Los Angeles Hotels Blog

March 31, 2010

Memoirs: Traveling

The decision to go to Europe was a spontaneous one made after experiencing a tragedy followed immediately by a small windfall. Since I had wanted to go to Europe for over 40 years it seemed like the right thing to do.

Now where in Europe should I go? Most appealing to me was the idea of staying in one place for a while to really experience, enjoy and get to know it. Poring over travel book my eye was caught by Amsterdam. I was assured Amsterdammers would all speak English for my traveling ease. I learned the city is small which, being directionally dyslexic (another reason I preferred a one-city trip), was very appealing to me. Getting disoriented in a new city is part of the fun; getting hopelessly lost in a bad neighborhood is not. I was going to Amsterdam for two weeks.

A fact finding expedition on the Internet led me to a bed & breakfast run by an artist who advertised his place as being in the center of everything. Concerned that if I stayed at a hotel I would be totally isolated, and certain I did not want to stay in a hostel full of young adults enjoying Amsterdam, I booked a room in a B&B on Leidsestraat, which turned out to be a great choice.

To my amazement, I did not wear out my suitcase packing and re-packing until the big day arrived. Getting to LAX early was a priority and with planning I pulled it off. The flight was a pleasure, all things considered, and I arrived in Amsterdam on a balmy spring day in April.

Riding the light rail in Los Angeles made using public transportation extremely easy; within minutes of leaving Centraal Station I was on tram 5 being taken past gabled edifices of different heights, widths, and colors. I was actually on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, a street whose name up until now was simply one I had read in a book, and most assuredly could not pronounce. I was smiling like the cat that ate the canary.

My stop was at the Prinsengracht, the outermost of the three canals that make up the grachtengordel (canal girdle) that embraces central Amsterdam. As mentioned above, I had read that Amsterdam was small, but I really had no idea. I live in Los Angeles, what do I know about small? After about five stops and ten minutes I stepped off the tram to stand on the bridge over the Prinsengracht. In my head I was giggling.

Now I had to locate my home for the next two weeks. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Again, my California frame of reference was failing me because I was picturing a bed and breakfast as

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