Amsterdam, round one. Paris, round two.

I spent five days in Amsterdam and Paris with my friends. To make this easier, i’m just going to name their names: Trevor, Josh, Lauren, Kristen, and Sarah. The trip’s a bit of a haze, so we’ll see if i can get this down proper.

Wednesday morning i meet Sarah, Trevor, Kristen, and Lauren at the tram stop to walk to the bus stop to make it to the airport. Trevor and Kristen realised they hadn’t money for the bus, so they stop and get some. Trevor catches back up with us, but Kristen’s lost because she’s always lost. We don’t worry and head on. Ten minutes later we call Kristen and she’s at a different stop with Josh waiting for a bus that would end up not coming. The rest of us end up making a three block sprint to catch the bus to the airport and make it on time. Kristen and Josh arrive, but would’ve missed the plane had the plane not been delayed half an hour.

Flight goes as usual. It’s only about an hour and me and Sarah catch a few minutes of sleep here and there. We arrive in Amsterdam to confusion about how to get to city center, a confusion about direction that would stay with us for the rest of our time in Amsterdam. We ask for help, which was easy because everyone in the Netherlands speaks English. We find the train and take it to the train station in city center.

From there we decide to walk to the hostel rather than take a tram because, well, it didn’t seem very far. Now, these streets, they’re ridiculous. Four modes of transportation travel on them: bikes, people, cars, and trams. The ridiculous part is that there’s often times no differentiation between sidewalk, bike lane, road, and tramtrack. Cars drive on the tramtrack, the sidewalk, and the actual street. Bikes, well, those are any and everywhere. Not as many walkers as you’d expect to see on the streets, probably because of the confusion about where to walk. So, we’re walking to the hostel led by Sarah and Kristen, something that would continue the rest of the time in Amsterdam. They led, we followed, Sarah always led us the right way, Kristen was always so sure about where the right way was, but was always invariably wrong. Anyway, to compound the confusion of where to walk, every street looks exactly the same. Trevor and i thought we were walking in circles because we were certain we passed the same canal at least twenty times.

Well, we make it to the hostel and check in with the disgruntled hostel manager who yells at Kristen about something i’m not paying attention to. We drop our stuff off in the room and set off to eat and wander about.

Right next to the hostel’s a pizza place that we eat at and where we plan, or try to plan, our night.

We head out in hopes of finding the Red Light district. Kristen keeps trying to lead us ‘her way’, which is the wrong way. I tell everyone to trust in Sarah and continue telling everyone that for the rest of the trip because she knows things. The confusion of the roads multiplies now that it’s night, but Sarah knows things and she leads us the right way, though we get lost a few times.

The Red Light district is literally just sex shops, sex shows, and whores everywhere. We wander up and down the street and me and Trevor can’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of everything. I end up eating a banana for the first time in my life there and Trevor gets a penis drawn in an imaginative way upon his chest.

The next day, we go on a free walking tour where we get some of the history of Amsterdam and are shown some important historical sites, as well as famous coffeehouses.

The rest of the day continues in ridiculousness and we’re always lost, wandering around, but i trust in Sarah and tell the others to, too. It’s all i could ever think to say and so i said it a lot. She was my teammate for the trip, anyway, so it made sense.

After that we went to the sex museum, which the girls loved, but was mostly either really gross, really weird, or really old pornography. After that, we went to this famous condom shop that has all sorts of novelty condoms. The girls buy some, because, really, that’s the only way it can go. If a guy buys one and pulls that out to a girl, it’s creepy, but if a girl does it, it’s funny or, well, maybe even hot. After that we went to a sex shop,  me and Trevor and we can’t stop laughing about everything. Josh is so uncomfortable he doesn’t speak.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that this whole day was full of confusion. We kept getting lost and confused about everywhere we went. We had already stopped at a KFC and a McDonald’s because, for some reason, every time we decided to go somewhere, we stopped to eat first. Also, the rest of this day is more of a haze than anything else.

