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Germany to the Netherlands

NETHERLANDS | Saturday, 13 July 2013 | Views [490]

When you're by yourself there is no real sanity check. When I first started traveling in February, I equated the open planning to jumping without a chute. Since then I'd fallen into the habit of lining my accommodations up immediately after or sometimes even before I bought the ticket. Then I found myself sitting on a platform in Hanover, having missed my connecting train, heading towards a large park I was almost certain would be closed by the time I reached it. Two buses through two small towns still separated me from the Kroller Muller museum situated in the middle of a sculpture garden in the middle of a park. That night I might very well have to sleep a la bum - the occupation I'd been writing in all the forms might finally come to pass (and I found myself regretting the all too accurate joke).

I admit I was a little bit nervous, but less than I should have been - perhaps this is the confidence I've gained from so much successful travel. Perhaps this is the pride before the fall. Either way it would make a great story.

I had decided to go to this park for a couple reasons - when a girl calling herself Hoops chided me for only going to Amsterdam while I would be in the Netherlands, I asked her where a better alternative would be. Having already discussed my interest in post modern art, she suggested this enormous sculptural garden located in the heart of one of the Dutch's two privately owned parks. So first of all for the sculpture, secondly for the change of pace.

Europe has been a rapidfire array of large cities. Riding a train from one to the next I got into a routine - train to bus to hostel, then settling in I'd look for something to eat and something to drink. Gone was the wonder that had initially accompanied my arrival into a new country - no longer did I step off the plane and reel for a minute, stare out at the new place and go "oh my god, I'm here."

I had become jaded. Newness was old hat - the cities were all starting to blur and become boring, as if that were possible. Prague was Krakow
was Budapest, insulated as I was in a different hostel with the same set of foreign backpackers - here some Americans, there some French,
and always the Australians, haha.

Camping, I was hoping, would give me a break, a minute to collect myself and remember that this was living a dream - seeing foreign and (admittedly less so than Asia) exotic locales. It's hard when you've been doing anything for five months to remember the novelty of it when you first started - why you were so excited to do it in the first place. I needed a bit of a shift to snap myself back to the wide-eyed backpacker and away from the jaded bum.

I think sleeping out in the forest's a good way to start.


Nevertheless, first I had to figure out how I was going to spend the night in Apeldoorn. The train station let out into a quiet little corner of what was a sleepy little town (though apparently also the location of the previous Queen's palace). Without any internet to track something down and without the forethought to figure it out before I'd set out that day, I wandered around trying to find a hostel or a hotel - or possibly even a park with a decent amount of cover where a guy could sleep unmolested for a night. It was only as I was turning back towards the center of town that I happened to pass a bar with a few locals.

"Are you carrying your whole life with you?"

I turned around, and she exclaimed, "Oh my god, there's one on the front too!"

Not to give you the wrong impression - most people had been surprised at how little I was carrying. But regardless, these locals were friendly and curious, and most importantly pushing beer into my hand so that I would stay and talk awhile. It was refreshing to spend time with actual locals - as I said earlier you mostly find yourself insulated with other tourists while you travel; it can be hard to break out into actual local land. They switched fluently back and forth between Dutch and English, only rarely asking me what a certain word was. They pointed me towards a youth hostel up the road and a budget hotel further out, then one of them turned to me and said "or you could just stay with us. I've got my daughter for the weekend, but I just sent her off with my friend."

Now if you've got common sense you'll know that the answer here pretty much should be "No thanks, I should be going..." But I don't seem to have that instinct... Thankfully it's always worked out for the best. Even this time. We finished up our drinks, loaded my backpack onto the back of his girlfriend's bike and I got on the back of his (again, should not have done this) and we were off.

I wasn't used to riding on the back of a bike, and we kept having to stop so I could get off and stretch. Each time we started back up, he would push off to the cry of "We can do this! Because we are Dutch!"

I spent the night in their spare bedroom (that might very well have been his daughter's, which was kind of strange, and the next morning he dropped me off at the gates of the park, nice as you please.

Now, I'm not advocating for jumping and trusting everything will work out, or following strangers in a strange town home to spend the night - honestly it was kind of a stupid thing to do on my part, but it worked out great, and it was an amazing experience. Sometimes it's hard to tell who you should trust and who you shouldn't; and honestly I trust way too easily. But I'm really glad I stopped in Apledoorn and met those people - it was definitely a highlight for this trip.

Tags: bus, fortune, luck, park, preparation, train

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