I was surprised flying in at how much water there was in Amsterdam. A lot of the "streets" closer to the coast were water, and people had boats lined up outside where we would have cars in front of our houses!
It took us awhile to get off the plane since we were all the way to the back. The airport was pretty nice (and free wifi)! We decided to just head straight for immigration to get it over with. Aaaand there was NO line! I mean not one person! And no forms to fill out! Apparently you don't have to deal with any of that crap over here. The guy just asked my why I was there, looked at my passport, and told me to have a nice day! (Most everyone here seems to speak English.)
We both had to pee SO bad, and decided to freshen up in he bathrooms. Clean, nice, spacious and empty bathrooms! I washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on some makeup... Felt like a new woman!
We couldn't quite make the 10:50am departing train to get us to Bremen (we weren't really planning on it anyways) so we had about two hours to kill. We went through customs - ZERO line and no one even looked at us - and walked around the airport for awhile. Matt bought a plug-in adaptor, and we found a cute little place to grab some food.
Yogurt with strawberries, and a "ham in the bone" panini. Ha, I don't think they got the translation quite right on that one! We paid one euro extra for farm cheese on it, and it was delicious! The yogurt, however, was so bitter! I couldn't even eat it!
With time to kill still, we decided to hop on the train down to central station. We found the platforms down an escalator right there at the airport, and the next train arrived about 10 seconds after we got there.
Amsterdam's central station is just like any other big city train station. Packed, lots of commotion, etc. We followed signs to an information booth and had to wait in a line just for a number to be helped. We knew what train we wanted on (I made a pretty detailed itinerary before we left), but that was from the airport, not central station, so we figured we better talk to someone and get it all figured out.
It didn't take long at all for our number to be called. The lady giving out numbers knew the train we wanted was leaving soon so she must of hooked us up, because there were a lot of people there waiting ahead of us.
When we got up to the counter, I showed the lady what train we wanted...and that train only left from the airport. Dang it! She found another train for us, to Hilversum, leaving in TEN MINUTES, that would then connect us with our original train we wanted from Osnabruck to Bremen (thankfully she printed it all out for us). Disaster averted, but coming to central station to be able to see more of Amsterdam was kind of a waste. Instead of having an hour to walk around downtown, we went directly back to the platforms and waited a couple of minutes for our train.
Oh, and a lot of the credit card machines here only take these certain cards that have some sort of chip in them. I guess Americans haven't figured that technology out yet. So when we were semi-franticly trying to pay for our last minute train, Matt had to go wait in a long line to take cash out of an ATM. I hope that isn't a recurring theme this trip...
The trains here are so nice! I guess I haven't been on a whole lot of trains, but these are by far the nicest I've seen. Clean and comfy. And it's basically like an honor system over here if you actually bought a ticket or not! No one checked ours on the way to central station, or on the one to Hilversum! I wonder how many people just risk it and don't even buy a ticket?! (I guess there's a fine if you get caught without one.)
In Hilversum, we had a few minutes to transfer trains, so we grabbed a water and went to find the bathroom, or WC (water closet). We found it, but the door wouldn't open, and I couldn't read the signs. They were all in Dutch. Then I saw the coin slot. You have to PAY to use the bathroom here! I should of just squatted outside, but Matt forked over the 0.50 Euros to go in. I put it in, but the door still wouldn't open. There was a guy already in there, so when we walked out, I grabbed the door before it shut and went in...and Matt came with me. No sense in paying twice, right?!
Holy cow did it smell bad. And there was pee all over! I don't even know how you could possibly miss the toilet that bad! Needless to say, we made it quick and got right out of there... (And then we found out our train had bathrooms on it - that didn't smell - for free.)
Our train for Osabruck, Germany, arrived a few minutes later. This was the long one. Over two hours of Netherlands / German countryside. Lots of corn fields, cows, and wind turbines. Just like home!
Poor Matt, still exhausted from no sleep on the plane, conked out pretty fast. I did, too, actually. And while I was out, apparently a guy came buy and finally checked to see if we had an actual ticket!