After the sex shop, we realised the Van Gogh museum and Heineken brewery were going to close too soon for it to be worth it to go. We keep wandering about and stopping at fast food restaurants because we’re retarded and nothing makes sense anymore. Conversations are all blending together and in and out and the streets are still ridiculous and we never know where we’re going, but i trust in Sarah, because she at least has a map, which is more than the rest of us have. Somewhere along the line we go to an internet cafe because Lauren needs to print out her train ticket for tomorrow,  and then we return to the hostel, but stop at another McDonalds, which is probably the fifth of the day. We then go to the Girl Talk concert, which apparently doesn’t start till midnight and it’s about eight. We go to a Burger King and hang out for a couple hours, but Lauren can’t handle the confusion anymore, so we return to the hostel where she falls asleep and we kill the rest of the time till the concert.

Still, nothing makes sense and we’re all ridiculous. Sarah’s bed is across from mine and she starts copying every movement i make and because i can’t figure out how to beat her i stay still and try to outlast her. Kristen tries to figure out what the game is but she keeps talking and i can’t handle how loud she talks so i tell her she’ll never get it and it doesn’t concern her and to be quiet so the game can continue. I win and Sarah lies down, but we can’t fall asleep or we’ll never leave so i keep her awake by asking questions like, ‘would you rather be a space cadet or an underwater scientist’. Her answers were always awesome and very detailed.

We go to Girl Talk, but get lost on the way because we’re always lost. We finally make it and find out it never starts, or doesn’t start till forever from now.

We leave early because we’re crashing hard and make it back to the hostel where we left Lauren sleeping and she doesn’t wake up.

The next morning we’re meant to leave by train. Sarah, Lauren, and I are on the noon train and the rest are on the two pm train. Sarah and Kristen decide to be productive and see the Van Gogh museum. The rest of us walk tot he station where we get lost again, but find our way and unload the insanity of the last day and a half. Me and Trevor felt like we had never even been there and wouldn’t be able to find a single place if we tried besides probably a McDonalds. Something’s wrong with Sarah’s ticket when they arrive and she can’t get on our train and she cries because she has to spend 120 euros on a new train ticket. The train ride to Paris goes smoothly for me and Lauren and the rest of them make it successfully on the next train.

To me, this is Amsterdam. We were lost for about forty hours, and missed every touristy thing to do. We were typical amerikans. We got lost, ate at amerikan fast food places, and bumbled about the city, dazed in a haze and confused. It’s like i was never there and i can barely remember most of it. People come to Amsterdam to do drugs, but the city’s its own drug. Even when we were sober, we were still confused and lost and unable to think properly or make plans. It’s a ridiculous place that i’ll probably never return to, but i’m glad i went once.

This is a rather, well, edited for television version of the trip. If you’d like to hear more about Amsterdam, send me a message in some form, and i can e-mail the raw version to you. Or you can just wait till i see you next in real life to explain what happened.

Lauren and i arrive in Paris and have two hours to wait for the others because Sarah has all the hostel information. I want to walk around and check out where we are in Paris, but Lauren’s still a bit friggle fraggled from Amsterdam and doesn’t want to do anything. So, we wait.

They arrive and Sarah has to talk to the people about getting money back for her original ticket, which takes a while. After that, we wander out into Paris and head to the hostel.

I guess this is as good a time as any to mention this, but only Lauren and Kristen had never been to Paris before, so the rest of us had already seen a lot of the big stuff like the Louvre [though you really can’t spend enough time in there], Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, and things of that nature. I also went on a tour of the city and things like that, so i wasn’t in a rush to see all of the city, just to have a good time and enjoy the greatest city on earth once more.

After checking in at the hostel with the cutest old French woman i’ve ever seen who spoke not even one word of english, we headed out to a restaurant that Sarah really wanted to go to.

