Broke in Amsterdam – Day 1
Imagine, for a moment:
You had a flight from Amsterdam to London, but life happened and you missed it. You then used what was essentially the last of your money to book a new flight for the next day.
This time, you made it (fool me once, and all that). Except, when you arrive at your gate the ladies at the desk tell you – for reasons that are unknown, and won’t be explained – that you can’t board the flight.
Oh, and they’re not going to refund your ticket.
You stand, watching people go in and out of your gate as your world crumbles beneath your feet, because you’re now faced with the stark reality of being stranded with no money in the 12th most expensive city in Europe!
What would you do? What if your next available flight was only five days from now? There’s no way you’d make it, right?
I was about find out.
As anyone who follows me on YouTube well knows, I’ve spent my fair share of time weathering what some might call “unfavourable circumstances.” I do it gladly and I do it for you. But they’re usually on my own terms, and I usually have time to at least mentally prepare.
Still, there’s no time like the present, and a 5 day broke in Amsterdam challenge didn’t sound too bad. But If I was going to pull this off I’d have to take quick stock of the situation. Soon I’d be hungry, tired, and still homeless. So what did I have?
A backpack with a handful of clothes, a few essential toiletries, and . . . €14.50.
Right. This was going to be a long week!
As any experienced life/survival hacker knows, securing food is a top priority. The other essentials such as accommodation and travel would have to wait.
A quick search on google yielded some great results right off the bat.
Tastebeforeyouwaste.org is an organization that seeks to combat the global food-waste problem by “hosting donation-based events such as foodcycle markets, wasteless dinners, and educational workshops, showcasing that the food that is currently regarded as waste is actually delicious.” Looking for sites like these is a must in situations where you need to eat but have no money at all. There’s a good chance you won’t find many, or any, by walking around, but take a look online and you might find that there’re more around you than you’d expect.
I started with a free food-walking tour that was being held later that day (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like). Upon arriving at the designated location, I was met by a gathering of free-food enthusiasts preparing for their day on the town.
Our appointed ring-leader herded the group together, then turned to face us. “So, my first question goes, are you guys all hungry?” He asked, with what was probably fair bit more gusto than any of us expected.
“Yeah!” Our merry bad responded, before holding out our hands to accept the contents of a box of free, sugary treats. His implications of a second question immediately forgotten.
[Video Timestamp 5:03]
Off we went, from restaurant to restaurant collecting small portions of cheese, peanuts, finger-foods, cookies, and caramel-filled waffles, snorting cocoa powder – which I really don’t recommend – and ending the tour with a round of gin for all.
It was defiantly a fun experience, and a great chance to meet like-minded locals, but, unfortunately, did little to stave off my hunger.
I decided to withdraw €10, leaving me with €4 in the bank, and bought myself a paper cone filled with fries, and the cheapest salad I could find. It would have to do for now. I had gone to a bunch of stores looking for discount isles, which would typically have shelves full of foods that were close to expiry, but apparently that isn’t really something shops do in Amsterdam, which is really quite disappointing.
But I was full, and wouldn’t need to eat again until the next day which was a win in and of itself. This left me with one final task for the day: shelter.
[Video Timestamp 12:00]
Earlier that day I’d taken to tinder and swiped right on every face the presented itself. Less out of lustful desperation and more because I was hoping to find at least one person who would be willing to spare me a couch – or anything with a roof, really. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but it’s not the worst way to go in a pinch. I’d also tried a couch surfing site but, unfortunately, neither of these approaches proved fruitful.
A hostel was the next best thing. Not to rent a room, of course, but to try and make a friend. Via, the hostel I decided to try, was an incredible, lively, youthful cluster of a space that was no doubt an ideal setup for the backpacking nomad. If you weren’t on your laptop sipping coffee, you were drinking with friends, playing ping-pong, dancing, or recovering from the night before.
After some light socialising, I’d met a nice girl from South Africa who seemed like a hopeful prospect.
I was very wrong, but she seemed to think I could probably get away with sleeping in the common area, which actually wasn’t the worst suggestion. Even as late as it was, the crowd hadn’t really died down, and it was probably quite common for people to expend the last of their energy down here before passing out in one of the many hammocks hanging from the ceiling.
Cutting my losses, while reminding myself to be grateful that I had at least made it this far, I cosied up into a vacant hammock and settled in for what was shaping up to be a trying week.
Four more days to go.