Friday, January 31, 2014, 7PM Local Time
The first of (hopefully many) weekend trips for this exchange student: Amsterdam. One of the reasons why I chose a European destination to call home for the next few months is because of the vast array of unique cultures and historical places located within a fairly concentrated area (at least, compared to Canada!) Getting from Rotterdam Centraal to Amsterdam Centraal ("centraal" = main train station), is a roughly hour long train ride. The transit system in the Netherlands is consistent throughout the entire country, and amongst all forms of public transit. Individuals purchase a "chipkaart" for 7 € that they load up with credits. Upon entering a tram/train/metro, you "tap in" the card on a sensor, and a "boarding fare" is subtracted from your credits. Before disembarking, you "tap out", and the boarding fare is reimbursed, minus the cost of the trip itself. Individuals need to make sure they "tap out", otherwise they'll lose the entire boarding fee. Whether I'm taking a 10 minutes tram from my residence to campus (€1), or a 1 hour, 17 minute train from Rotterdam to Amsterdam (€14.50), the process is the same! Whereas back in Toronto I would have to span the YRT, TTC, and MiWay to get to work during the summer (and pay each corresponding fee), the chipkaart system is much more streamlined! Of course, biking is a much more cost effective way of transportation, but my biking skills are shaky at best (I'll go into detail about this eventually), and despite how comfortable I might be starting to feel in this place, a 4-hour bike ride is a bit much for me!