So. My first stopover was in Amsterdam, for 13 hours. I arrived at about 7:30 am, and got through Dutch customs (which is really, really, really easy to get through, at least if you have an American passport) a bit before 8:00 am, at which point I took a train to Amsterdam Central Station.
Let it be known: Amsterdam Central Station is misnamed. It is not really central to anything. It is central to my getting lost, perhaps. I asked a train worker how to get to Museum Square, and between my practically nonexistent Dutch and his not-so-great English, he sent me in a direction that I later figured out was pretty much the opposite of Museum Square. So I wandered around for approximately three hours. Amsterdam is difficult to get one's bearings in, as the streets are all crookedish (that's a word now) and it is impossible to get going in one direction. During this time, three different people asked me for directions in Dutch, which they were then dismayed to find that I do not speak very well at all. At this point you may be wondering "Alex, why did you not just ask someone for directions? Lots of Dutch people speak really awesome English." The answer to this is "I am shy and somewhat stubborn, now shush."
Eventually, I found a public transit map and figured out that I could take a tram to museum square, so I got on the tram and attempted to ask for a ticket in Dutch (I feel bad for the lady who sells tickets on the tram, she must get so tired of tourists coming in and asking for een kaart and throwing Euros at her). It worked, and I eventually made it to Museum Square. At this point I was extremely hungry, so I bought a sandwich and an exotic Dutch diet coke (in Dutch! I have Mad Dutch Skills) and consumed them rapidly. And then I had a waffle. With ice cream. It was magically delicious.
I was originally planning on going to the Rijksmuseum, but it was being remodeled and thus was half-closed down, so I went to the Van Gogh museum instead. I could write about how cool it was all day, but that would get a bit boring, so take my word when I say that the Van Gogh museum was awesome, and totally worth going to. At this point, I decided that I had had enough adventure for one day and went back to the airport. Amsterdam seems really lovely, and I would love to go back sometime when I have another person with me and speak more Dutch. Everyone rides bicycles (without helmets! Safety first, kids!) and looks hipster-y and seems rather pleasant. I was going to try to put some pictures in this post, but that doesn't seem to be working right now. Perhaps later.
My flight from Amsterdam to Cairo was on KLM/Royal Dutch, which is the best airline in the entire history of the world. (Note: your mileage may vary in how much you love KLM). I had so much leg room. The last time I said this about an airline was when I was 5 years old. They also fed me pasta and some kind of cream puff dessert, and their flight attendants are cheerful and tolerated my horrible Dutch-speaking.
Post tomorrow will be on Cairo, aka my hotel room.