Netherlands 2004 - Day 1

Edinburgh -> Amsterdam -> Edam

A week long vacation invariably starts the same way. An approximate destination is determined about a week beforehand. Packing is done the night before departure, and anything lost/forgotten is purchased at the airport before checking in. The flight is always after lunch (I still get as excited as a child on christmas eve, and finally fall asleep around 4am) and mid-week (it's generally easier getting to the airport - more buses, fewer people). Despite not getting to sleep until 4 I happily get up at 8, realise that I'm already packed and head to the airport several hours before the flight.

Having successfully followed this routine again for the current trip I found myself in Amsterdam a little after 4pm (local time - I lost an hour in the deal, but I'll get it back next week) looking for a place to stay. I rarely reserve a room, as that takes the spontaneity out of the situation. Besides, that would be too simple.

By 5pm I was getting a little tired of seeing 'vol' signs in hotel windows. Realising that there was little chance of finding anything reasonable near Centraal Station - there was even a conspicuous absence of the touts who usually approach anyone carrying a backpack - I hopped on a bus to Edam, which is only about 20km north of Amsterdam.

The thinking behind this : Edam is a small, quiet town yet used to tourism, so finding food and accomodation is more likely than during summer in Amsterdam. The traditional Kaasmarkt (cheese market) demonstration is held every wednesday at this time of year, and is something I'm keen to photograph. Thirdly, if unable to find accomodation, I'd be a lot happier sleeping under a tree in Edam than in Amsterdam. So Edam it was.

The VVV (tourist info board) was closed when I arrived, which meant that the option of a cheap bed+breakfast was gone. These are generally small operations which obtain business largely through the VVV; unlike the larger hotels which have a much greater advertising capacity.

After wandering about the town for a bit - it really isn't that big - I found a room at one of the nicer (and more expensive) looking hotels near the centre of town. The thought of sleeping under a tree had all but disappeared as I walked along the canal to the separate building containing the hotel rooms - it seemed the main building was just the restaurant. With the promise of a hot shower and comfortable bed to return to, I grabbed the camera and headed back out to explore Edam in the evening summer light.

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