At our first train stop after crossing in to Germany, there was a crew change on the train, so they announced we would be stopped for 10 minutes. I got up to stretch and walk around, and Matt went out to get us some more water. He came back with this:
SPARKLING water. Yuck. I hate the carbonized stuff, and so does he. He took a big swig of it before he knew what it was, and was NOT pleased, haha.
At our very next stop, we were overrun with kids. High school, probably. But they just kept coming and coming. And they were so loud!! The train started moving again, and they were all just standing there trying to find seats. And some of them had assigned seats I guess. We watched them kick some American guy out of his seat across the aisle from us, and were just hoping we weren't next. By this point, there weren't any open seats left on our train. Just when we thought we were in the clear, we got booted, too. Ugh. With only 10 minutes left, we thought about just standing, but that didn't last long with all our luggage. We drug all our stuff to the next car and found some seats together.
Got to Osnabruck on time, only to find our next platform and that our train was delayed 15 minutes. Not a big deal. We hung out around the trains, and finally (kind of) figured out the maps and cars, etc. Before we were just blindly getting on and sitting wherever.
There were a bunch of kids all together waiting for the same train, so we moved on down a car away from them. The last bunch was enough for us. When the train arrived, we could barely even get on it. No seats. Bleh. We figured we would just have to stand (I eventually sat on the floor in the aisle) until people go off at the next stop. Except that "next stop" wasn't for 50 minutes, and it was our stop in Bremen. We stood/sat in the aisle that whole train ride. Not cool.
A lady came by and randomly spot checked people for tickets. She put a little hole punch in ours. A guy next to us - waiting in line for the bathroom - didn't have his on him and the lady checking didn't even care. She just walked on!
A little later, a woman came by selling drinks and snacks. I wanted a water, but not another 'sparkling' one. So I grabbed the bottle off the front of her cart, gave it a couple good shakes to see which it was, and when it fizzled, put it back. The lady said, in her accented English, "Now THAT was a bad idea." I didn't even get what she meant, but she said she had flat water, too, so we bought that. Before she left she said, "And please don't shake the water bottles again. If I were to open that, it would be a surprise!" and did a blowing up in the face thing with her hands. Ha! It was hilarious. Well, to Matt and I. Not so much to her. Makes sense though. It's basically the equivalent of shaking up a can of pop and handing it off for someone else open. Woops! ;)
Our train finally got in to Bremen around 5:30, just a little later than planned. We managed to find the taxi stand...but not before I got sucked in to a shop in central station that had amazing scarves. I almost walked out of there with three, but only let myself get one - a turquoise infinity one. (It was a VERY quick stop/decision.) I love it!
|(This purple one caught my eye, but I ended up with turquose at the last second...)|
|Outside Bremen's central station|
I could of shopped (and ate) for awhile in there, but we had a wedding reception to get to! Our taxi driver - who drove a freaking Mercedes! - spoke pretty good English and told us our hotel was about 20 minutes away.
Pulled up to Farhause Farge, right on the water. A river, I assume. It's a nice place!
Clean, small room...with TWO twin beds. We both stopped when we saw that.
Matt: We're totally sleeping in one bed, right?
Me: Oh, heck yea we are!
Ha, we will be sleeping in one twin size bed tonight. Pretty sure we'll be fine though. I usually sleep on top of him anyways... :)
I hopped through the shower, and for a European shower, it actually felt amazing. All was well, until I tried to plug in my phone to charge...and it didn't work. Then my hair dryer didn't work (I may have blown a fuse with it...). I tried to use the one they had, and first of all, you have to hold a button down the whole time to get it to work. How weird is that?! My thumb was dying! Then about half way through it started smelling like it was burning up and it just quit working, too. I was NOT happy by this point. On top of being ridiculously hungry and tired, my hair was a disaster and my phone was almost dead. Thank goodness I have the most amazing boyfriend ever who literally did everything in his power to make me happy. I so do not deserve him, and I don't even know how he puts up with me!
We went down to the front desk on our way out to have them call a cab for us, and to complain about our outlets not working. The poor guy behind the desk didn't have very good English, and basically just said there wasn't anything he could do, and he had no idea why our outlets weren't working. Ummm, well that's just not going to cut it. No maintenance guy, so we have to deal with it tonight and he said he would move us to a nice "water view" room on the other side tomorrow. Fine. Cab was there and we had to go. (But the guy was so worthless. Just kept standing there and shaking his head / shrugging his shoulders. So frustrating.)
