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How to (literally) survive Amsterdam

Ahhhh. Amsterdam. The city of marijuana and canal cruises. For my first weekend trip out of Belfast myself and a few others actually chose to go to Barcelona. But if you have seen the news lately, that was a no go. So after only getting $15 back on our flights, some of us decided to go to Amsterdam last minute. GREAT IDEA.


So, this story starts before we even get there. It’s 7 am in the morning, our cab has just arrived. And what happens when we are about to drive off? The engine won’t start. This should have indicated to us what we were getting ourselves into for the next 24 hours. Because it gets a lot rockier from here.


A view from the canal cruise.

When we arrived in Amsterdam, we ate some really delicious breakfast food while the restaurant’s house cat watched us. All was good. We made our flight and made it into the city. FALSE.


Since there was a huge EDM festival happening that weekend, we were forced to get a place 15 miles away from the city unless we wanted to pay a high price each night. So around 6:30 in the evening we headed to the station to catch our hour and a half bus ride to our Airbnb. As a disclaimer, the following events are not even in the slightest bit the fault of Airbnb. They have incredible customer service and really took care of us. But I just really wish we would’ve spent the extra dough to stay in the city.


When we arrive at the apparent location, we couldn’t get a hold of the host. Let’s call her Debra. After knocking on some doors, I decided to call Debra’s number. To my surprise, the voice on the other end was a man. Apparently, he was her husband. Not that it’s his obligation, but the man had really broken English. The phone kept cutting out and ending, and he kept asking us where we were and said to keep an eye out for the neighbor who had the key. Well, after knocking on 6+ doors, it was pretty clear something was off. He then sends us the address, and it turns out what was on Airbnb was completely wrong. We were 5 miles away from the real location.


We found a bus stop nearby and after waiting, we realized it was done for the evening. We then called for a taxi, they said it would be about 10 minutes and gave us a number to text. After 40 minutes, there was no taxi. At this point, we’re extremely miserable. It was cold, rainy, and we had nothing to eat since lunch. I then tried Uber and there were no cars around. I was so close to hitchhiking, but the girls were not having it. BUT. By what seemed like a miracle of God, a seven-person van appeared on my Uber app. When the driver came it was like an angel of the Lord had appeared. We told him our situation and he told just how lucky we were because he was the only van within 30 minutes of our location, and he had JUST so happened to be in the area. We all let out huge sighs of relief. Oh, if only we knew.


This was around hour 2 of being stranded at the bus stop.

When we arrived at the right address, two men got out of a car beside us. One with a cigarette and the other with a joint. I assumed it was the husband and his neighbor, and apparently it was. They then precede to walk us to the house. Listen carefully to this disaster. First of all, it was pitch black, so the husband (weed smoker) guided us by a tiny flashlight OFF the foot path and through the woods. While making our way through, I look back to one of the girls who, with a shaky voice, asked, “Are you sketched out?” “No, of course not.” I said. I lied straight to her face. I was trying to keep everyone calm and not let it get to me. But, on the inside, I was almost positive I was walking to my grave.


When we make it inside the home we were greeted with the sweet smell of smoke and weed, along with Heineken and pre-packaged breadsticks. We partook in the latter.


We all gathered around together on the couch and already there were some tears starting to flow. As we were discussing our potentially deadly fate, I smelled something burning in the already smoky air. Suddenly Mckenzie screams “FIRE!” and when I looked behind me, I saw that the curtain was smoking because it was sitting right on top of the lamp bulb. God really wasn’t done playing with us yet. Thankfully one of the girls took it off and sat down. This is when the REAL waterworks began. People were shaking and crying, and here I was just sitting there trying to keep it together. One of the girls had just gotten off the phone with her dad who informed us the listing wasn’t on Airbnb anymore. At this point I was beyond spooked and ready to leave. That same girl was almost convinced she was going to walk to the bus station by herself and book the closest flight she could back to Belfast. Thankfully this didn’t happen, and we all stayed together.


During the freak-out session we all held hands and began to pray one by one. Afterwards the atmosphere was a lot more peaceful, but we still were uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. We decided to stay one night, so we moved two mattresses into the living room and almost all of us slept in the same room. Before I passed out, I thought to myself, if I wake up, this should be okay.


To my surprise, the next morning I woke up. I was honestly a little shocked. One of the girls told me she found where the knives were just in case anything happened. Once we all got up and collected our things, we booked it out of there and never went back. We went into the city of Haarlem where we ate breakfast and tried to figure out what to do. After some extensive web searching, one of the girls found a hotel on the beach not too far from where we were. We were all so exhausted that money wasn’t a concern at that point, so we booked it.


Waiting around at the train station. We did a lot of this.

During breakfast, I already started the process of trying to get a refund for the two nights we weren’t staying at the death house. It was a long and lengthy process, but we did manage to get the refund and a coupon for our next trip. One of the most unsettling parts about it all was that even after our refund request and leaving an honest review on their profile, I got a review saying I was a great guest and that they were “waiting again for him [me].”


Luckily after we got everything sorted out, we had an amazing time exploring Amsterdam. We went on a luxury canal cruise one night, visited the Van Gogh Museum, and even got a two-hour bike tour of the city. Those experiences definitely made up for our first day and a half there, and if I could do it again, well, I think I would.


Another pic from the canal cruise. It was magical.

Thanks for reading, and if you really enjoyed it, feel free to share it with your friends! (Or your enemies).

JC

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