We go there and it’s amazing and reasonably priced. We order steaks and two bottles of wine. The steak was glorious and we all chatted and had a great time drinking and eating. The steaks gone, we order two more bottles of wine and keep the merriment going.

We leave because the restaurant’s closing up and head to a bar nearby where there’s not much room, but we get a table and keep ordering wine. Me and Sarah end up being a bit separated from the group because of the seating arrangement, but have a good time anyway talking about life and god, and, for some reason, Lord of the Rings.

We head back to the hostel around one in order to make it before the metro closes and so we can get enough sleep for the next day. Me and Trevor have what he called ‘pillow talk’ though neither of us remembered what we talked about in the morning.

Speaking of morning, we’re woken by Sarah pounding on our door to tell us we have half an hour to get ready. Josh takes a shower and me and Trevor sleep for twenty more minutes and then are out the door before the girls because, well, me and Trevor are dirty and girls need to get ready.

Our plan for the day is to head to Versailles. We’d been there before, but i’d not been to the garden and it’s a pretty awesome place worth revisiting. We bought some supplies for a picnic in the gardens and Trevor and i bought two bottles of wine to drink. We ran into a bit of trouble finding the right train from the metro, but we get there. Sarah speaks a bit of French and i love talking to the French. Though, i only know how to ask if they speak english and how to say, ‘i would like…’. But they’re always very helpful if they can speak english. Anyway, we manage our way there and arrive at Versailles. Versailles, if you need me to tell you, is a glorious place. Empires seem like a bad thing until you’re blown away by the glory and magnificence of it all.

We head to the gardens, which are brilliant to see and so epically expansive. We find a seat in the grass next to the water and eat our food and me and Trevor drink our wine. It was only two euros, but it was better than the wine i usually drink in Dublin. Significantly better, truth be told. We drink and watch the ducks and eat and chat and just enjoy the sun and the glory of an empire overthrown by a riotous bloodthirsty mob and the folly of kings and their queens.

We head out from Versailles after a few hours of taking it all in. We don’t go inside because it’s expensive, most of us have been in there before, and the tour’s very short and restrictive and not worth it. We take the metro to Notre Dame, which is also a magnificent place. Josh, Lauren, and Kristen check out the inside because they’ve not been there before. The last time i was there, mass was going on and it was a very beautiful moment; i do so love churches and the grandness of ceremonies. Sarah, Trevor, and i—we started calling ourselves A-team at this point and the others B-squad—head to the ruins of a Roman forum beneath Notre Dame. Only two euros, and not really worth it, but, whatever.

We get together again and head to the Seine to have a nice walk along the river.

Now, most of that is all visual and it’s really difficult for me to describe what it all looks like and how magnificent the walk along the Seine is. But we just walked and took it all in, the grandiloquence of the city, my favorite city in the world.

We stop for dinner at an Italian restaurant, which was awesome and very filling. Then, we continue along the Seine for a while longer, then take the metro to the Eiffel Tower, because B-squad really wanted to see it. I didn’t much care for the Eiffel Tour [thought i’d spell it the French way one time and see how i like it] the last time i was there, really just a big metal structure that’s super tall. We left after they’d taken enough photos to be satisfied and returned to the hostel to prepare for the night.

We buy wine and hang out in our rooms for a while. We drink and drink and drink and hang out and drink some more. We’ve plans to go out eventually, but we get a bit caught up and Kristen gets too tired and Trevor gets too lazy/drunk and Lauren changed into bedtime clothes already. Sarah wants to go out, and i’m drunk enough to do anything, and Josh decides to come too. We try to find a nightclub, but give up and end up returning shortly after. Trevor’s still awake and we have another pillow talk session that neither of us remember again, but we’re pretty sure it lasted a long time.

