Amsterdam, The Netherlands: I am closing the decade by doing something I never thought I had the guts to do: travelling by myself. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Once upon a time not long ago, a friend and I arranged to meet in Amsterdam, a place where I’ve only spent a couple of hours 5 years ago. We booked the flights, paid for the hostel and soon we were counting down the days to our reunion. But this fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending: one day I received a message from said friend explaining that they never wanted to talk to me again, and then I was blocked.
My first time flying solo is just a one hour flight to Amsterdam, and I handle it with minimal anxiety and confusion. I am proud. I end up walking around the arrival halls of Schiphol – there are many – before I drop into a seat and start on my Kindle copy of Into The Wild. I’m only 31 % in when it’s time to go greet Aga at Arrival 2, which they suddenly switch to 3, but thanks to the free Wi-Fi, I realize she’s at one of the gates at the other end of the airport, running around like a lost puppy looking for me. We celebrate seeing each others faces again by eating Burger King, and then proceed to fail at finding the right platform to get to Central Station.
Anyhow, I’m sure you can all imagine how much time we can spend running back and forth with confused faces. We finally get to the heart of Amsterdam, or rather the tit. That’s right, we go to Red Light District. In between almost getting run over by bikes while we look at our map (see picture below), and snapping those awkward-ly candid tourist photos of each other (see picture below), we walk into a few coffee shops to get a space muffin. We end up going to one called High Times or whatever, and we share a tiny muffin that tastes surprisingly like not-basil.
Such bad bitches
We walk for a long time to the Rijksmusem, where the famous “I AMsterdam” sign is (it is NOT by the train station anymore, ignorants), and we meet up with Molly, an American who’s also going to Stoketoberfest. First, we took some akward pictures by the sign.
Gosh, kill us now…cause we’re so attractive in these, it’s really not fair to the other people in the pictures.
We all bond over beer at a nearby cafe that has “Bitter Balls” on the menu – we bond over that too. From there, we walk back to the Central Station and show Molly the Red Light District on the way. Amsterdam is a very pretty city, but at night it seems that it really comes to life. We enjoy sex shops with window displays that has dildos the size of my arm, the heavy scent of cannabis hitting us momentarily, and the atmosphere seeping out through the entrance of all the cozy bars. That was Amsterdam, and we’re on a train to Duivendrecht to catch our Stoke bus to Munich.
If I have to give one complaint, and you know I do, since this is my blog, I would point out that the sparse information I recieved before going to Munich was that I would be picked up in Amsterdam, and end up in Munich ten hours later. Instead, we are in a small city that I’ve never heard of outside of Amsterdam, and suddenly our guides, Chris, Ned and Chris show up, and they know just as little as I do. They too believe that the busride will take ten hours. It was 12+. This is important to the story of how we almost miss our flights home a few days later, but I will get to that once all the fun stuff are out of the way.
The busride is equal parts fun and annoying – one moment we are all drinking beers and getting to know each other, the next moment most of us are flying on a magic carpet to Sleepsville, but a few guys behind us are super unimpressed with us all and proceed to get wasted and loudly exclaim how much we suck. Please, we already know that, but we also know that we will be grateful in the morning, when we arrive and are NOT hungover.
As always, I am right. We arrive at Campingplatz Obermenzing where Stoketoberfest is held, and after a long check-in, which is saved by the staff shoving free beer in our faces – and in my case, also down my throat with the help of a funnel – we shower, get dressed and are on our way to the actual Oktoberfest. It is me, Aga, Molly and Hollie, our roommate from last year at The Pink Palace, all looking cute in our dirndls if I may say so – and yes I may, because this is my blog.
From left to right: my partner in crime, me with a chest that cannot be contained, Hollie who gets to be the middle of a cuddlepie, and Cole, another great Pink Palace pal. Hottest reunion evaaah.
With Molly. At this point we are all pretty much under the influence of sangria and beer. Damn you Stoke! (not really)
We go to the Löwenbräu beer tent (tent is a very misleading word, since it’s basically a giant house), and miracuously find a spot that fits us all towards the backdoor. We sit with some American ladies in their 30s, and right next to a table full of young Swiss guys. We order beer and food (duck and pork knuckle), and as the Americans get more drunk, they start trying to hook me up with the Swiss guys. For some reason I am not very interested in anything but taking pictures of myself eating food, and dancing on tables, but by then I am fairly intoxicated, and that’s a perfectly good excuse.
I am not sure how long we stay at Löwenbräu, but we end up leaving Molly with the Swiss’ and try one of the “fun houses”. It is challenging to our balance, and we end up falling all over the place, giggling uncontrollably. We drunkenly eat pretzels and apfelstrudel on the street, and at some point after that, we go back to Stoketoberfest and pass out in our tents.
