Public Transport in a Heat Wave from ExpatrordinaryAmsterdam

11905950-tram-in-amsterdam-netherlands.jpgIf there is one thing I have to rave about living here in Amsterdam, it is the reliability and access of public transport. In peak hours trams and busses come between every 5 and 10 minutes. And in off hours, about 12. It’s helpful to know that if you need to get somewhere not in walking distance, and you aren’t biking, you can rely on these to get you where you need to go pretty much whenever you want and need to get there.

As expats, we were offered a car as part of our “package” moving here. We turned it down. Being familiar with the accessibility of public transport and bike lanes and living in walking distance of most conveniences, we opted out. The real fear of accidentally taking out a biker driving probably factored in a little bit as well, but all the same we decided to embrace city living without a car.

What we never took into consideration was, however, that public transport here in the Netherlands, being in Northern Europe, has no AC. While we are extremely fortunate to still be celebrating summer weather in Amsterdam, today was in the 80s, riding on public transport takes on its own level of tolerance. With this lovely extended hot summer weather, riders are suffering on trams, trains and busses. Oh my word. If I haven’t dropped 5 pounds already from all the walking and biking, I have sweated out at least 5 more just sitting – and sweating – on the tram and bus in my daily treks.

This is highly unusual weather for Amsterdam in September, and of course, we are loving it. But, even with the windows open, the temperature outside makes it pretty stifling inside. As I climbed on the tram today to do some errands, I got a little nervous when I saw the tram driver with half his shirt wet. I nearly turned around and got off. But, no, I stayed on thinking , how bad can it be?  I only lasted three stops.

I know I sound like a very spoiled American, but how spoiled can I be opting out of having a car, which I am sure would have AC? I started thinking about my first experience living in a big city riding the metro on a daily basis in Washington DC. I do remember it was air-conditioned. As one of many trying to manage the stifling heat on the tram, I asked the woman next to me if any of the trams had AC and she said, “No, but they do have heat.” Great. Can’t wait.

The weather will change sooner than later here – I know the dark and cool and rainy season is upon me, and all this fretting is only for a week or more, but for now I will stick to the bike lanes, and when it gets too hot to keep on pedaling, will look for a café to plop down for a cold beirtje and side of frites.

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