Our last day in Paris, i’m awoken by Sarah pounding on my door again. I open up and she tells me i’ve fifteen minutes to get ready. I brush my teeth and head out the door, so dirty at this point, it’s impossible to care. Me, Sarah, and Kristen leave to go to the catacombs and the others go to a modern art museum. We stop at a bakery that had the cutest, most adorable French women behind the counter. I loved it, just listening to them say, Bonjour madame!, in that perfect way they say it.

The catacombs are intense and enormous. The bones of six million Parisians are arranged like walls for kilometers. There are two rows of skulls lining the wall with bones stacked in between. Hard to explain, i guess. It’s both incredibly creepy and faintly glorious. The arrangement seemed sick and bizarre, but i kind of dug it in a morbidly curious way. Anyway, the catacombs stretch for, i believe, over three kilometers, hold six million bodies, and is twenty meters below the city.

We exit and head to Notre Dame again to kill some time, and i’m so glad we did. We were going to climb up to the bell, but decided against it when we saw the line. Back in front of the cathedral, there are riot police surrounding a group of people. We walk by and then people dash to the entrances of Notre Dame, lie on the ground, and start chanting/yelling, ‘Benoit 16, Assassin!’, which is pretty intense. The police quickly surround the protesters again and keep the crowd at bay. I get all of this on video on Sarah’s camera and we pick up a few pamphlets that are left on the ground. Apparently the protest is over Benedict the 16th’s refusing to send contraceptives to Africa for aid. They also held huge photos of the pope with the chant written on it in bold letters. They also had another women on these photos with words that translate in english to, ‘If you listen to what i have to say, you will get AIDS.’ I forget what the French was, but we translated it. Now, things start to get real interesting as the Catholics in the crowd begin protesting the protest by singing hymnals loudly to drown out the original protesters. I mean, the protest was completely peaceful and nonviolent, but it was incredibly intense and you could feel things boiling there. There were a few arrests and i’m not sure how long it lasted. It was one of the coolest things i’ve seen happen.

There’s a video, but i can’t seem to link it in here. Oh well, just trust it was awesome.

We leave and walk along the Seine to the Louvre where we had planned to meet the others. The whole way we talk about religion and god and mythology and the like.

We meet the others at the Louvre, which is just incredible. Like i said, we didn’t go in, though, just marveled in the grandness of the building itself. We walk from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe along the Champs-Elysees, which is a fantastic walk. It takes a while, but you’ll see amazing things along the way. Along the way we get sandwiches at a cafe, which were great. The Arc de Triomphe, too, is incredible to look at. But, yeah, another thing that’s probably a bit boring to read about, but more than worth it if you ever end up going.

We head back to the hostel and finally pay for our rooms [not sure why we didn’t immediately], and find out how to get to the airport, which is ninety minutes outside of Paris. Me, Sarah, Trevor, and Kristen then head out to Montmartre, the artists’ district, a great place, very bohemian and awesome.

We arrive and head up to the Basilica de Sacre Cœur, which has a truly breathtaking view of Paris. On the steps, there’s a guy playing covers and he was fantastic. Man, really, he played some great songs and played them well. Everything from Pink Floyd to Le Bamba. It was loads of fun, but we walk on past to other areas. I’d already been all over Montmartre, so i didn’t need to see all the famous places that the artists lived and ate at, and i wouldn’t have been able to find them anyway. We walked about for a while and saw all the artists painting in the square and ate crepes and ice cream. We walk our way to the Moulin Rouge and buy wine along the way. I try to find the cafe that Amelie takes place at, but can’t because my memory’s never been good and i was on a tour the last time i was there. We look at the Moulin Rouge and then drink wine nearby. After that, we head to a restaurant and eat some more wonderful food. I got another steak and a glass of wine, Sarah got a dessert crepe with ice cream, and Kristen, i don’t remember, chicken maybe. Trevor didn’t eat. After dinner, me and Trevor got kebabs because i can never refuse a kebab. Me and Trevor each buy another bottle of wine because they’re so cheap.

