First things first. I am now sitting on a cushy couch in the CityStay hostel in Berlin, finally catching up after the madness of Amsterdam. After yesterday’s ten hour bus journey, a massive schnitzel dinner, and a fantastic sleep, I am now clear-headed enough to let you know what’s going on. So let’s go back to Amsterdam…
Bicycles scare me. All I can envision is a twisted mass of metal, blood, and flesh. This did not bode well for Amsterdam, a city where tourists and locals alike are regularly mown down by cyclists. However, by employing the old stand-by of looking both ways before crossing the street (thanks dad) I somehow survived Amsterdam. Not only did I survive, I dug deep into my courage reserves and got on a bike myself.
I joined a Mike’s Bike Tour, guided by Stuart, with four other girls from Busabout. Before I knew what was going on, I was cruising along the canals on a shiny green bicycle. For the first fifteen minutes I rode in a constant state of panic, wondering why everyone I passed seemed to be totally relaxed and smiling. Did they not know they were in a potential death zone of two-wheeled vehicles?
He displayed no fear, unlike the rest of us. As it turns out, we weren’t in a death zone. Cycling isn’t actually as dangerous as I imagined, especially with Amsterdam’s numerous wide bike lanes. It took me a day or so, but I realized what was missing from this big city – the sounds of cars. Whenever a car passed, it caught my attention because it was actually unusual. There is definitely something to be said for relying on a bike instead of a car, particularly in a city that caters to cyclists.
We rode out to the countryside to a clog-and-cheese farm. Yes, I know that it sounds like something created by the Dutch tourist board, but it was genuine. Ate some cheese, wore some clogs, and headed back through the park to the city. Alive, exhilarated, and marginally less scared of bikes, though just as scared of cows as always. Deceptively vicious creatures, cows.
But I still look both ways before crossing the street. Can’t be too careful.