Across the Pond

Erik Borresen

(Erik Borresen)

It is 6 p.m. on Thursday night, and I’m waiting for my traveling mates to finish class so we can take the tube to the airport. I feel like a 7-year-old going to Disney World for the first time. I have been looking forward to this trip to Amsterdam for weeks, and now it’s just a few short hours away.
Fast-forward to 10:30 p.m. We arrive at Central Station in Amsterdam eager to party, but first must make the ten-minute trek to check into our hostel. We figure out our way to Hostelboat Anna Maria II with a little help from a few friendly strangers.
Yes, our hostel floats in a canal of the Amstel River, and is about the size of your average school bus, offering ten rooms with bunk beds. If any of you know me, you know that all 6’8″ of me is not going to fit into one of these beds.
Almost anyone would struggle with this length of bed, but I decide not to make a big deal out of this in order to continue the light-heartedness of the weekend. The joke was inevitably made that my sleeping in this bed resembles Buddy the elf – truth be told, it really does.
It is now 11:30 p.m., and we are first ready to explore the city. A five-minute walk puts us in the heart of the Red Light District. An explanation of such a mesmerizing place is difficult to put into words, it should be experienced.
To put it simply, things that are illegal in the U.S. – and most of the rest of the world – are instead legal and glorified in these few blocks of Dutch streets. I am somewhere between amazed and bewildered at the sight, but I happily spend the night exploring downtown Amsterdam.
A quick and dirty breakfast at the hostel gives us little sustenance, but we roll out to attack the city’s sights before 10 a.m. Friday morning. I’ve budgeted 100 Euros for three days in Amsterdam, and I’m determined to make it happen.
We walk the city, stopping here and there for something to eat or drink, but eventually make our way to the Heineken Experience. It’s 15 Euros, and I’m not sure I want to do it, but the group consensus is a go, so I get on board.
It turns out this is coolest tour I’ve ever been on, and I, of course, forgot my camera. 90 minutes and three pints of Heineken later I leave the museum feeling happy that I spent the 15 Euros and satisfied with the amount of beer consumed. I catch a tram and walk back to the hostel boat for a quick nap before a big night.
By Saturday afternoon I am down to 30 Euros. My traveling mates go to the ATM for another withdrawal of funds, but I am determined to make my remaining cash last me the remainder of our trip. At the time, I thought it better to spend the money on fun rather than food. Thus, I wind up eating French fries for dinner and granola bars for Sunday’s lunch, but I can say that I enjoyed Amsterdam to its fullest.
It is now Sunday at noon. We sit in the airport exhausted from a long, but fun, weekend. I’m excited to return to London, to sleep in a legitimate bed and to make up for lost time Facebook creeping. There is a certain feeling of familiar excitement that leaps inside me as our plane lands in London.
The tiredness that consumed me just a few hours ago is now gone, and I suddenly have the desire to make my way to a few pubs and walk the rainy streets of Kensington. I am happy to say that London has become a city that I know and love, and I am ready to make these last few weeks here be the best weeks.

(Erik Borresen)

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