I lamented the fact that I would have to get up at 4:30 to make my early flight to Amsterdam for the last part of my travels, but I knew in the end that getting to Amsterdam earlier would be great considering I only had a day and a half there.
My flight from Split to Zagreb was over in a blink because I slept through it, likely catching flies with my mouth hanging open. The flight from Zagreb to Amsterdam was uneventful, and I slept a ton on that one too, waking only when I was given this adorable little box with yogurt inside. I welcomed the healthy snack after all my excessive eating the week prior.
I arrived in Amsterdam completely exhausted but exhilarated and taken aback by the contrast between the place I was in that moment and the one I had left.
Mainly I’m talking about feeling safe and people being polite. As I mentioned before, I’ve been told Croatia is very safe, and I truly felt that way while I was there too. I wandered around a few nights ago, very late at night, through the small alleys of old city Split, and I passed countless men; alone, in pairs, in groups. I never once felt uncomfortable about their presence. They literally just didn’t look at me at all. And it wasn’t like they were ignoring me, it’s just, I don’t know, it seems giving someone a second look, or even a first one, isn’t a part of the culture. Late this evening in Amsterdam and I sensed a man walking behind me. I knew he was likely harmless, but it made me feel really uncomfortable anyway. I stepped aside and pretended to be checking my phone for something. I glanced up casually as he passed and sure enough, he was watching me. Not as though he had a plan, but simply, looking back at me.
This is the difference I’m speaking about with regard to how different Croatia feels.
Also, while I was in the airports today, I had two occasions where men tried to cut me in line. The first time was in Zagreb (still Croatia). I was standing in a line that wasn’t moving, looking at my phone. When I looked up, some blockhead that I’d noticed wandering around minutes before (not in line) was in line in front of me. I didn’t have the guts to tell him I thought he was rude for cutting in, but I know he’s a hopeless asshole because his haircut told me so. Don’t believe me?…
As I stood in the very long line in Amsterdam waiting to have my passport stamped, I spotted this guy sort of meandering in to my left, clearly hoping to “merge” in when the line was already established behind me. I have no patience for this unspoken rule-breaking, and I aggressively stepped up to prevent him from successfully merging. I am over men cutting me off. At least for today.
Once I settled in to my hotel, Hotel Luxer, I had a bite to eat and headed to the activity of the day – a tour of the city of Amsterdam. Once I connected with the tour guide, I learned that this tour would last 3 hours. Yikes! I was dragging as it was from my long day, and while I was dressed in as many layers as I packed, it was really cold today and rainy too (I later bought a sweater and a hat). I wasn’t sure I was going to last. Oh, and I don’t really enjoy being lectured at. It bores me.
The tour started and I was nervous because he had us standing at the national monument for about 20 minutes (which felt like 45) bending our ears about this and that. Considering the cold I really wanted to get moving, and he also must have said at least three times with great sarcasm “And we lucky tax payers get to pay for (X,Y,Z)!”
Later when he asked us to guess what the most common crime was in the country, I said “Tax evasion”. When he asked me how I guessed I thought Because you won’t stop bitching about the taxes!, but actually answered “You mentioned the taxes earlier”
In truth the tour was really great. The other participants, from England, Australia, Ohio and, funny enough, Croatia were all friendly, this tour was informative and gave a good overview of the city. We got to test out some Gouda cheese which was amazing, too.
This evening as I sat on my bed trying to recharge, I toiled over where to eat. Finally, I decided I wanted something small and simple, rather than put pressure on myself to find the Best, Most Amazing Dutch meal. So, I had a super, light Thai meal and then walked around the city a bit more, stopping to get provisions for any unexpected night-time sugar drops, and of course, a hot waffle with chocolate which I devoured like a monster before allowing myself to go back to the hotel and call it a night.