Arriving into Amsterdam compared to China was a complete breeze; so breezy that the lackadaisical stature of the immigration officer was a tad unnerving. He only asked me two questions, "What is your purpose?" and "How long will you be staying?". That was it. No, "Where are you staying?" or Who is your contact?".
After my easy peasy immigration experience, I caught a train to Eindhoven for 20€ (one way...) and enjoyed a 70 minute train ride to Holland's southern province, Noord Brabant, home to many farms and some industry (i.e. ASML). Evan picked me up at the train station where we proceeded to act like we hadn't seen each other in a year.... I'm sure we've already offended the Dutch! 😝
Evan and I made our way back to the apartment (we only got lost once!!), which is a very modern building located next to the soccer stadium! The walk from the apartment to the downtown area or as they call it, "centrum" is only 10 minutes. There are like 5 different lanes though! There are four lanes for cars, bike lanes, and sidewalks! The biking lanes have their own signs and traffic lights...it's unreal! I plan on renting a bike tomorrow. VVV (the Dutch version of AAA) is located next to the train station where you can rent bikes for 10€ a day but you must give them a 50€ deposit...and it was very unclear if they give that 50€ back...must remember to ask tomorrow! Anyway, back to yesterday!
The apartment is quite modern, yet very white with strange abstract art thrown here and there. The deck is quite lovely and has a view of the surrounding town with a bell-ringing church nearby. The grocery store experience was pretty ok, nothing too weird, but I wasn't looking close enough and Evan was hungry. We ended up buying some pork, garlic, TP, milk and butter (25€).
Today, I found my way back to the city center (and I didn't get lost!) and puttered around like a true tourist. My main goal was to figure out the bike situation (see above) but when I was told I had to return my bike at 5:30 and it was already 12, I figured I would return tomorrow so I could get my 10€'s worth...possibly 60€ if they don't return deposits! After talking with the nice VVV lady, I decided to mosey around and I'm glad I did. Although I really didn't know where I was going, I just made notes of my turns along the way and headed toward buildings that looked interesting.
After walking around for a bit, hunger struck me so I started to look for a place to have a quick bite at a low cost (this seems hard to do). I ended up going into a greeting card store to buy a pen and notebook (the two things I didn't pack!) and saw a very large bookstore with a cafe. In China, the one place I never felt alone or homesick was in a bookstore. Maybe because books smell the same, therefore hitting those olfactory senses. This particular bookstore was three floors of amazing. The downstairs had a great language, travel and children's section. It also had the cafe where I had my lunch! There were some sandwiches and panini's but the waffle caught my eye. And it was delicious and worth the calories. I paired my waffle with a latte, cozied up on a couch and began to write away.
Around 3:00, I decided to head back to the apartment to plan my bike routes for tomorrow. I guess you should always have a route in mind. I hope I don't get lost!
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