‘I get inspired in certain places. You have to write in places like Amsterdam…’ – Action Bronson.
Due to being a little last minute booking our flight home for Christmas, Josh and I were not offered a huge variety without making the sacrifice of eating soup for the next two months. Which is how we found ourselves booking a 37 hour flight from Beijing to Birmingham with a 14 hour stopover in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The stopover was well timed overnight so we were able to book a hotel and consider it a mini holiday to begin Christmas in Europe.However, even with all the excitement and positivity we felt on the first leg of our journey, I was not prepared for how exhausted I would be on landing in Amsterdam. I felt so close yet so far from Britain and all I desired at that moment was a comfortable bed and a 12 hour snooze. Even so, I was determimed to make the most of our 14 hours and after a 5 minute freshen up in the hotel, we were back on transportation again. This time a train heading into the city.
Fortunately both Josh and I have been to Amsterdam before so we felt no pressure to see anything in particular. Therefore we were at our leisure to wander the well lit streets, full of Christmas decor, reminding me of one of the many reasons I could never be anywhere but home at this time of year. Despite it still bring a foreign country, I felt at home amongst the babble of Europeans shopping, eating and smoking. It was a small luxury to find our way around the town due to the dominance of the English language. Though I love China, even simple tasks can be exhausting due to the language and cultural barrier. We wandered aimlessly around the busy streets, drinking in the fresh air and black, starry skies – elements I have really learned to appreciate. After a couple of hours, we stopped for dinner at an Italian and enjoyed the best pizza I have eaten in my four months away. Beijing has some fine Italian restaurants however I still claim that no continent does pizza like the Europeans. Following further drinks we finally drew our evening in Amsterdam to a close, jet lag and exhaustion were overpowering and I still had a flight and a 5 hour train to withstand.
Whilst our 14 hours was not quite the crazy night I had been dreaming of, it was still the perfect start to my Christmas holidays. It is a stopover we would like to make a tradition of – only next time we would make it longer. There is, after all, only so much you can do in 14 hours.