information overload

Amsterdam, Schiphol & Tourism

Schiphol Plaza 6

The picture here is from the 3rd of February this year. Apart from the theme the angle emphasises the relationship between Amsterdam, Schiphol and tourism with the air traffic control tower in the background.

As I live close to both Amsterdam and Schiphol I always pass by Schiphol. Tourists, travelers, local personnel and working people meet on Schiphol Plaza every day. The experience of hopping on and off the buses and trains is a daily routine that is strange to describe. As you move to check in, to transport vehicle to check out again you constantly move through space while avoiding bumping into other people.

During rush hours in Amsterdam central station it is a real chaos. I am so used to quickly moving around and evading people it feels instinctive to speed walk around in irregular patterns. Sometimes I would stand still for a moment. When observing how people move through the halls is always struck me how strange people sometimes look when they are in a hurry. Yet I am used to it.

The people who generally are not used to rush hours in Amsterdam central station and Schiphol are the tourists. In a mass of hurried moving people the slow-moving people stand out. The fast ones disappear like fleeting shadows and the slow ones resemble cartoons in slow motion. The looks of “where am I?” and “where do I go?” combined with looking in several directions are regular sights to behold.

The most often asked question is the classic “is this the train to Amsterdam Central?” Despite all the efforts of the NS, our Dutch railway company to inform everybody at every moment with numerous information sources in plain sight, new arrivals still ask. Adapting to crowded environments can be an overwhelming experience, especially the information overload.

I personally associate tourism mostly with getting lost and discovery. In new places getting lost and discovering new things always seems to be part of the experience. When I just moved to study in Amsterdam I felt like a tourist. Years later I feel like another shadow in the masses of moving people. The first moments between arriving and finding the way to Amsterdam may last a few seconds. Those few seconds I too was a tourist.