I stop into a bar for a beer at four in the afternoon on a Thursday in downtown Amsterdam. It’s just me, the bartender, and twenty blond haired girls in short dresses. “It’s a sorority rush. I’m pretty excited to see what happens,” he tells me.
The girls have informed the bartender at certain times that they will be singing sorority songs at top volume. They do. It’s very loud. They sing Working 9 to 5, YMCA, and Country Road. It’s all in Dutch. “Are they singing Country Road?” “Yes, but they replaced ‘road’ with the name of their sorority and changed the lyrics to include drinking and partying and other words like this.”
Almost everyone I talk to at Amsterdam Woods recommends that I go to Utrecht instead of Amsterdam. My campground friends are from there and offer me a ride on Monday morning. I take that as a fairly definite sign.
I used a bunch of Holiday Inn Points and splurged on a hotel room, then spent the first two hours marveling at non-hostel perks like no bunk-beds, plugs located everywhere, working showers, clean toilets, not making up my own bed, personal climate control, and the quiet, quiet sound of being alone.
It’s too quiet. Takes me forever to fall asleep. Apparently I’ve grown accustomed to snoring, outdoor voices in an indoor space, door slamming, bag rustling, talking in the your sleep, moaning in your sleep, and moaning in your sleep.
I stopped by one morning to see a group of Dutch friends staying in the cabin down the road from my campsite. We ate a lot of apple crumble for breakfast and then I spent the rest of day learning that the Dutch recipe is vastly different from ours.
The front desk girls told me I look just like a famous Dutch singer, but now I forgot the name.
A cafe in Antwerp, Belgium: “You can use that plug to charge your computer,” the barista tells me. “Don’t use the black one though.” “What happened?” “This guy he plugged in his Apple with a fake five euro charger and sparks shot all the way across the room. When he turned and looked at me, his face was all covered in black.”
Behind my tent at Amsterdam Woods — a giant blackberry patch or as I call it — breakfast.
Gear Report: I camped for five days. It rained for five days. the bottom of my tent is just covered in mud. I think it might smell like mildew but have become completely accustomed to it. It also stayed dry inside the entire time. I fucking love this tent.
Injury Report: Trapped during a massive thunderstorm in the summer camp style kitchen building of the campground, I looked deep into my soul and made the call that at some point in this life I would need my left hand. I then took a kitchen knife and cut off the two wristbands that were making my hand blue. It’s like I set my soul free.