first. lessons. amsterdam

Fresh off the plane, we received a crash course in traveling overseas.


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Jet lag is real.  Get over it.  I could always sleep at home.  We left USA 2pm on Sunday.  After a ten hour flight arrived in Amsterdam at 8:30am Monday. We missed a night of sleep and I toured Amsterdam on adrenalin and a make-up touch-up. Scott was there for work, so we wanted to enjoy as much free time as possible together.



We walked everywhere, because I can’t take pics while riding a bike. Since I don’t even walk to the mailbox to get our mail each day, I thought this would be a challenge.  Not.  Adrenalin is good stuff. I was constantly stopping to take a picture of a bicycle, a window display, a pallet in the garbage, and everything that captured my attention.  I was constantly running to catch up like a little kid walking with a long-legged Daddy. Nothing screams tourist more than a camera around your neck, so I carried mine in my hand.  Pretty sure I fooled everyone.

Water Closet Waitress

3.  PAY  to PEE

Europeans don’t urinate, if lack of public restrooms indicates anything. If you do find a free bathroom, there isn’t a chart saying “This bathroom is monitored every 15 minutes.  Please let an employee know if this bathroom isn’t up to your standard”  because  it isn’t and they don’t care. Museums had great bathrooms, so as long as I was sight-seeing and not shopping, I was fine.


This is a bad picture because I was embarrassing myself by taking a picture of the WC attendant, that’s European for bathroom, ya’ know, water closet, and I didn’t want her to think I was a lame American blogger with nothing to write about, so I shot this pic after I paid a handfull of euro coins for using her poddy and was ducking out of the restaurant.





I’m pretty sure they don’ offer free refills because they don’t want you to use their bathroom.  Plus, their drinks will be the smallest, teeniest things you ever saw in your life.This was a regular sized glass next to the smallest Pepsi bottle I’ve seen.


I never paid so much for such a small cup of coffee! I heard a gentleman from England  mocking Americans for having all you can drink coffee at our restaurants.  Well, I figure, we’re still celebrating the Boston Tea Party and all the doings afterwards.  Remember, there’s a reason we threw that tea into the harbor!  But, after seeing the tiny drinks, it kinda’ makes ya’ cringe at the American super-size, because people who drink super-sized drinks are super-sized people.


Morning Coffee at the Sheraton

Hotels don’t have coffee pots in every room, can you imagine?!?!  We were on one of the floors that had the free coffee station, so I was able to drink all the coffee I wanted.  They probably put all the Americans on that floor, and laugh at how much coffee we drink and how many times we flush the WC, after we figured out how to flush it, that is.

Speaking of coffee, not all coffee shops are coffee shops.  Another reason to drink coffee from the hotel. A Christian homeschooling mommy who has been in her own home drinking her own coffee for the past 25 years, it was a bit of a culture shock for me. I was a little afraid I’d accidentally end up in the wrong coffee shop and eat the wrong kind of cookie, so avoided both.   I mean, what if another blogger was lurking around with a camera in hand?


People also don’t carry water bottles around everywhere they go.  I started leaving mine behind each day, not to fit in, because I knew it would be dangerous.





Especially if the pedestrian was run over by a flying Dutchman.  Bicycles have the right of way, and no Spandex needed. We adored seeing business professionals riding to work or parents balancing children. But, don’t let their business or paternal persona fool you, they will run you over if you step into their lane.




Their mint tea is amazing. I was stunned.  This is so much better than those nasty dried hundred year old leaves in a paper packet with a string. Makes me wanna’ grow my own, and I mean mint, ya’ know. I wasn’t sure how to drink it, so I  covertly spied on everyone in the restaurant to see if they leave the leaves in.  Leaves are left for better breath.





Green doesn’t mean recycle in Amsterdam. I didn’t see recycle bins. I saw a lot of signs with leaves.  Now granted, I covered only a small radius of the area, but Washington is freaky about recycling and yard waste/compost.  I felt so guilty throwing plastic in the garbage can.




No matter how much American Express commercials brag, they aren’t accepted everywhere.   In fact, we repeatedly heard how the European credit cards were far superior and more secure because of The Chip.  Our credit cards were rarely accepted, we just daily exchanged for the euros we needed.



People don’t mind lines.  At any store there could be five customers lined up and nobody cared. Nobody huffed and puffed and blew the manager down.  At our Safeway, if three people are in line, the phone line is buzzing and a back-up cashier is rushed to the front so we don’t have to wait.  We learned it isn’t  painful to wait up to five minutes for service.





