Returning to the Present

When you come to the end of a trip, I think most people are happy to be going home, even if the time spent away has been enjoyable. Once in a while, you take a journey that you just can’t wait to get back from.

Then there are travel experiences you’d love to extend, like the one I returned from last week. I think we would have happily stayed longer in Amsterdam, if we could have found an easy way to do it. Ten days just wasn’t enough.

One big factor that made this trip more memorable than most I’ve had in my lifetime was being able to stay in a neighborhood outside of the tourist core. The houseboat allowed us to shop in the local markets and grocery stores. Eat in the same little restaurants as the residents. Ride public transportation. And walk. A lot.

All of which allowed us to observe people, actually talk to them, and learn something about the community. Of course, in a relatively short stay, it’s impossible to completely understand a new culture. But you get closer by going as a traveler, as opposed to being a tourist.

Now, I have nothing against tourists. I have adopted that role many times in the past (and will again in a couple of weeks). It’s just that touring is more structured and often more about checking off boxes. Going to Amsterdam with a list of possibilities rather than a schedule allowed us to decide each day where we wanted to go, see, and do.1

One experience we didn’t get was biking around the city, which is the transportation option used by many, if not most, people in The Netherlands. We considered renting bicycles, but quickly realized that might not work out well for us or anyone else. It was challenging enough learning to avoid stumbling into the oncoming hordes of cyclists in their traffic lanes.

Anyway, I’ve just about re-acclimated to “normal” life after this trip, and also have processed the 800 or so photos from the trip. I’ll post a small selection of them, with links to many more, in the next few days.

Then we move on to other, more mundane topics, while beginning plans for another great excursion. Where to next?


At the top, one of my picture-postcard shots. Amsterdam really is a charming city, with friendly, generous people. I highly recommend visiting, as a traveler or a tourist.

1. The one exception was museums. If you want to see popular sites like the Van Gogh Museum, the Vermeer exhibit at the Rijksmuseum, and the Anne Frank house, you have to book tickets well in advance.

2 Comments Returning to the Present

  1. DOUG JOHNSON

    So glad you liked Amsterdam. As I’ve said before, I’ve been going there for 35 years and it never gets old. (I personally like staying near the Rijkesmuseum.) Did you get a chance to read Russel Shorto’s book Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City? What’s next on your travel list?

    Reply
    1. tim

      Thanks, Doug. I have not seen Shorto’s book but will check it out.

      We are off to Ireland next, next week as a matter of fact. This is a packaged tour that was rescheduled from last October, mostly due to conflicts with my wife’s schedule. Not expecting the same experience as Amsterdam but still looking forward to sampling the culture.

      Hope you are well and planning your next adventure.

      Reply

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