We make our way back to the hostel and hang out in our room. Lauren and Josh had stayed behind and we find them watching French television and laughing about it drinking wine. We recap our days and drink and look at each other’s videos and photos. Me and Trevor get pretty drunk for the third night in a row and he falls asleep. The rest of us stay up a while longer, but get to bed relatively early as we’re supposed to leave at 530am.

Me and Josh stay up a bit more and talk about boxing for some reason i don’t understand.

We wake up again to Sarah pounding on our door and telling us the shuttle van is picking us up in fifteen minutes. We get ready, which, again, takes us but minutes and walk down to the shuttle. I barely remember anything about the shuttle and was probably only awake for a couple of minutes, drifting in and out of consciousness.

We get to the airport where Josh, Lauren, Kristen, and Sarah have a flight to Italy an hour before mine and Trevor’s flight back to Dublin. We bid them farewell and wait for our time to check in. You see, the airport we were at was super small and you can’t just check in when you get there.

Anyway, we go to check in and there’s something wrong with my ticket, so i go to the service thing or whatever. She informs me that my flight didn’t confirm and i need to buy a new ticket for the plane which increased in price from thirty euros to nearly three hundred. I’ve n choice, so i agree. My credit and debit card get declined and i make her try it again because there’s no reason either of them should’ve been declined. It doesn’t work so i call my bank and they tell me my cards were put on hold because of allegedly suspicious activity on them. Well, that suspicious activity was me planning future trips and this trip, which consisted of me spending a couple hundred dollars in a two day period. So, i’m figuring this out over the phone, a very expensive call, and my phone runs out of credit. I’ve no money on me either, so i’m now homeless, penniless, ticketless, and phoneless in nowhere France. I go to a payphone and call the bank again using Trevor’s money. Another really expensive call later, everything’s figured out, but our check in closes in twenty minutes. I head over and buy another ticket, a way too expensive ticket. Then get rushed through check in. Finally, i’m through security just in time for boarding.

It was only nine am at this point and i had already spent three hundred euros and all the hectic confusion and travel trouble woke me up. Really, it was far too much activity so early in the morning.

Me and Trevor board the plane, find seats next to one another because ryanair flights don’t have assigned seating and unload our brains onto one another the whole hour and a half in the air.

Back now in Dublin after a very awesome and interesting time. Really, one of the best weeks in my life. And Paris, well, it’s my favorite place on earth. It’s difficult to explain why i love it so much, but it’s the most perfect place on earth. From the sheer beauty of every square inch of the city, to the people, to the way the land there makes me feel. The French get a bad reputation, i’ve never met a mean French person; they always treat me kindly. I love the language, the air, the water, and the sky. When i’m there, i just, i don’t know, i feel everything in the most perfect of ways. I smile and can’t stop, just loving the wind brush against my face.

I might return there again before heading back to amerika and i might return there after i graduate and just not leave.

All photos curtesy of Sarah Burton because i forgot my camera.


2 Responses to “Amsterdam, round one. Paris, round two.”

  1. 1 ijhanson
    April 10, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Yo Eddy,

    That was quite the bomb diggity entry, if I do say so myself. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of it. You packed a lot into that trip – props. Did you miss a bunch of class while you were travelling around? It sounds like you’ve turned into a real gourmand, which is fine by me. Shame that you forgot your camera for the trip, that’s kind of like what I did when I went down to the end of the world in Patagonia – I didn’t charge up my batteries so they died out pretty quick like. I’m going to write about my times that I spent down there real soon, probably tomorrow.

    I’ll keep reading and commenting on everything that you put up, buddy.

    By the way, this theme rocks, especially those little borders that are around the pictures make it look real classy like.

    Ciao amigo,

  2. 2 cooleddy
    April 15, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I didn’t miss any class as we had basically the whole month of March off.
    Yeah, really dig this theme. Everything looks sharp and professional.
    Too, i’ll be hitting your site later this week. Interested to hear about Patagonia.

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