What do you do when the tram and bus lines you use on a daily basis are cut off, re-routed or just plain MIA? While panic is the first thought that comes to mind, I suggest resorting to the use of the good old-fashioned paper map. Road construction projects in and around the center of Amsterdam have been many and frequent since we arrived in late summer and show no signs of stopping. We are living in a boot camp of transportation hell – ok, maybe purgatory. And we don’t even drive.
I know we are not the only inhabitants annoyed and frustrated with the diversion of transport lines here in the ‘dam, but at least the ‘dammers know their way around, at least a little better than us newbie expats. Since the mobile app 9292 was incorrect in its advice yesterday as I waited too long for a bus that never showed, I went home and got out the trusty paper map. Studying the area where I needed to be, and avoiding the area closed down to all traffic including pedestrians, I realized that I could walk to my destination in less than a half hour – the time I waited for my bus that did not come. While I could have biked, it was raining and the congestion of bikers was so frightening, I decided I would do best on foot.
I kind of know my way around this city now, but I don’t necessarily know which lines pick up and drop off at destinations unless I check my apps. But this handy paper map has the big city picture on it complete with the tramline color coded routes.Walking merrily and hurriedly on my way with trusty map in my raincoat pocket, I smiled and chuckled to myself as I saw huddled masses crowded under the bus and tram stop shelters waiting for that ride that was either not going to show or be extremely late. Cars stuck in grid-lock and stationary for blocks crowded the thoroughfares and blocked crosswalks. As I squished through the line of cars, I saw faces of mad angry frustrated drivers waiting to inch forward.
The diversions will last for an entire week. Last evening I witnessed the entire Van Baerlestraat lined with cars on each side headlights glaring in the rain and trams stuck waiting to move during rush hour. Cars were pulling up from side streets trying to creep into the thoroughfare blocking the bike lanes. Those usual fast flowing paths were impeded. Bikers were pissed, putting it bluntly. I learned some new Dutch swear words on my walk to dinner. The good news is, I guess, is that my language skills are improving.