Its Monday July 27th, we arrive to Amsterdam. Its 0830 and our tour starts at 0930 for the Anne Frank House. The airport is huge and we’ve got a 35 minute commute without traffic. Frantically we rush through the airport and make our way to the taxi stand. Shit, the moment we step outside we are met by a cold gust of wind and rain that isn’t rain at all. It’s more like mist and it feels like hundreds of needles piercing my face.
We jump in a taxi unlike any I’ve ever seen before, very fancy a Mercedes. I attempt to put my makeup on in the back seat and eventually give up because our taxi driver is driving like a maniac. My stomach starts to turn. I feel my lips start to tingle and my cheeks are going numb. I look at Lindsey and practice deep breathing so I don’t vomit all over her as my body is being jolted all over the back seat. Giving her my sad puppy dog eyes, I only need to say one word and accent it just right to turn it into a question “Zofran?” We arrive to the Anne Frank house right on time and take our position in the queue.
After our tour we ask around for the best food in town, kindly the woman behind the counter at the Anne Frank Museum marks 3 locations to eat on our map. She recommends Winkle as her number one choice. “They have the best apple pie in the city” she said. We begin our journey to Winkle, which happens to be in the famous Jordaan district. Were arrive to an intersection and across the street I can already see the queue before I can even read the sign for the restaurant. We jump in the queue and a middle-aged man pops in behind us. He is polite and smiles. Lindsey and I grab a menu and look puzzled at one another. Neither of us having any knowledge of cheese. We both mumble to one another with our eyes wide “aged cheese or young cheese?” I turn to the man behind us and ask him what cheese he would suggest. I think he wanted to have more knowledge to give me regarding the difference in taste between the two, unfortunately all I got was a smile and “aged cheese is more mature, which makes it taste better”. He had a thick accent that I couldn’t quite decipher, Dutch is the primary language in Amsterdam. He was polite and smiled. He turned and asked if we could hold his spot he needed to find his wife. Everyone in the line began to chuckle and people were shouting in Dutch, shaking their heads and pointing to the back of the line. He laughed with them and quickly left the line to find he wife. He returned shortly after. Again, people in the line smiling and pointing. Joking with the man. I fell in love instantly with a group of strangers. Their friendliness was intriguing to me. I turned to Lindsey and couldn’t help but say “I love it here already!” This type of behavior towards strangers in most of the US is very uncommon, at least from what I’ve seen. We order our food and grab a seat on the front patio. Lindsey ordered the famous apple pie and she is not disappointed. I order a grilled cheese and coffee. Delish!!
Once we are done eating we give up our patio table to a cute elderly couple. There’s a market across the street. We meander through the booths covered with tapestries. For a moment we lose one another, but I’m getting used to being on my own now. Not feeling anxiety or fear. I know that she is near and eventually we will cross paths again. A few moments go by, I’m fidgeting with some jewelry, I look up and we make eye contact.
Together we go around the booths once more, the mist starts to turn into small drops of rain, and then begins to pour. Are we prepared for this? Hell no! We seek shelter under a booth and before I can even comprehend what has happened. I’m soaking wet and freezing. I let out a shrill sigh, probably a loud “Fuck” in there too! I open my eyes to see Lindsey looking back at me with her mouth wide open just as equally soaking wet as I am. People all around staring. We move quickly to another covered area across the path to avoid the down pour of rain and any further damage to our belongings. I cant help but smile and chuckle at our current situation. The tapestry above us had filled with water and collapsed, we just happened to be its victims. Then out of nowhere people began to swarm us, giving us items. Paper towels, napkins, bags for our belongings, Lindsey was even given an umbrella. I fell in love all over again with the strangers of this city and the hospitality they showed to us. It is rare to be surrounded by strangers and still feel a sense of protection. These people who knew nothing of me, nothing of us, gave me a little more faith in humanity.