In episode 1 of Frank vs. Europe we saw our dashingly handsome — and surprisingly short — hero fly into The Netherlands on the wings of a ghastly metal, time-warping bird, and tour the Land of Neder with his powerful side kick, Piti — who has the gift of an inner google. In today’s episode we discover that Piti is the Kato to Frank’s Green Hornet.
So, where we left off last time was this whole, go out for beers thing. You see, Frank and the Gang split up. Happy Pants McGee had to go do businessy things with people wearing the fancy pants and the shiny shoes. We’ve also Sniffles Magoo who swears to be sick with a new plague, and Mr Tokerson, who I’d swear has a punchcard at a coffeeshop. Tokerson and Sniffles decide to go their own separate way. Happy Pants is out doing things. That leaves Frank. To wrap up his presentation. So we thought.
The Power of an Inner Google
I have a pretty good sense of direction. In most places, like Texas. Or the midwest. Paris was a city grid that I learned pretty well in a week. Columbus I know pretty well. Dallas, St. Louis… I can manage navigating these places. Because I was raised in the midwest.
You see, when you live in a place as awful and desolate as the midwest, you don’t have landmarks to guide you, so you get a strong sense of North, South, East, and West. That’s because the alternative is to keep going until you no longer see corn — which will get you in either Kentucky or Canada. Hillbillies and Canadians are a strong incentive to develop that inner sense of direction. I am used to relying on my inner sense of direction to get to places. My inner google is strong in these places.
So, I made it back to the hotel in a decent amount of time. It was only in the exact opposite place that I’d expected it to be, but, whatever. I’m tired, Amsterdam is weird. Screw it; it’s time to work on the presentation.
The Weakness of an Outer Google
Then I get a text from the gang. Happy Pants McGee, Mr Tokerson, and Sniffles Magoo are out at a restaurant. I just need to meet them up at the Apple Store. Easy enough, Tokerson tells me to take Tram 5 to LeiderspegelUnderGleetenGloutenGloben or somethingorother.
So, I google how to get to the tram.
Do You know where You are right now?
If there’s more than one hotel in your city, you should know this ahead of time. You should especially know this when you google a thing like, “directions for blah blah hotel to blah blah train station.” Because if you don’t, you will go in the wrong way. Forever. It’ll be like God’s consultants for hell were Sysyphus and Sartre: Hell is other Dutch people, again, and again, and again and again and Amsterdamit I just made four left turns and I’m not back where I started!
So, googling from the wrong hotel was a mistake. Week-and-a-half older Frank knows this. Week-and-a-half-ago Frank did not.
Amsterdam Navigation for Dummies
If this book ever gets written, the immigrant population in Amsterdam will drop to zero. I swear to God all of Amsterdam’s immigrants are just people who couldn’t find their way out.
There’s some challenges finding your way about Amsterdam.
- The city doesn’t have as much a grid as a web. Really. Look at it on a map. It all radiates out like a half semi-circle of hate.
- Because of the wheel spoke grid, walking south long enough gets you north
- If you’ve learned to rely on the sun, or the weather, or your own inner sense of north, to get where you’re going, you are doomed in Amsterdam
- In America, we put street signs on poles. Then we stick those poles in the ground. Next to the street.
- In Amsterdam, they put street signs on buildings.
- In Amsterdam, if you see a pole, near a street, with signs pointing in directions, you should understand this as a list of what you’ll see when you get there.
Points five and six are the kicker. In Europe, apparently, a pole with signs on a street is an indicator of destination. In America, this is an indicator of location. This fact must reveal some sort of profoundly deep deviation of core thought processes between our cultures. I don’t know exactly what this revelation is…but it explains a lot about why we’re different. It also explains why not a damned one of the streets was on my map.
This is a thing. That I said. A lot. It’s not the only thing I said, there were others. I do not apologize for them. You would have said them, too.
But suffice to say, I never got to eat dinner. I walked for three hours. It starts with a crucial error that I made in looking up how to get to the Tram Station. I should have just asked. But instead I googled it, from a wrong starting point, and doomed myself from ever getting there.
This is where it’s important to mention another crucial fact: If you have Sprint, and you have an Android phone, it will not work. It will instead, laugh in your dumb face for going to Europe. Since I signed up for the “unlimited dumbface plan” with Sprint, I had no way of knowing where I was going.
Amsterdam loves it some WiFi, though. Just about everywhere you go has free WiFi. That makes it somewhat kind of helpful when you’re trying to navigate. Except, of course, when you’re navigating in the WiFi-forbidden-because-we-hate-you zone. In which case, it sucks.
Looking at one of the two maps I had with me did not help. Because street signs are a thing I had not yet figured out. So, I mainly relied on my Inner Google, which apparently also had a WiFi dependency.
One of the members of my crew texted me (on a phone I bought in Amsterdam) asking for updates as to where I was. As he was the expert on Amsterdam, I was hoping for guidance. What I got was, “IDK man, ask someone”. When you’re in a residential neighborhood in the far south of a city in a foreign country, this is hard to do.
So… After 1.5 hours of looking for the crew, I gave up. I decided to walk home. That was when I learned a truth that another visitor to Amsterdam confirmed:
When in Amsterdam, you can only walk a straight line if you’re drunk
I wasn’t drunk. I wanted to drink. But I couldn’t. Because I couldn’t find the place. Therefore, I have no hope. It took three homeless Amsterdamers selling magazines to give me enough instruction to finally find my way home.
On the way, I passed by the place where we were supposed to meet.
Amsterdam: 1; Frank: 0
Let’s keep in mind that all I wanted was a quick bite to eat before heading back to a hotel room to work on my presentation. The plan was to eat. spend two hours on the presentation, go to bed at a decent hour. Those three hours got blown on getting back to home base.
So, drinkless, and foodless, I returned to my hotel room to put the finishing touches on my presentation. An expected two hours later, at 2:00am, I went to bed.