And then I was thinking: how many times have I been to Amsterdam? And I think I've been there about 10 times, but each experience has been different, and each time I go, it really is as if I am there for the first time. The very first time I was there, I was just there overnight, on my way back to university after having taken an unplanned 2 week detour in Egypt to explore the ancient Egyptian and Grecco-influenced ruins during my cruise along the Nile. I had barely made it into the city, and was so afraid, that I walked around and wouldn't even look at or speak to anyone. The second time I was there, it was for a Model United Nations conference outside of Amsterdam, and then after spending a few days in Amsterdam with friends, I had decided that loved the city. The youth hostel in the vondel park was where we stayed. Clean and comfortable, and the experienced was enhanced by the company I was with. I remember in each of those experiences being so poor, as many college students are. I mean, rich enough to afford to go traveling, but too poor to have the lifestyle and experience I had seen of the jet set travelers in the movies. During my subsequent visits, I was working in Europe (and globally) and would weekend in Amsterdam, as I am doing this weekend. And the experiences have been incredible. From the Supper Club to the shops to the bars to the art and cultural centres, to just taking coffees at some small cafe, each experience has been a worthwhile one. So I am excited to be going back again.
During my trip here this time, I will be meet up one day with Thallow, and that should be interesting, as it will be the first person I've met up with through LJ without knowing them before. Then I need to make my appearance at the Supper Club, with the proper gear of course.
Like with my most trips post-university, I am going to stay at the Amsterdam Marriott. It's nice and central (on the Western Belt), and it's close to the Van Gogh museum, which should have some new exhibits to take in, and the stroll through the park after seing such great art is always a time of reflection.
Finally, a few thoughts on my travel experience. I took a look through my passport while waiting in the SAS Business Lounge for my flight. I look at the extra pages that had to be added to my passport in Hong Kong. And I look at the travel visas (still have a few more years for Visa free travel to Korea and Australia and Brasil), and the one day travel permits, the transit visa, and the stamps from a dozen places, and I realise that I have been blessed to have the life and experiences that I have had. And that most of it has been on company travel. And then I remembered what got my traveling in the first place: a trip to Paris and cycling through Brittagne in 1993. The adverture and the spirit of travel. Meeting new people and experiencing new things. Then I thought I can't get that in the business lounge, so I went to the gate, and struck up a conversation with someone who travels freuqently to Amsterdam and Sweden and we thought it would be good to keep in touch upon her return to Sweden. And that was what the travel experience has always been about. The joy of meeting new and interesting people! :-)
Here's to continuing to wear out the passport in varied and interesting places! And to friends yet unintroduced around the world :-)