I’ve survived my first full week of travel abroad, despite the best efforts of some would-be couch surfing hosts. I arrived in Amsterdam last Thursday night and found the city to be fairly easy to navigate. I had to take a train, tram and bus to get to my hostel and in true American traveler form, I got lost. Luckily, my first purchase of the trip was a local sim card with pre-paid data, so I was able to map out my trip and get to my destination… eventually. Carrying my huge backpack has trained me to be damn sure I know where I’m going before I set out because any added steps are that much more frustrating with that added weight. The hostel was clean, but loud. I had one of eight beds in a female dorm and the ones who weren’t talking to each other were on the phone. Judging by the giggling and the “no, I love you more’s” said in various languages and annoying baby voices, it was clear that most of these chicks were talking to their boyfriends. And they weren’t just checking in, doing the obligatory “proof of life” calls. No. These were long, drawn out, full-on conversations about nothing. You know, the kind you had when you were a teenager. Except these idiots were all older than that. After I muttered “kill yourself” a bit too loud, I decided that I wouldn’t be staying in any more female only hostels. Foreign bitches be crazy.
My situation improved greatly when I started the couch surfing portion of my trip. I stayed with a few different guys in various parts of town and really got a good feel for the city. No matter where you are, you can hop on a bus or tram and get wherever you need to go. I made use of various social media and networking sites in my first few days, making plans to meet with locals and expats.
One connection afforded me the ability to take a day trip to Brussels (two hours by train) to have “Dinner in the sky.” You’re basically strapped into seats at a table while your feet dangle hundreds of feet in the air. Not only was the food amazing, the view was incredible! And best of all, it was free.
I still get asked if I get lonely traveling alone or if I miss having my own place and my privacy and the answer is still no. With so many amazing websites to connect people, if I want company, I can have it. If I want to be alone, I can ignore the whole world. If I want time to myself and privacy, I can bid on a cheap hotel room to give myself a break from hostels and surfing. With eight days under my belt in Amsterdam and Brussels, I’m still under budget. I haven’t even come close to spending my allotted $60 a day and I haven’t wanted for anything. To be fair, that’s mostly because I’ve been couch surfing, which is free and accepting basically every offer I get to hang out via meet-up groups like A Small World.
Up next is a few weekend beach trips since there is suppose to be a break in the rain and then next week, Copenhagen! I booked a hostel there since I won’t have much time to assess the couch surfing situation and hotels are very expensive. It was $30 a night for a bed in a 12 person mixed gender dorm. One review on hostelworld.com likened it to a refugee camp. So that’s something to look forward to.
Meanwhile, two couch surfing hosts I had plans to stay with were removed from the site for bad behavior. All that said, I haven’t felt the least bit unsafe or uncomfortable my entire time here and last week I screwed up the night bus schedule and had to walk about two miles back to my host home at 3am.