From Rotterdam we hitchhiked to Amsterdam. It’s so interesting to get a window into the life of whomever picks you up. The guy who took us to Amsterdam was my age and married to his high school sweetheart. She called while we were in the car but he didn’t mention us.
“I’ll tell her when I get home after she sees everything is fine. Plus then you guys wouldn’t have to hear her yell at me.”
People think hitchhiking is unsafe- for both sides. While there are horror stories, we only ever had drastic success and met the most kindhearted people. This guy dropped us off and said, “Want some rice cakes?” And we acquired rice cakes and the tupperware that he had them in (we used that container for the majority of the trip after that, until we lost it).
We still had a while to walk to the city center. I love my first impression of the city. I didn’t know that there were so many canals there! It was beautiful. But our packs were heavy and we didn’t know where we were going. Asking around, and miles of walking later, we arrived at a campground. We were supposed to have a tent but they let us in anyway and we found some trees to string up the hammock overlooking the water.
Everywhere we had camped so far was pretty quiet. Us and mostly old folks in their campers and cyclists on long distance journeys. But high season was now upon us, it was the weekend, and this was apparently a hot campspot. It reminded me of festivals- tents everywhere, young people, beer, and music. At first I missed the peace that came with just having quiet people in their RVs as camping neighbors, but we ended up staying there two nights and it was a good experience. We spent most of our time wandering around the city, and nobody messed with our bags when we left them in the hammock.
The city was packed! Everywhere we went was a sight to behold. Walking around was immensely enjoyed. We did the things you’re supposed to do in Amsterdam- visit a coffee shop, and the I Amsterdam letters… but mostly, as usual, we explored- and had a great time. Public drinking is allowed in most places in Europe so we opened our free bottle of wine from that bar in Antwerp and sat beside the river, eating cookies and chocolate. I’ll never forget it. I know that when people talk about having “the time of their lives” and look back at the old days with joy in their eyes and a chuckle in their voice… these are the moments they’re talking about.