Lays Potato Chip company is holding out on us in America.  Check out these flavors! Click to enlarge the picture, just please don’t drool on my computer.


People smoke everywhere, all the time and all kinds of things. I spent the whole week coughing and trying every kind of cough syrup and cough medicine I could find. Marijuana is legal, so I grew accustomed to smelling it while walking, while shopping, while viewing 400 year old buildings and monuments.  I stared at what the previous generations had left behind and wondered what the current generation would have for a legacy.  I also spent the whole week cracking myself up, because when I smelled pot I asked myself the same question, “If Clinton came to Amsterdam, would he inhale?”  See, makes ya’ laugh, doesn’t it?



People must be taller.  At 5’2’, I couldn’t see through the peephole in my hotel room without a chair.  Also,  my feet didn’t touch the ground in many chairs and I couldn’t reach the top shelves in stores.  Wait, it’s like that for me in American, except for the peephole, so never mind.


Watching the People Watchers



They sit in outdoor restaurants for hours, facing the street, staring like cats.   I think they might be breathing in more often than necessary, taking in some of the free weed. Restaurant staff doesn’t care how long you sit at a table.  Of course, they won’t be by often to see how you’re doing, and they certainly won’t be by to refill your glass, unless you ask several times, but you are welcome to relax and sit fer a spell. A type AA person,  I kept wondering why nobody had anything to do.


Your job as a tourist is to give them something worth watching. Walk around yawning, do the potty dance ‘cuz you’ve been holding it a long time, stop suddenly and crouch down to take a pic so the pedestrian behind you flips over you, get nearly run over by a bicycle many times, shriek in stores about chip flavors, and lick your dehydrated lips constantly.

Just. don’t. inhale.


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14 Responses to first. lessons. amsterdam

  1. momstheword October 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Mindy, I love all your posts, although I don’t comment as often as I should. You have such a fun way of writing. My hubby is dying to go to Europe. I told him he could go without me because I was not sitting in a plane that long, lol! Hope you’re having fun!

    • Momma Mindy October 31, 2012 at 12:37 am #

      You GOTTA’ go! We dreaded the ten hour flight but it went very quickly. They actually had good movies, I had downloaded books to read on my computer, I wrote. I had ten hours of UNINTERRUPTED time.

      I actually am dreaming about traveling more with moms who are afraid to break out of their comfort zones. Wouldn’t that be a blast?

  2. bunkodeb October 31, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    I am having a hoot being your armchair companion!

    • Momma Mindy October 31, 2012 at 1:00 am #

      Thanks for joining me. I’m enjoying having you along on vacation with me!

  3. Andi October 31, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    I am loving “visiting” Amsterdam with you!

    • Momma Mindy October 31, 2012 at 3:33 am #

      Thanks. Wondering if a bunch of us should go together next time….we could crack each other up and blog about each other. Plus, you could take care of my cough cuz you’re a nurse and stuff..

  4. Deborah October 31, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    See, I don’t need to go to Europe anymore. I can just live it all through you. :o)

    • Momma Mindy November 12, 2012 at 5:00 am #

      Hey, don’t cross it off your list just cuz of me! 🙂 I missed a few things while I was over there…still a LOT to see!

  5. Jackie October 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    And you talk about me having adventures! I feel the same way Deborah does. Your are totally crackin’ me up. I had such great pictures in my mind as I was reading this.

  6. Elise November 1, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    Yeah. : ) You would be a ridiculously fun travel companion!!

    Love this!

  7. Yvonne November 2, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    I loved this story! It is all kind of backwards for me! 🙂
    Recycling in Sweden is not to leave your stuff outside the house, you have to go to a station (probably out of sight for tourists) with all different bins for white glass, colored glass, metals,plastic,magazines and paper and sort it all by yourself. The cans and bottles you recycle at the store. I am pretty sure there is a similar system in the rest of Europe.
    Thank you for sharing your trip! I had a good time reading it.

    • Momma Mindy November 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

      Thanks for explaining the recycle! Usually Europe is ahead of us, so I was surprised to not have recycle bins everywhere. For our trash service, I have one bin just for recycle, and I don’t have to sort it at all, just make sure it’s clean. I throw in plastic, paper, glass, etc. and have a HUGE amount each week and only a small amount of garbage.

      I always appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment or an encouraging “like.” It means a lot to me!


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