted by the bar, which was in a renovated church. We were incredibly grateful for Philip’s kindness in sharing a local spot with us and Kendall’s coordination as we biked home tipsy. Our last full day comprised of buying souvenirs and biking in Vondelpark. In such bliss, we left Amsterdam early the following morning with every intention of returning again someday.