Some days you just shouldn't get out of bed

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The night was so hot we had to have the windows wide open but still there was barely a breeze. The celebrations from the world cup continued on the balcony above until 3am and the mosquitoes were having their own party on our bare skin.

After about 3 hours of broken sleep, we vowed to find a better room and quickly. I had "borrowed" the internet connection from the owner's computer in the corner and managed to search all the hostel and accommodation websites. It was a big shock to learn that 80 euros was indeed the standard rate for an average room but it was a bigger shock to learn that nothing was available - everywhere I tried was booked solid. I emailed a member of the Hospitality Club as a last hope but as we had to check out of the hovel at 11am I couldn't wait for a reply.

Once again, we lugged our backpacks through the streets, dropping in at every hotel to see if they had a room. We ended up walking about 3 kms in the midday heat before we reached the VVV - a tourist booking agency who tracks down rooms for wayward travelers. Another "helpful" young man rang around several hotels with no luck and as he went further down the list of his hotels, the price increased accordingly. When he got to 110 euros for a room with a shared bathroom in the red light district, I said I might go and have a coffee and give Amsterdam some more thought.

By this time I was very tired and hot and bothered and cranky !

We retired to a "Pancake House" and ordered the house special - a pancake. Not just any pancake - this pancake was the size of a large pizza.

The BOSS noticed another hotel just down the street and wandered off to ask the question to which we expected the inevitable answer. While she was gone I sparked up the computer in the vain hope of getting a free wireless connection. It was at this point that our luck changed. The BOSS came back saying she had got us a room for 90 euros and my emails revealed a reply from the Hospitality Club member, Ilana - saying that she would be happy for us to come and stay !!!!

Ilana had just returned from London on the night bus and was going to sleep for a few hours so I emailed back saying I would ring later in the afternoon. You have got NO IDEA how relieved we were to get Ilana's email !!!

So, we still had a few hours to spend in Amsterdam but we still had our backpacks with us. We chose a museum which seemed to be within walking distance and hoping they had a cloakroom where we could leave our bags, we set out to find it. It was a LOT further than we anticipated and it was a LOT hotter than yesterday. By the time we reached it and were told we there was nowhere to leave our bags and therefore we couldn't enter, I was a LOT more tired and cranky than an hour before.

It was 2.30pm when I rang Ilana - she gave us directions for the #5 tram and said she would meet us at the station. We discovered we were on the wrong side of the city for the #5 tram so we caught a #17 back to Central Station and then a #5 south. The tram was overcrowded and hot with no air-conditioning and no windows. About 1/2 an hour into the trip I looked out the window and saw the cafe where we had eaten pancakes a million years before. Could I get any more miserable?

After 20 sweltering stops and 45 miserable minutes we fell off the tram in a sweaty pile of exhaustion to be met by Ilana's smiling face. As much as I hated the world at that moment and wanted desperately to crawl into a hole and sulk, Ilana's presence and her welcoming manor made life okay again. A short walk through a lovely park and quiet leafy suburbs to the ninth floor of a small high rise, Ilana welcomed us into her gorgeous 2 bedroom apartment, with fabulous views of Amsterdam. We spent the rest of the afternoon and long into the evening chatting like long lost friends. Ilana was inordinately proud of her country and a mine of interesting historic and cultural information. The BOSS listened with great fascination and I was satisfied that her geography and history lessons had been completed for the day. The day was still too hot to contemplate the sticky tram journey back into the city, so sight seeing was out of the question and even though we had accomplished nothing that day and it seemed like a total waste, I couldn't think of a nicer way to have spent the afternoon.

Later in the evening, the BOSS and I walked to the supermarket to get supplies. It was only about a kilometre along a very beautiful path beside the stream in the suburbs of Amstelveen. Nice way to end a horrible day.

01 The gorgeous canal at Amstelveen
The gorgeous canal at Amstelveen
02 The church in the canal
The church in the canal
03 The dog shit statue
The dog shit statue
04 The BOSSand Ilana
The BOSSand Ilana
05 Sunset from Ilana's apartment
Sunset from Ilana's apartment
06 Sun is still setting
Sun is still setting
07 Sun is still setting
Sun is still setting
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