At 8 in the morning, there is an unbelievably loud party going on at Stoketoberfest, so we get up and grab some breakfast. It is an egg and bacon roll which is delicious with our free sangria, and we spot Hollie in the kitchen tent, masterfully cutting up baguettes for all us lucky campers to eat. A guy in a very nice pastel dirdnl is sitting by the stage, doing the Stoke radio show, which promises to play Bryan Adams all day long. In reality, he introduces every song as “Bryan Adams’ Summer of 69”, and then proceed to play anything but Bryan Adams or Summer of 69. He promises to “be right back after this Bryan Adams song with important topics like ISIS”, and “talking about finger-banging, anal-banging and banging-banging”. Needless to say, the Stoke humor is exactly my kind of humor.
While we wait for Hollie to get off work, Aga, Molly and I try some rides at Oktoberfest, a stranger grab my tit and makes a honking noise, and then we meet up with Hollie and go to a tent. We manage for find a way to skip the line at Hofbräu, but end up at another one. When we finally realize it’s a dead end, Hollie and Aga come back from the bathroom, visibly emotionally scarred from watching a girl squatting and peeing on the floor while waiting in line. Good on her. We end up finding one seat at a table with some elderly Italian guys, and Hollie finds a dude she was talking to on the train, so she tries to get him to order beer for us, while I try to do the same at the table – and that is the story of how we ended up double fisting beer steins. Many people, the Italians especially, seem impressed by these four girls drinking two liters at once, and it distracts them long enough for us to steal some of their pretzel every now and then. We play a few drinking games, watch some guys get kicked out (that happens A LOT), and wave off an African guy who wants to buy us dinner and go clubbing with us, as he is “a PIMP”. I assumed that was a warning sign.
While waiting for our train, some young guys (about 18) approaches us, and I guess Molly and I take a piss by putting on a very fake Southern accent and saying “Jesus” and “my babydaddy” a lot. Hollie keeps asking me to shut up, so I think I was being very offensive, which is a thing I compare to breathing: I do it all the time, without noticing. We thought we were hilarious.
We go back to Stoketoberfest just in time to grab free dinner – schnitzel with potato salad. SO MUCH YUM. Hollie did an amazing job cutting potatoes, and Cole was frying schnitzels like a champ. I am so full after dinner that I can’t even drink anything after that, so Hollie is formally invited to our tent and brings extra sleeping bags, and we all have a spoontrain (for warmth, of course) while watching Bad Neighbours (and by watching, I mean we all pass out within minutes). Aga gets sick in the middle of the night, and opens the front of the tent just in time to throw up on our “door step”, and Hollie goes back to her own, much warmer tent soon after that. After all the heartbreak, we get up, have the same breakfast that is less yummy because Hollie haven’t cut the baguettes, and then we just hang out until Hollie gets on a bus to Barcelona. Saying goodbye always suck.
As I sit with the girls by the camping reception, just hanging out, an old guy joins our table. He is in his mid-forties, very drunk and very Danish. So of course I pretend to be American and 17, but he will not stop hitting on me and ask for kisses in english that’s so bad, it’s almost just danish. We finally make a run for it and go sightseeing for the day.
We go with Molly and Liz, another American we met on the bus from Amsterdam, to the central station of Munich and do our own walking tour until we reach Oktoberfest.
It’s the most crowded it had been all weekend. We go up the ferris wheel and can barely see the ground from all the people walking on it. We hang out on a patch of grass, where we have the pleasure of watching an Asian couple that look like drinking is a first for them. While the girl is on her side, spewing, sobbing and almost passing out, her boyfriend doesn’t seem to know that true love means holding a lady’s hair. The paramedics show up to help out, which is when she tris the most tragic/hilarious escape ever. She runs a couple of meters before falling down, only the way drunk people and toddlers do.
I have my very last beer while killing time before getting on our bus back to Amsterdam, and Aga and I have our worries. Our flights are a few hours after our scheduled arrival in Amsterdam, but we were so behind the schedule last time, that we might very well miss our flights. We let the guides and the driver know, but it’s not gonna help much. A girl realizes her passport is missing, so of course we are half an hour late before even leaving the camp. There’s a car accident on the highway in the morning, which stops the traffic for a while. There are so many things that slow us down, so when the driver stops to switch with another driver, we voice our concern once again. We are very lucky, as our driver, Martin, decides to take us straight to the airport in his car, while the new driver finishes the bus route. We make it, and in good time. Thank you so much, Martin from Bakker Travel!
While Aga and I are not ready to say goodbye, we are more than ready for a shower and an actual bed. We have breakfast and try our first Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, because all we wanna be when we grow up are basic bitches. My verdict: good, but overrated. We wacthed The Other Woman for a while, and then I followed Aga to her gate and said goodbye. I went to my gate, read my book, boarded the plane, and then got super nauseous in the air thanks to Starbucks and the delicious cookie the flight attendant gave me.
Thanks Oktoberfest and dirndl- or lederhosen-wearing people, you were awesome!