I woke up early in the morning, too early for complimentary hostel breakfast with French fries, and walked back to the metro I was becoming increasingly familiar with. I boarded the train and headed towards Paris’ central bus station. I arrived before any of the shops inside had opened, so I sat in the nearest empty seat.
Eventually, the shops opened, and I got in line. I purchased the same thing as the man in front of me, plus a bottle of water, thinking he probably had some insight into what to do. “Quatre croissants”, he said. I ordered one. I ate my croissant while texting my brother and waiting for my bus to appear. After I finished my breakfast, I walked outside to see if my bus was ready yet. Once I saw a bunch of kids and hippies culminating together infront of a bus, I knew it was time.
We boarded the bus to Amsterdam and were assigned seats. I sat next to an elderly French man that didn’t speak. I pulled out my iPad to start working on a post. We made our first brief stop at Gare de Lille Europe to change bus drivers before beginning our journey again, with slightly different passengers.
About 20 minutes later, I realized we were pulling up to a familiar place. We were back at Gare de Lille Europe. We stopped, and a young couple that had originally been sitting across the aisle from me before our first stop got back onto the bus and retook their place across from me. Again, we set out on our way.
When we got to Amsterdam, people exiting the bus seemed a bit lost. There had been an accident on the free way and a road closure so, supposedly, we had been dropped off at a different location than was printed on the ticket. Either way, it made no difference to me, as I was completely lost.
I followed a couple from New Zealand as they ordered train tickets from a kiosk, again, because they seemed like they might have some insight into what to do. I followed them to the platform and asked if they knew how to get to Zeeburg, where my hostel was located. They did not, but suggested I just find someone with phone data and ask them. I asked what I thought was a Dutch looking boy if he knew where Zeeburg was. He was French, and did not, but he did have data and was kind enough to look it up. It turned out we were both headed roughly the same way, so I, again, hitched my pony to a French wagon.*
We boarded the train, along with the New Zealand couple, but soon realized we were headed in the wrong direction. We got off at the next stop and waited for the train headed in the opposite direction. Moments later, everyone exited the train and the male New Zealander told us that everyone just threw up their arms and exitied the train. We then noticed that the signs for both trains were now empty.
The French boy and I walked downstairs and tried to make since of the Dutch transit system poster. Thankfully, we ended up asking a British man if he knew how to get to the central station. He told us he had just ordered an uber to another station because he was running late, but that we were welcome to join him. The French boy and I talked it over and, as the uber pulled up, we decided to join him and we jumped in. The British man was kind and asked us small talk questions, commenting on the how the French boy sounded more German than French when speaking English. The French boy took that as a compliment as we pulled up to the station.
As the uber pulled away and the British man darted out of the car towards the station, he raised his voice to tell us which train to take before wishing us good luck and disappearing. We walked inside and asked an attendant if the transport cards we had ordered for the train would work to get us to central station. She told us that they would not, but they would work for a bus which was headed that way and just about to leave.
We rushed outside and ran down the stairs towards the bus. As we descended on the bus, I asked the driver if this bus was headed to central. “Hi, how are you? Here, we start conversation with ‘how are you?’.”
“Oh, okay. How are you?”
“Yes, this bus is headed for central station.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
We rode the bus into central station as a couple of young French girls laughed and gossiped behind the French boy. He told me how annoying he finds it to feel like he is constantly around French people when he travels, how he feels never gets a real vacation.
We arrived at the station and parted ways. He wished me luck and gave me a hand shake.
I walked into the station and decided this was as good a place as any to eat dinner. I walked up and down the station looking for the place with the most people eventually deciding on an Asian restaurant. I asked the waitress to pick a meal for me with two stipulations:
- I wanted lemon soda and
- I wanted a vegetarian meal.
She brought me my lemon soda and a green, Thai, ramen-style curry. The broth was hot and burnt the roof of my mouth as I slurped it. With each passing moment, the flavor of the curry intensified and I enjoyed it more and more. When I had finished the meal, I asked my waitress if she knew where my hostel was, as by this time, my phone was completely dead. She said she was unfamiliar, but would look it up. She came back to me with a coworkers phone and typed in the name of my hostel. Thankfully, it was only a 35 minute walk from the station, and was basically a straight shot as long as I kept the sea to my left and the trains to my right.
I checked in and made my way up to my room, number 369. The room was so nice, I thought this would be the perfect time to shower and catch up on a little laundry. I was washing and hanging socks and underwear whilst shirtless when 5 of my roommates all walked in together, a group of late teen, British girls. We all said our hellos as I put on a shirt and continued with my laundry.
After I finished hanging my laundry, I decided to go out and get a little desert. A quick yelp search told me there was a great ice cream shop two blocks away. I invited my last two roommates, a pair of late teen, Italian boys and, after their polite refusal, made my way down the street.
When I got to the tiny ice cream shop, there was a small family sitting outside and another family ordering at the counter. I got in line and tried to guess what each of the flavors were as each of their names were written in Dutch. When my turn came I told the man behind the counter that I wanted one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of whichever flavor he thought went best with chocolate. “Banana?” He asked. “Sure,” I said, thinking, ‘Banana?! Come on!’ “Whichever you think is best.”
I tried my best to cherish this incredibly creamy ice cream, but in reality, I destroyed that ice cream cone; scooping up any dripping bits with the little wafer inserted in the top.
After I finished my cone, with my new frequent buyer card in hand, I made the short walk back to my hostel and retired for the night.
*Click here for reference story