Sometimes I like being reminded that traveling alone isn’t all that bad. I’m sitting in the smoking room of the Flying Pig Uptown hostel and these three American guys have spent the last fifteen minutes bickering about their plans. I don’t have that problem. Well, I suppose I do, but arguing with myself is entirely different. My brother told me once that he strongly dislikes traveling with other people because he hates dealing with their bullshit and indecisiveness. Personally, I think it’s a matter of finding the right type of human being. One that compliments your own travel style and habits. There are a lot of people I would never ever choose as an accomplice, to be perfectly honest. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are so many moments when I desperately wish I wasn’t by myself. Like I mentioned in my previous entry, it’s that extra push from an outside force that gets you to do things you might not do when on your own.
Over the weekend I had to stay in another hostel on the other side of the city. I had to take a tram to get there, too. Which of course was the most harrowing experience (ha). I’m such a stubborn wuss at times. It’s laughable. Anyway, this castle of a hostel was in the middle of a more ethnic neighborhood. It felt even more European than being in the city center. It also forced me to explore other parts of Amsterdam I never would have seen otherwise. And by explore, I mean got hopelessly lost and was finally forced to use my map. But in the end it resulted in me feeling far more comfortable than I’ve been since I got here. That’s always the worst. Those creeping epiphanies that sneak up on you right before you leave a place. Right before you start imagining how easy it would be to find an apartment and get a job and build a new home. I could see myself living here. Really, I could see myself living anywhere. It’s simply a matter of perspective.
Yesterday it rained forever. The relentless drizzle a constant companion. I eventually found my way to The Hermitage Museum where the Van Gogh exhibit has relocated to while they do renovations in the original building. The line was quite long, but I wasn’t about to back out just because I had to wait. I’ve had a lifetime of experience with waiting. I used to feel like I was always waiting. Some people aren’t very adept at patience. It’s an important skill to learn, obviously. The exterior of the museum wasn’t anything special, but the interior was rather lovely. A perfect union of old and new. I admit that my expectations were sort of astronomical because the entry fee was 17.50 Euro. I can tell you with absolute confidence that it’s not worth the expense. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by The Art Institute of Chicago or by the plethora of other art exhibits I’ve seen all over the world. But even with the Impressionist gallery it was a bit of a disappointment. Whoever curated it though did a very nice job, the space itself was fantastic. My favorite part was the entry to the Impressionist wing. They’d blown up a painting, huge. I mean enormous. Bigger than wall-size. I stood there in awe and dreamed of diving inside the kaleidoscope of light and color for a solid half hour (not exaggerating, seriously). Overall I can’t really complain about the experience because I walked away with several new story ideas buzzing around in my brain.
The rest of the day I wandered around in the wet, the shroud of gray wrapped around Amsterdam contrasting with the bright, bubbly pop music blasting from my headphones. Life is always more bearable with music.
Today, Sunday, is my last day here. It’s still raining. I’m not sure I really want to go out and do anything though. The idea of bumming around the hostel bar all afternoon, writing and drinking coffee, sounds far more appealing. I’ve hardly written at all this week and it’s awful. Though the break was needed, I think. I have months and months of writing ahead of me. Stopping to take a few moments to marinate won’t kill me. Tomorrow morning I rise with the sun and take the final steps toward the next stage in my life. Tomorrow I say farewell to Autumn in Central Europe and traverse the ocean to greet the sun and the jungle and the annoying as hell howler monkeys down in Costa Rica. Tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new adventure. Here’s hoping I don’t fuck it up.