Cab driver knew where we wanted to go when we showed him the address. We hopped in his sweet black Mercedes (yea, nice cab, hub?) and drove about 20 feet out of the parking lot and stopped at a red light. And he turned his engine off. We were waiting for the ferry to come to drive us across the water! It took about 10 minutes for it to come, and we just drove right on the ferry! Pretty cool.
Once we were on the other side of the water, we were flying down a little windy country road, in a Mercedes, in Germany, listening to Carly Rae Jepson and Rihanna. It was one of those surreal moments. ;)
Another 20 minute drive from the other side, and we reached the brides parents house in a little German neighborhood. I can't even describe it. It's just what you would think of when you think of a little German neighborhood, haha.
We knocked on the door - hoping we had the right address - and Corinna, the bride let us in. No wedding dress, she had changed in to a traditional German maids dress, called a dirndl. She walked us out to a big tent out back (with heaters, it's cold here) and there were like 20 people sitting at three tables, and food all along one side. And we WEREN'T late for dinner! We got there at 8, and they had said dinner would be at 7:30. SO glad we didn't walk in late.
Anyways, we sat down at the "American" table of 4 or 5 friends from Benedictine (where the groom played tennis). Everyone else was German! And most were family or close friends at that! I felt a little out of place, but it was very nice to be included in that!
|(Notice the matching purple?? I planned that. :) )|
|(I was wearing Corinna's moms sweater so I didn't freeze to death...)|
Thank goodness we ate very shortly after we sat down. I was famished! Food was delicious!! I don't know what half of it was, but I seriously chowed down! Best part was a cheese plate at the very end! I even went back for seconds. Pretty sure I ate more than Matt. And I didn't care.
We sat and talked for awhile. The guys wen out to smoke some Cuban cigars, and I sat with one of the guys' wifes. I surprisingly wasn't that tired anymore. I think I just needed some food.
At one point, all of the German girls (and the bride and grooms mothers) were up dancing to some German song. They were trying their best to waive me out there, and I was trying my best to ignore them. Finally, the brides mom came over, grabbed me, and said in her thick German accent, "What?! Do you no dance in America?!" Everyone died laughing, and of course I had to go out and dance around with the girls for a few minutes after that. :)
The talking - and drinking - continued. Everyone had left except our young table and two of Corinna's friends by midnight. Unfortunately for me, the boys weren't stopping anytime soon. It was fun to see Matt enjoying and reliving his glory tennis days with the guys. :)
We played some stupid "famished frog jumped..." drinking game for EVER!! And everyone besides me was so drunk. It was hilarious. For awhile anyways. Then I just wanted to strangle the one German guy who just could NOT get the sentence down. This went on for like an hour. Everyone we had left. The bride and her mom were cleaning up. And I could NOT drag the drunken boys out of that tent! (Denz ate an entire wheel of cheese during the game. No joke.)
|The bench they were sitting on fell over...|
Finally, after Corinna's mom brought the ferry schedule, the boys were convinced we should catch the 2:05am ferry. TWO A M !! And this was the "light" party night. Roman (groom) kept telling us to be ready for tomorrow night. Holy cow. I'm not going to make it!
|On the drive home...|
Pavol drove us, and we were a little early. The ferry took about two minutes to get us across the river, and our hotel was right there. But it was dark. And locked. Apparently they shut down at midnight. They told us that before they left, but I didn't think that meant it would be dark and locked! Our giant key ring had two keys on it. One was for he front door. It was kind of creepy walking through a dark, quiet hotel. But I was happy to be there...
Oh, and the guys are talking about getting up at 7 or 8am and going in to the city to see Bremem. Please. If anyone wakes me up before 10am, we are going to have some words!
Off to bed now. At 2:30... Hopefully for a good nights sleep. (With no working outlets in our room. Thank goodness Matt charged his phone for a little bit at Corinna's parents house so we could use our white noise app!)