I Can Finally Say I've Been to Europe
Some roundaround flying and a wild flight rescheduling later, I’ve made it to Europe for the first time ever. I can now tell people I’ve finally visited. A bit sad to leave home (saying goodbye to Bellevue below), even more anxious, but ready to get started.
Entering the Schengen Zone was notable because I went through border control in Frankfurt, not my place of destination. Frankfurt was a layover I had. Most layovers, even international ones I remember, just send the passenger from one gate to another in the airport. In Frankfurt, I went through immigration then went to another gate afterwards. Maybe this is just how the airport is designed, but I suspect it’s because once you enter any country in the Schengen Zone, you’re in the unified zone. Going then from Germany to the Netherlands is borderless, which is why I was able to go straight to baggage claim after landing in a different country.
Speaking of baggage claim, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is indeed a mess right now. Long lines to speak with agents. Baggage just laying around everywhere. I was worried about losing mine but Airtages came in handy. PRO TIP: buy some Airtags and use them when you travel. The electronic baggage board said my luggage was supposed to be on carousel 2 but I eventually found it on carousel 4. A total mess. I don’t have photos but you can picture it.
I’m living in what has been described to me as a traditional Amsterdam home. Think tall, narrow, brick home with walkway inside. The number label of the ground floor starts at 0 here, not 1. I live in a glorified attic on the 4th floor (5th floor in the US). It’s not particularly comfortable but it’ll do for a month.
Beyond that, this concludes my first week in Amsterdam so I mostly walked around aimlessly. Goal was to check out different neighborhoods and get more familiar with the city. Places around the city center are VERY touristy. Lots of people all shuffling around. This is one of the main streets heading out of the train station. Expect that kind of sidewalk congestion anywhere with large tourist activity.
Here’s some more photos of the city: