Northern Europe in November

The flight from Delhi was almost free of turbulence.  I felt rattling only once while being jarred awake, as there was an announcement in Dutch followed by English.  A flight attendant stated that we were flying through strong winds.  The shaking subsided in seconds and I was back asleep.

After landing in Amsterdam and exiting the aircraft, I quickly made my way to customs.

A man with an African skin complexion was in front of me.  It took him about three minutes to clear.  Then, in about 10 seconds and no words spoken, my passport was stamped and I was through. I thought:  It’s almost 2012 and racial profiling still exists.  Or could it be nationality profiling?  I’ll never know.  My guess is that it was a little bit of both. I felt a touch of sadness for the human existence.

I have no idea which passport the man held.  I pondered:  I’m fortunate to carry a US passport.

In just minutes I was on a train to central station.  In the early morning it was dark, and pleasantly cool.

After drifting near the station for about 10 minutes, I entered a café that had a free wifi sign.  I spent about an hour there before shutting down my machine as I noticed that it was getting light outside.

I headed out and spent about half an hour walking, pointing and clicking.  When I saw something I deemed worthy of a photograph, I ran to it to save time.  I was a slave to the connecting flight that was bought and paid for.

The almost-snowy mist felt refreshing after five months of tropical air.  I was reminded how much I love a cool mist.  If it had been snowing, I would have been just as pleased.

People were walking briskly.  I’m used to walking fast too.  I thought: Climate affects people.  Climate and people are one with the other.

In the tropics people are more relaxed.  They’re not in a hurry.  India has grown on me.  I hope to return, but this is the climate that I’m used to.  This is my climate.

The cool November air felt invigorating.

Many people were riding bikes to school and work on this gray and misty morning.   I reflected: What a great way to commute.  They’re getting exercise, not spending a cent, and performing an eco-friendly task.

While gazing around at the architecture and canals I realized that it was time to get back to the station to get my train back to Schipol International Airport and my flight to the states.

I walked through the station doors and thought: I really like Amsterdam.

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I had a four and a half hour layover in Holland’s capital.  Because there’s a train station built into the airport, I was able to spend about an hour and a half in the city.  It was a great way to break up my flights across the earth. 

It takes about 20 minutes to get from Schipol Airport to Central Station.  The round-trip ticket costs €7.90 or $10.68.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Annie on November 23, 2011 at 11:34

    Welcome back to the USA. Enjoy your visit and have a Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. Posted by Al on November 21, 2011 at 10:27

    So that means you were in India, glanced at a northern European capital, and arrived in North America, all in about a day´s time? Not bad 🙂

    Maybe the African traveler didn´t have an OECD approved passport, which required more paperwork -perhaps I am optimistic, but if in doubt, why assume the worst? Just a thought.

    What you say about the weather reminded me of my time in central Florida, most of the year (December can be rather cold) was hot -high eigthies and nineties, with short torrential rains during the summer, and very humid -but a good chunk of that time, if not most of it, is spent inside air conditioned buildings or vehicles. Still, people in FL do seem more relaxed than their north-eastern compatriots. I wonder if this is a cultural, climate, or life-style induced pattern…


    • AL: Yes, all that in about a day. I got lucky. The cheapest ticket I could find afforded me that layover in Amsterdam. With, time, access to cash and a passport it’s quite easy to fly across the earth. I call it virtual teleportation. The technology is available to make it a lot faster too. Remember the Concord? Paris to NYC in 3 hours And think of these awful figher jets.

      I’m a firm believer in optimism but that wasn’t the first time I’ve witnessed an epsiode of what I thought to be racial profiling.

      Parts of India and Florida have similar climates. My theory is that people in sunnier, warmer climates generally tend to be more relaxed. They move more slowly. It’s culture casued by the climate. The closer people are to the equator, the more relaxed they are. There are exceptions to the rule, like in Singapore. Of course in cities people go faster than in the countryside too, regardless of climate. Perhaps when it’s cold people need to move faster to stay warm and this is habit forming. I have no data to back this up it’s just my gut feeling from what I’ve observed over and over.


  3. I love Amsterdam too! The canals, and, oh yes the bicycles! Such a lovely city…


    • SARAH: Yes! Lovely is the perfect word to describe it. I could live there. The bike culture is great. It’s wonderful to live in a place where a car isn’t mandatory.


  4. Posted by Transient on November 21, 2011 at 00:45

    Love the photo with the buildings and the reflection in the water -Very nice!


    • TRANSIENT: Thanks! I only had the opportunity to snap shots very close to the station. I’d love to get back there with time to wander all over. The canals and architecture help make Amsterdam so visually charming.


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