Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stage Two: Rotterdam Centraal

Though we're on the constant look-out for people with three arms, the train has red velvet seats and small tables. It's classy. It's also crowded. Lena looks exhausted and so am I, although we slept for twelve hours.

I'd like to say that Rotterdam greets us with open arms, but the station is under construction. Tape and machines every. It's cold. Makeshift corridors point us to the metro, the tram, the other tracks. Where are we going?

Our two-hour metro card fails to work after half an hour. The machine won't let us buy new ones. The only people down here are two sketchy men who catcall at the girls. Luckily, Santa appears. Literally. A long white beard and a jolly spirit. He issues us new cards.

By the time we roll our luggage into Ahoy, the place looks like it's been abandoned for the night. We find the press center, somehow. We are told to run to the bus to the hostel, or otherwise we'll be stuck there for a long time.

We board the bus packed with orange pants and orange-and-white jackets. Dutch fills the air. The girl and guy in front of us talk in English about articles in Spanish versus articles in German. Later that week I see them holding hands. Linguistics is love.

The hostel is new and quite clean.

It is also filled with eighteen-year-old volunteers boozing up and running around at night. Shades of Southampton? Or any college? They run, they hit walls, they laugh.
I fall asleep at midnight and wake up at 2:30 am. I am wide awake. I write by the light of my phone. I do that whole tense-and-relax-each-muscle thing that has, in fact, never worked for me. By the time 6:30 am arrives, I'm awake to greet it.

Our first day at the arena is slightly disorganized but straightforward. Danielle gives us a tour just as a Frenchman tears his Achilles on floor. Lena goes to "work."

Meanwhile, I discover the training halls. 

I'd rather stay there than watch men from unknown countries compete. But by 3:00, I don't want to do anything besides hide at the hostel and sleep.

I cry a little and manage to switch my shift with Bart, whom I haven't actually met yet. Lena and I take the shuttle back to the hostel, where we watch "The Office" on her iPhone and fall asleep at 8:30. I wake up at 5:45. I am ready. I will not cry today.

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