We interrupt Autism Awareness Month (OMG I AM AWARE, GOSH) to bring you a breaking news bulletin: I am a bad feminist. Somewhere in the last seven years, I’ve grown very, very comfortable with letting my husband take the lead when we travel. He’s Map Guy; He Who Reads Directions. I am the Keeper-Aliver-of-the-Spawn–I make sure everyone’s blood sugar is stable and naps are administered in due course. Normally this works out okay, but this last weekend I went to Amsterdam with an old friend…who is also, at least in this specific area, a bad feminist.
Amsterdam…the weekend of 4/20…with no sense of direction. What could go wrong?
It started out auspiciously enough; our flights were too early to take the bus and our car service upgraded us to a Mercedes sedan for free. I for one appreciated having heated seats and a toasty bottom. The problem was that my friend and I were booked on different carriers, and her carrier canceled her flight without sending her any notification at all. Let that sink in a moment. So in order to make sure she actually made it to Amsterdam at all, there was much running back and forth between our carriers (which were at diametric opposite ends of the airport). We got on the plane pretty tired.
Luckily, it was only an hour to Amsterdam…but then…Schiphol. Have you ever been to Schiphol? It is BONKERS. You’ve never seen so many people carrying tiny bottles of liquids in your whole life. We got turned around because we were talking, didn’t have enough change for the train ticket machines, and THEN had several moments of panic because we couldn’t get the ticket machines to accept “Centraal Station” as a destination.
For the record, it’s in the computer as “Amsterdam Centraal.” And now you know.
Once we got off the train, there were two directions we could go in order to get to our boat hostel: the correct way and the incorrect way. We managed to go the incorrect way. Finally, covered in drizzle, we managed to get our stuff to the boat and back out the door to the trams so we could go to a museum and do all the touristy stuff we had planned.
It took three different maps, a tram, and a few hours on rented bikes but we finally figured out the city–no thanks to Lonely Planet. In the past I’ve had nothing but wonderful things to say about their books but their Amsterdam app and the 2012 updated Amsterdam guidebook were full of erroneous addresses, useless maps, and the app was difficult to search. Seriously. It wasn’t only that we were incompetent. You’d think a city laid out on a canal grid would be easy to navigate, but the three maps we had made it really difficult to get a coherent plan together.
In the end, we did not die, nor are we still lost and wandering Schiphol trying to leave the Netherlands (although with all the security checks I had to pass, I sincerely doubt they’d let us stay). At some point I shall tell you about the interesting things we saw and my new campaign to get Tom to buy a family three-seater bicycle, but for now I am going to start studying Google Maps for our upcoming cruise. I’d like to be the one who tells us “Oh, I totally know where we’re going” this time.