August 15 - Travel to Amsterdam

Lazy rainy morning

PCR test results came in at 4 am - negative

Mom looking for train tickets to Astrahan and I write a review for Airbnb experience

Why do I feel like I need to write a solid paragraph for Airbnb reviews? I take it as a writing assignment - editing and editing.

Settle on Teremok for breakfast (Russian fast food.) Est. 1998. Amazing. Why didn’t we start this? 

Last walk through palace square trying to remember everything.

Mom and I argue about taking photos of reflections in puddles.

Coffee at Skuratov. Second coffee of the trip, losing only to the instant coffee mom and I cried into our first morning in Penza.

I squeezed a third shower into this 2 night night stay at this place.

Somber metro ride and bus ride

Check my carry-on all the way to SF, but take out running shorts before I drop it off. Left my toiletry ziplock in though. Oops.

Hang out by customs with mom. Finally get up 5 minutes before boarding.

Social distancing is like an invitation to cut the line in Russia. I get cut by 5 parties before getting to passport control. But I’m leaving, so fuck all y’all.

Passport control lady looks at my passports a long time and calls someone. Just as I get worried that I’ll be stuck in the land of cutting the line, she lets me go. Phew. 

Window seat! Guy in the middle is manspreading. Finish The Singers by Turgenev and every bit of food that the airplane crew gave out.

Google Maps has crashed in the background and I don’t have wifi, so I’m trying to remember where to go 

I go to a train, show the conductor my ticket, and ask if I’m in the right place 

“You have to cross the yellow line to get on the train”

I’m on the wrong train

Stuck behind tourniquets to exit the train station

Sweating, no wifi, trying to figure out what to do

Curse myself for forgetting to cache Amsterdam maps

Give up on using Google Maps and figure it out the old fashioned way

Can finally relax on the tram

Guy causally on a bicycle with a newborn strapped to his chest

And he (and everyone else) is beating the tram

Does everyone know how cool they are?

House boat airbnb is so neat

So is having wifi!

Trying to figure out my next moves while watching a bunch Dutch people casually cruise through canals on a sunny Sunday night

I’ve never felt lamer by comparison

Soon enough I feel even lamer when I try to check out at a local grocery store with floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant and they reject my card

Mortified in the self-checkout area, a helpful clerk explains to me that they only accept local cards and WePay (lol), no Visa or MasterCard

Sheepishly put away all the embarrassing items I was avoiding being seen acquiring (hence self-check out)

As if all that wasn’t embarrassing enough, I struggle getting OUT of the store

You usually scan a receipt to open the door to exit

Same clerk has to help me out

What a nightmare

Dinner at Markthallen

Shockingly no faux pas here besides my Vietnamese noodle bowl being too salty and another solo guy at a table next to mine trying to talk to me

Walk through Rembrandtpark. No idea what any of the signs say. Something is forbidden but unclear what.

Really have to take a shit and hurry 2 miles back

Sleep on the comfy bed