Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Day One

Again, we took the train. Again, it was a little weird how little security or ticket-checking there was. We arrived in Amsterdam in the afternoon, eventually figured out how to use the tram system to get fairly close to our little hotel (the Owl). We walked there, checked in, were amused at the comical tininess of the elevator, and were alarmed at the total lack of air conditioning despite the mugginess (turned out OK with cool nights and open windows).

We walked around somewhat aimlessly looking for beer and/or dinner. We quickly noticed that there was a very recognizable aroma that seemed to be characteristic of Amsterdam, in little pockets in many places, often centered in front of or near coffee shops. We were amazed at the quantity of bicycles, the complexity of the crosswalk signals (I honestly have no idea how they’re supposed to work), and the fact that apparently the cops have no problem tearing down the sidewalks with lights and sirens blazing, and trusting to pedestrians to get the fuck out of the way.

We eventually settled on a collection of places around a square that seemed to have joined together to fill the square with seating, umbrellas, and heaters. We got a Dutch sampler plate and some local beer. Then we wandered around some more, looking at shop fronts and canals and houseboats.

Day Two

Breakfast at the hotel (nothing special, but not bad). We rented bicycles from the hotel, because everything we planned to see was a bikable distance (walkable, but long) from us, and the tram seemed slow and cumbersome. Biking is also non-trivial — navigating, trying to understand traffic, and watching out for the many exciting disturbances that can disrupt a bicycle. We went to an area near the Rijksmuseum where the “I Amsterdam” letters are, took pictures with them, got tickets for a canal boat tour and the Van Gogh museum and Moco, had a snack and wandered around the park area nearby, and then went to see the Banksy and Salvador Dali exhibits. They were neat.

From there, we went to Food Hallen, what appeared to be a converted warehouse filled with upscale eateries. We had four different things for lunch, followed by fancy pastries. It was very good. Then we discovered a flat tire on one of the bikes and walked back to the hotel to replace it.

Then we rode out to Brouwerij ‘t IJ for beer and snacks. It was nice. Then we rode to the Delirium Cafe for beer and snacks. It was nice. Then we rode to boat canal tour. This was also fun. The guy operating the boat was good-natured and friendly (which I’m sure is a requirement for the job). The tour came with two free drinks (rose, white wine, Amstel, and Heineken were available). He immediately said, “Drink as much as you like. I don’t care.”

From there, we went to De Bekeerde Suster, another brewery. We had good but not exciting dinner, and good beer. We wandered around some more and headed back to the hotel to sleep.

Day Three

Breakfast at the hotel again (it was convenient and we thought it was free). Primary transportation for the day was bicicles again. We went to the Van Gogh Museum, which was very cool, but we weren’t allowed to take any pictures. I don’t know much about art, but it’s interesting to see how skilled and talented people construct pictures from colored paste.

From there, we went to a nearby parkish area strewn with various outdoor sculptures. It was something called Artzuid. This was not as impressive, but some of the sculptures were pretty interesting.

Then we went someplace for dutch pancakes. It was very small, and there was a line, but the pancakes were very tasty. We then went to some black licorice shop that was recently featured on some food or cooking channel.

We then found an outdoor market somewhere, which had pickled herring (haring, much better than the first time) and fried cod (kibbeling). Then we stopped at a bar called Gollem and shared a bottle of Rodenbach Alexander while T Dog wandered nearby taking pictures.

Finally, we rode to Brouwerij Prael, where we were meeting with Frans, a Dutch friend who used to work for a different subsidiary of my parent company and spent a year at my company. He met us at the brewery for a beer (we had already finished the bitterballen), then we walked to his choice of Indonesian restaurant. We went all out on the dinner, getting something called “rijsttaffel”, which ended up being something like 50 different dishes, all of which were very good.

Then Frans walked us around the Red Light District (on a Friday evening, it was pretty hectic), also through some quieter neighborhoods. He tried to teach me how to pronounce a little bit of Dutch, which is hard, again due to unfamiliar sounds.

We parted ways, and when we rode our bikes back to the hotel, it seemed crazy. At least one square that we went to either had a major party or some kind of demonstration going on — people were running and screaming, some flares were burning. It made me really uncomfortable.

Conclusion

We left the next day. We took a bus to the airport and wandered forever before finding where we needed to go, and found some more interesting stuff to eat and a few more things to bring home.

Overall, I think I enjoyed Brussels the most again. There were still so many things we skipped in both London and Amsterdam, not to mention that big city England and Netherlands (and Belgium) is certainly not the whole story — so there’s plenty more I’d still like to see.

I’m really glad Les and D were able to take care of the kids for us while we gallivanted. This sort of trip would have just been unpleasant if we had to spend all our time looking for things the kids wanted, and had to go to bed at their bedtime, and otherwise had to live within the limitations of parenthood.

But it was really nice to see the kids again when we got back. And it was actually nice to get back into the regular daily routine, as well.

Posted by snaotheus

6 comments

Ah, the Van Gogh museum. I swoon.

Now I’m just laughing.

Aww, I liked the scowly face. Now you’re just making fun of poor Chilkoot.

I wasn’t making fun. He’s like my spirit animal in that picture.

Awwww. That’s kinda sweet. I know that feeling. Seems like my entire life has been that kind of face-plant.

But I still like the scowly face, even better than the beer shot.

Now, *that’s* my boy! ;D

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