Amsterdam, Netherlands: Arrival Experience

Copyright: Ranoo Sharma (@theranoosharma, @platinumtravelgirl)
Amsterdam Canals
Copyright: Ranoo Sharma (@theranoosharma, @platinumtravelgirl)

My arrival experience at Amsterdam was undoubtedly eventful. I was a little tired from the long flight, and the long line at immigration didn’t help either. Once I reached the booth, the officer asked the usual questions. As I was a solo traveler, he was a little skeptical, so he asked me for my hotel reservations. You must always have all your documents and bookings in hand. I had a full file of all my planned activities, with tickets neatly stacked in a folder. He flipped through the folder, satisfied, stamped my passport, and I was finally ready to take on Amsterdam after taking on my baggage, of course.

I did look into buying a SIM card before my arrival and picking it up at the Amsterdam airport but honestly couldn’t find anything relevant, so my first task after immigration was to hunt for a local SIM card. 

I was greeted by one of the most vibrant sites to see, the airport had an array of colorful shops that went on forever. They had everything from coffee to big tulip souvenir shops. I would have loved to spend a little more time at the airport admiring the vast array of colorful wooden and plastic tulips that surrounded me, but my tired body wanted to have a few hours of sleep. 

There are a lot of little versions of supermarkets that advertise “SIM card available” on the front side of their shops. I stopped at one such stop and bought a Lyra SIM card for 30 euros that had a ton of data because you know your girl needs google maps always.

I made an error right at this moment. Learn from my mistake, and no matter how tired you are, make sure you insert your SIM card and make it work before you leave the shop else ask them to change it. That sim did not work at all, and I had to take another one from Amsterdam Centraal the next day.

After pocketing the SIM card, I wheeled out as fast as I could to the taxi stand. As you exit the airport, you can spot their official government taxi stand clearly. Whenever I land in a new country, I always make sure to take the official taxi to my hotel. I get to experience the local taxis, talk to the driver about what’s happening in the city, and just have a rate comparison to services like Uber. I also feel that an official meter taxi, although a little more expensive, is best if you are new to the place and have heard about outrageous price scams to and fro from the airport.

I was surprised to see beautiful teslas and amazing big black shiny high-end cars as their official taxis. I got a big Mercedes van, and it was a very comfortable and smooth ride. I did try to talk to the driver, but sadly he wasn’t as chatty as I would have liked him to be. A little older European men are a bit skeptical of tourists that may look a little different. There I said it, you can feel the awkwardness sometimes. It’s not about being disrespectful, I just think that people are programmed to believe certain stereotypes and if they encounter someone from a place where they have a very set image of, in real life, they just don’t know what to say. For example, Indian women are not believed to be outgoing and there is a general consensus out there that big fat Indian weddings with a Bollywood dance and curry is the only thing known to us apart from sad third-world children photos on the complete opposite end of the emotional spectrum that you get to see in the media. This just applies to certain people, though. But there are many younger people who are welcoming, unbiased, and talk to you without any preconceived notions or judgments. There is hope, these people exist, and I will be telling you about them too!

I arrived at the hotel, and my driver was very polite, helped me with my luggage. I am a good tipper, something I picked from my parents. I have a crazy level of anxiety, and if a car ride can lull me into sleep, it means that the driver is excellent with a fantastic smooth vehicle, it also said that he was getting at least 20% tip. He went back to his car, happy. I realized that Amsterdam might not be big on tipping as the USA is, so if any students are reading out there, you kinda don’t have to if you can’t afford it. 

I checked into my hotel for a much-deserved nap after a warm shower to wash the travel fatigue away.
The last tip, water bottles are chargeable. If you are like me with a sensitive stomach that cannot drink water from the tap, get some bottled filtered water from the airport itself from the shops.


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