Yesterday for the first time in a long while, my father, mother, brother and I all had a day off and nothing planned. So we decided it would be fun to drive to Amsterdam and do some shopping, go out for dinner and see the special Christmas Lights all over the city.
You've read the title...
The day started off wrong. I woke up with a horrible pain in my right foot, so bad that I could hardly stand on it. I'd had this pain before a couple of weeks back and already resolved to go to the doctor once she was back from her Christmas holiday. To be honest, I hadn't expected it to come back so soon. I got ready and the pain subsided, so I thought I would be alright and we set out to Amsterdam.
Only... we had quite some trouble getting out of the house. We probably went back upstairs and back inside three or four times until we finally made it to the car. That was when we realized we had forgotten our navigation system and my brother had to hurry back inside to get it. Once we had everything and were good to go--we saw the tank was nearly empty.
Looking back, we should probably have taken all this as a sign.
Our next bout of bad luck came when we reached the Ajax stadium where we always use the park & rail service. There was a line. With dread we realized that there was a Christmas circus in town, which probably explained all the traffic. We only hoped there wasn't a match on.
When we finally reached the front of the line we were informed that the park and rail was closed today (it is NEVER closed!) and handed a leaflet with the orders to keep driving and try one of the other P&R's.
We drove a while until we could find a spot to actually look at the leaflet. Which, of course, was in Spanish--very helpful. None of us speak Spanish but we could still read the map and made our way to the next P&R. We couldn't find it. After driving in circles and following crazy directions on our nav system, in between other confused drivers, we finally realized that the P&R didn't exist anymore.
Getting frustrated, but trying to laugh everything off as something you'd find funny later, we started for the nearest P&R one that I had been to recently, so which should technically still be there.
Of course, so did everyone else.
There was a line. There were no spaces. It was already past two in the afternoon.
We don't give up easily though, so we made our way to IKEA, knowing that they always have plenty of (free) parking spaces. IKEA, naturally, had a huge sale and it was incredibly busy. By some sort of mercy from a higher power, we found a spot and made our way to the nearest metro station.
Which is when I found out that, really, I wasn't fine and that I couldn't actually walk on my right foot anymore. Still, I didn't want to be the one ruin our day (aside from, you know, luck, fate and several bored lesser deities at least). So we made our way slowly to the train and bought our tickets.
Everything seemed to be a little better and we were actually on our way to the city centre of Amsterdam. What could possibly go wrong now?
We left the metro-train and just before it left, my mother realized that one of the footrests of her wheelchair was missing. My brother jumped back in the train to look for it, but it wasn't here. He jumped out just in time and the train left.
Guess where it was?
That's right, on the train tracks. It had somehow magically managed to wriggle it's way free and fall through a gap that by rights shouldn't even be big enough for it to fall through.
My brother then sprinted after a man with a yellow vest, already leaving the platform. He called in one of his colleagues who then waited with us, while we all waited for the rescue team.
Meanwhile about seven trains passed and each time we kept praying that the momentum of the trains wouldn't move the footrest and they wouldn't de-rail or something.
The rescue team finally came, utterly amused and had to STOP TRAFFIC for us so that one of them could hop down and get the footrest. We thanked them and could finally go up above ground. I honestly wondered whether this wasn't all a sign that something horrible was about to happen if we set foot in Amsterdam. Maybe fate was actually trying to save our lives.
We still went, being the no-nonsense Dutch we are, and found our way to Dam Square. We were certain the worst was behind us and our luck would turn.
We went down Kalverstraat, which is the Amsterdam equivalent of Oxford Street, meaning it's a whooooole lot smaller and less interesting, but still the main shopping street. It was already late and we had about two and a half hours of shopping time left if we still wanted to eat at a relatively normal time.
We were about twenty meters in when suddenly there was a wall of people in front of us and a wall of people formed behind us and within seconds we were completely sandwiched in a huge body of people. Nobody moved.
Now I study in Amsterdam and I walk through the Kalverstraat all the time. I've been there in Summer when it's filled to the brim with tourists. I have been there at Koninginnedag when there isn't a spot of non-orange left and you are just swept away with the crowd (search for Queensday or Koninginnedag Amsterdam on google and you'll see) and this has never, NEVER, happened to me before.
We were stuck. Instead of being logical and each taking one side of the road, our side didn't leave room for their side to pass, and the same thing was happening over to their side. SO NOBODY MOVED. and we couldn't even go back anymore. We were stuck.
I don't get claustrophobic that easily, but after a while (especially when they started pushing) I couldn't breathe. I held on to my brother but we had already lost our parents somewhere in the throng. Slowly we inched forward. After about twenty-freaking-minutes of trying to move forwards we reached a point where there was a small side-street where half of hte people was trying to get into, and the other half was still trying to go forward.
We finally broke free and from one moment to the next we could move again and the whole problem was gone. For us. Not for the poor suckers still stuck behind us.
We laughed it off, me reminding the "horrible thing" I had thought would happen. If someone started to really panic in that mass of people, hysteria could have easily broken out and people could have gotten seriously injured.
Fortunately we were OK and most people seemed more annoyed and bewildered than panicked. So we hurried on, my foot by now so bad I was more limping than walking.
Then, as crown on the cherry, we finally reached a store my mother has wanted to go to for ages and... of course.... it was closed.
We still managed to visit some bookstores though and see a few of the lights. By now I felt so tired and sore that I really wanted to go home so we made our slow way back down (fast lifts, apparently are science-fiction in public transport and large department-stores).
Here our luck finally turned. By rights we shouldn't have caught our Metro-train which was already on the platform when my mother and brother were still waiting for the lift. But it left late for some reason and we still managed to board it. Then we made our slow way to IKEA, just in time before the kitchen would close, ate delicious if slightly cold meatballs with fries and finally went back home.
Right now my legs are sore, my foot still aches ... but yesterday surely was a day to remember and something to laugh about: The day luck was against us.
I hope you all had a lovely week.