A few days ago the temperature here in Boston soared. All I needed for a trip to the grocery store was a mid-weight rain jacket. As I strolled along the sidewalk making a shopping list in my head, I put my hands in my pockets. And withdrew a €2.70 GVB card. (The acronym GVB stands for, as you no doubt know: Gemeentevervoerbedrijf).
Instantly in my mind I was back on the Amsterdam metro on my last day there. Packed up and both ready and not at all ready to bid adieu to this impressive city and country and return to my own home.
Though my home exchanger very kindly lent me the use of his GVB OV-chipkaart (of course, that is: Openbaarvervoerchipkaart) for my stay, I had to leave it for him when I left. So, as I did on my arrival to the Amsterdam Centraal train station three weeks earlier, I purchased a GVB card good for one hour on the train. This return purchase was much easier than that initial purchase, which involved the help of two very friendly GVB employees and the credit card of a tired and slightly dumbstruck American tourist (that being me).
On the trip home that day, I was wearing my rain jacket because it was, shocker of shockers, raining. In Amsterdam. In the springtime. That was not my full Dutch experience, though. The first two weeks were a sunny delight. So delightful to the local residents, in fact, that one young man pulled out his iPhone to show me the weather app and to point to the 6 sequential pictures of the sun. As he shared this with me, his face was a wonderful mix of awe, pleasure, and, I believe, a soupçon of pride in his hometown.
This trip was the last time I had the opportunity to ride in the midst of art in this art-full city. As the interiors of many cars on two of the three metro lines that would take me to the train station were painted as part of the Art on the Metro program. And it was the last time I got to see, in person, the fabulous signs dictating behavior on the metro. Oh how I loved those signs (and the implied moral judgement in some of them).
Not long after that short trip to the station, I was aboard a train to Schiphol Airport. Where I boarded a British Airways plane that sat on the gate for an extra half hour. Not that I minded, as I was in the cockpit, sitting on the jump seat, chatting with the two adorable British pilots–Ian and Trevor. Alas, I did have to go back to my assigned seat before we took off. And after a quick stopover at Heathrow, I was on my way back home.
What an amazing experience to recall on a warm January day on the streets of Boston.