Broke In A Foreign Country

Broke In Amsterdam – Day 2

After spending the night in a hammock the length of a mini fridge, and potentially ruining my back forever, I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and set out for my 2nd day of trying to make a living with no money in Amsterdam.

I needed to go somewhere busy, somewhere with a lot of things going on for me to explore and potentially leverage for food, accommodation, or travel.

For now I would have to keep taking the train to get around, for free of course. Rushing in behind people as they swiped their cards to get past security wasn’t without some sense of exhilaration, but I did wonder how sustainable a means of travel it was.

I’d heard there was a shop by the name of Albert Heijn that had a coffee machine anyone could use for free, which sounded like the shop for me. Any sustenance was good sustenance for now. Especially since I only had €2.00 left. Unfortunately, when I got to the shop and asked the lady at the counter if they had a free coffee policy, she looked at me like I’d gone mad.

Apparently Amsterdam isn’t big on free anything, which, for obvious reasons, would prove less than ideal for me.


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I did, however, catch wind of a free yoga class that was being held in a nearby square. It wouldn’t fill my stomach, but perhaps it would feed my soul — or help with my newly developed back issues. It was actually quite impressive. Hundreds of colourful yoga mats lined in rows to fill the space between large, old buildings, and though there weren’t many people there I figured in a few hours, when the event started, it would probably be quite the event.

I used the time I had to find €2.00 worth of food, which meant my safety net had officially vanished.

When I returned to the square, it seemed my hunch was correct; it was full to the brim with enthusiastic yoga lovers of all shapes and sizes, all of them wearing the free, white t-shirts given out by the event. The only problem was, it had started to drizzle, which was a bad sign for anyone opposed to the idea of wet, cold stretching.

We continued anyway, our desire to explore our inner bliss proving more powerful than the threat of rain or sickness. And fortunately, it never got too bad – though some did decide to leave early.

All in all, it was actually very refreshing! Perhaps even necessary, since I would likely need all the mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude I could muster for the road ahead.

The free stuff they handed out at the end was nice too:

  • A t-shirt
  • A delicious cup of tea
  • Two boxes of toothpaste

In situations like these, it’s important to take what you can get.


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I headed into town to continue my ever-pressing search for food. As I walked through the crowded plaza of people and restaurants, I noticed a man sweeping outside his barista, which gave me an idea; while I might have been broke in the truest sense of the word, money wasn’t the only currency available to me. In fact, for thousands of years, money wasn’t the currency for anyone. Trade was!

I approached him, and offered to take the task off his hands in exchange for a cup of fries. Whether he was impressed by my dedication to french-fries, or merely an empathetic soul, I don’t know, but he told me to wait there while he fetched some for me, free of charge, which was a kindness I won’t soon forget.

I feel like this is something we often forget when we’re in tough situations such as these. We probably have a lot more to offer than we think, and there’s always someone who can benefit from a little bit of help, and would be more than willing to compensate you for your service. In this particular instance, there was no work required, but I think that a willingness to serve will go a long way in getting people to help you overall.


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I spent the rest of the day sightseeing, meeting strangers, and searching for—you guessed it—more food. I went from bakery to bakery, and store to store, trying to find out if any of these places would be willing to part with food they were about to throw away. Many of them had food of this nature. None of them were willing to give it away. It blew my mind, actually, the amount of food that was probably being wasted every day. The idea that anyone could go hungry in this city of plenty was a depressing one. Amsterdam has so many wonderful things to offer, but they could definitely learn a thing or two from their neighbouring brothers and sisters.

More food was probably unlikely, so the last thing to do was find a place to sleep. I’d still not gotten any response on couch-surfing or tinder, and all the trains were done for the night, so going back to my hammock of death wasn’t an option either.  The station was open, but after talking to a few people it seemed that if I were caught sleeping anywhere inside I’d receive a hefty fine. Which, of course, wasn’t an option.

It was looking like an all-nighter. I’d have to wait until around 6-7a.m. for places to open until I could catch some rest away from prying eyes. I didn’t think it was possible, but it was beginning to look like day 3 was going to be even harder.

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