The TGV from Paris to Amsterdam seemed to take a long time. For one thing, I had to kill two hours in the Paris Gare du Nord before the train thanks to my screw-up, and for another, the train had delays en route. Interestingly, this train was a two-parter. There were two main engines hooked together in the middle of the train body, and at Brussels they were decoupled and the front half of the train went one direction while the back half went to Amsterdam. I think that’s kind of slick. Both halves shared the same route as far as Brussels, Belgium, and there they parted company. It meant you had to walk a rather long way down the track initially to get to the Amsterdam half of the train, but it was much easier than changing trains later along the route. Instead, you stay where you are and the train itself changes. How cool is that?
I got out of the train station in Amsterdam and caught a cab to my hotel. I was late for dinner due to missing the early train, but I could still make it by ten if I hurried (I called ahead to say I’d be late but ten was pretty much the cut-off). I left the bags in the lobby with the front desk and hurried over to my favorite Indonesian restaurant. I know – you’re thinking “Indonesian food in Holland?! What the heck?”. But Indonesia was a Dutch colony for a long time, and there is a liberal immigration policy between the two countries, or at least there was once if there isn’t now. There are plenty of Indonesian people and restaurants in Holland. They have invented a dish that seems unique to Holland called the rijsttafel. It means “rice table”, and they bring you bowls of rice along with teacup-sized samplings of different dishes. The courses get hotter and hotter as you move along the row of cups and it makes for a fun, spicy evening. I even got fresh guava juice which I haven’t had since I was in the southern hemisphere. What a treat. The next day I was leaving for Bergen, Norway, but tonight it was a mild evening along a canal in the old world, with young happy people all around me. As I walked back along the gracht (canal) and watched the tourists and locals after midnight in the Rembrandtplatz, I thought how lucky I was to see so much, and how wonderful the world was.