Cycling towards the city with the morning sun finding gaps in the canopy of trees overhead made for a pleasant way to start this particular morning in August. I had a short 10 mile (16km) ride, which would take me through Amsterdam Forest and Vondelpark to a hostel that I hoped would have vacancies.
The 180-ish miles (290km) From Brussels to Amsterdam was covered a little quicker than expected, so I was ahead of the planned arrival of my friends Jamie and Ashleigh this weekend. The hostel did have space in a bed, and to my surprise it was only a few euros more a night than the campsite. Because of this I booked 5 nights so I could stay for the full weekend with my friends, It also might give those bruises on my sit bones time to properly heal… My saddle had not been kind to me.
I spent that rest of that day showering, writing and making use of the hostels free WiFi until the sun fell behind the skyline. Later that evening, Alex, my Rotterdam and Den Haag tour guide, arrived in the city to hang out for a few hours before his flight from Amsterdam Schipol. I dare say we ended up in a particular coffeeshop establishment to enjoy the local delicacies, watch a 3D movie, and eat far too many nachos. We parted ways in the early hours and I went back to the hostel for some much desired sleep.
The warm and blue skied day that followed was mostly uneventful, except maybe for losing my wallet… I had been shade bathing (as us redheads are known to do) most of the afternoon down by the water in Vondelpark. I packed away my belongings, checked that I had everything, then was on my merry way.
It wasn’t until about 20 minutes later, when the ever lingering thought of dinner entered my head, that I noticed feeling a little light. The sinking feeling in my stomach made itself known and I immediately span round and re-traced my exact footsteps to Vondelpark in a hurry. It was fruitless of course and I said a silent goodbye to €150, both of my bank cards, my health insurance card and my driving license… I will admit I was a little panicked for a while, but once I was over the initial shock I was somewhat okay. Fortunately I had not kept all my cash in one place, some was safely packed away at the hostel, and a quick phone call home guaranteed that some of my savings would be brought to me with the arrival of Jamie on Friday. I’d asked my new bank card to be delivered to the hostel and tried to forget about the whole ordeal. There are worse places to be stuck for 7-10 business days!
After hunting down the cheapest dinner I could find, I washed the day away, found my earplugs and settled in for the night.
I am glad I put those earplugs in. I was invited to breakfast with some English guys who had showed up during the night, I had not paid much attention to the awkward atmosphere in the hostel room that morning. But I later found out that this group of lads checked in at 4:00AM blind drunk and one of them emptied his stomach, quite noisily apparently, all over himself in the top bunk and all over the floor. I was told it was quite the clean up operation! Fortunately however, my earplugs saved me the ordeal.
A day later Jamie arrived with his Girlfriend Ashleigh, and with them came a cash care package from the savings I had left at home. It was their first time in Amsterdam so I was eager to show them around the city. I had been there three days, I was basically a local. Soon enough the weekend had passed and it was time for me to check out of the hostel. They were fully booked the following week and there was still no sign of my bank card. I went back to the campsite that was a 10 mile ride away for two nights, hoping that I would not need to stay longer. I’d had an awesome weekend hanging out with Jamie and Ash but I was also getting itchy feet, I wanted to see something new. They checked out of their hotel on my 7th day in Amsterdam. Their room was high-ceilinged, crisp white, with a view that overlooked Vondelpark, It was a great place to stay for a first visit.
After we said our goodbyes and parted ways, I swung by the hostel in hope that there was a letter waiting for me. A letter of freedom which would grant me financial permission to carry on with this trip. The stars must have aligned for me because it was there, in all its A5 sized glory.
I rode back to my tent with a huge smile on my face, drank a celebratory beer or three and then prepared myself to wake up early and cycle with the sunrise.
Want more? Read the next story – Next stop: Deutschland.