Sitting in seats 10A and 10B has its advantages: we bounded off the plane the second all of the Business Class folks had exited. Judging by the smell, Schiphol had finally gone mostly nonsmoking; for the first time in my life, I wasn't assaulted by a wall of hazy smoke the second I got off the plane. The luggage arrived immediately; Customs wasn't a problem, and so we were walking towards our appointed meeting place when we ran into Chris, who looked remarkably perky for having sat on an overnight flight from Atlanta. However, we could not find nonsmoking seating for 3 at Café Le Grand, so we wound up commandeering some extra tables nearby. I fetched us three koffie verkeerd and we sat down to wait for Brian, whose flight was set to land about an hour later.
Now, earlier on in the week I suggested to Brian that he just get to the hotel by himself as we might not wait around for him, but after thinking it over, I realized that it would've been extremely lame of us to have done so. After all, it was his first trip to Europe, and he had the longest flights of any of us, so duh, we should wait around for him and all go into town together. Thankfully, his flight landed a little bit early as well, so we all marched straight on out to the bus stop to wait for our bus to the Leidseplein. Not five minutes later, the first stoned query from American tourist hit us... something about if this was where "the bus" left from. Now, hmmm... let's see... Do you think there's only one bus from a major international airport? Do you think that maybe bus stops look kinda similar the world over? Let's just say that stupidity + marijuana + never having been out of the country before makes for some really, really stupid questions. However, I decided to play nice and show them how to read a bus stop timetable. Chris and I smoked to pass the time, our bus arrived, and we road in luxurious and cheap (€2,60 per person) style to the Leidseplein. I'd never taken the bus before, but whoa, that was SO much better than taking the train! Much faster, more comfortable, and plenty of room for my luggage. When we got out at the Leidseplein, I even managed to correctly remember where the Golden Bear was, so we checked into our rooms in record time. Our room seemed to be the nicer one [OK, it was - bigger and more up-to-date] - but Brian and Chris's room across the hall was much nicer in terms of actually being able to sleep. It faced the tranquil inner courtyard; ours faced a public street filled with partygoers up until about 4 AM every night. Yikes.
After this point I don't remember anything from the rest of the day, somehow. I must consult the other three to jog my memory. I believe we walked to the train station to organize weekly tram tickets [after Chris and Brian got passport pictures for €4], buy the Herfsttoer tickets for tomorrow, and then walked through the Red Light District looking for food. We stopped at Het Karbeel, decided it was too pricey and unappetizing, and then wound up at a distinctly lame pancake house. Nothing says quality pancakes like square Danish ham with Aldi gouda, but it did hit the spot nicely and wasn't TOO overpriced [OK, the beer was a gouger at €4 a glass, but it was still better than standing outside in the rain]. Afterwards, I believe we went home via Coffeeshop the Otherside, which led to a very nice evening back at the hotel, complete with strange, strange comestibles.