We pick up our story after passing through the incredibly stringent German border heading towards the Belgian capital; Brussels. (Part 1)
Step 4: Brussels, Belgium -> Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam would be my final destination within continental Europe. The Eurolinks bus dropped me off in the heart of Brussels at their headquarters where I’d check-in for my next and final bus journey. Due to the beautiful nature of Europe’s petite-ness, such a journey would only take a few hours. Essentially down the road compared to previous transports.
Despite that, this became the longest, most agonizing journey of my young life. 99.99% of the motivation to undergo this long-ass journey was down to the possibility of visiting Amsterdam. Since my first ambitions of travelling were born from an anxious teenager’s mind, Amsterdam was always top of the list. I had to listen to tales from friends, siblings and parents of this Garden of Eden. Never in my entire life had I been so exhilarated and giddy with inpatient tapping fingers counting each mile as it passed.
Travelling from the bus station to my hostel within the heart of Amsterdam was completed in record time with the unbelievably brisk pace of a businessman about to miss his flight. The hostel was found, and the bags thrown into the room, and I was back on the street before they hit the floor. I was on the streets of Amsterdam at 7pm, I had the whole night to explore.
Now travelling is all about experiencing different cultures, exposing yourself to a different way of life, some of which unfamiliar to you (in some cases). Its not about judgement, it’s about opening yourself up to a different experience, respecting the locals, when in Rome. At 7:05pm following a frantically urgent jog, I arrived at my first ever coffee-shop. As my little notepad recalls, I provided several coffee-shops with my custom that night.
Photographic evidence would also show that I managed to find Anne Frank’s house. Due to the time I wasn’t able to go inside, however I did manage to get the view from the outside. At first it’s difficult to find a single house within the maze of high-reaching houses of the city, however is made easy with two monstrous churches on either side of it. I looped back towards the centre of the city, passing through the immaculately lit up Dam Square.
Following this and visiting a few other coffee-shops along the way, in what could only be described as a hazy sequence of pornographic flashes, the latter stage of the night was spent browsing and observing through the red-light districts. This would include the many pink-lit window displays and the discretely hidden streets with lines of curious onlookers walking in single file like efficient worker ants.
This also included some of the social acceptable sexual attractions Amsterdam has to offer. One of which being the infamous sex museum (which was completely empty at the time. As well as one of those “pay-for-display” kind of establishments where dropping of a coin in a slot gives you a minute of two of live sexual imagery.
Despite the copious amounts of sedatives within my system, it was up and early, for no other reason than the need to explore more of this fascinating city. An attempt to find the “I Amsterdam” sign was met with failure and wasted time. With a few hours to kill, I ceremonially selected “The Bulldog Café” to be my final stop in the city. I sat there with my freshly made coffee and my previous nights merchandise soaking in each and every last second of my personal heaven.
Step 5: Amsterdam, The Netherlands -> Dublin, The Republic of Ireland
In a strange way, I considered this as the home coming moment. For many reasons it was. Ireland would have to considered a second home. Our beloved Irish neighbours are only separated by a short-ferry ride, and with family that call the place home, regular visits were not uncommon. Many connections and memories are held with our Celtic brother nation. This would also be the country where I’d be re-united with my family.
This of course was the whole point of this trip in the first place, to see my family. Flying in the early afternoon, I landed in Dublin and was reunited with my brother and his wonderful wife. This particular step was significant in the fact that I would get to see my beautiful half-Irish baby nephew for only the second time in his young life. However the big surprise was yet to come.
The surprise for the most part was organised by my father. We’d chosen this date for my arrival home as my parents had already planned to visit my brother in Ireland at that time. My brother dropped me off down the road from the port for me to wait for my parents arrival. Little did my mother expect as she walked to my brothers car at Dublin Port that her baby boy would pop-up out of nowhere with a “Hi mami”. This is where I got to spend two days with my family
Step 6: Dublin, The Republic of Ireland -> Wales
I couldn’t very well come all that way without stepping foot on my blessed motherland. Frankly, this was the perfect ceremonial return to home. The ferry from Dublin to Anglesey was a journey I had done countless amount of times, a journey I thoroughly enjoy. There none too more beautiful ways to return in such a peaceful relaxing and spine-tingling moment as you see the landscape reach closer and closer. Tears creeped their way into my eyes as I envisioned a male vice choir celebrating my return home.