Amsterdam. Everybody knows this place. Every body has seen the Iamsterdam sign board. Everybody wants to go to this place. Everybody knows this city as the city of canals, city of red light district and city of legal weed.There is so much more to it. I was guilty of those presumptions until recently.
I am spoilt by the life in the USA. Wide roads, unnecessarily huge houses, gas guzzling sedans and total lack of public transpiration has become a part of my daily life. On the contrary, Amsterdam is just the opposite. Yet, I like this city. There is something Bohemian about this city that appeals my hippie side. May be its the bicycle culture. May be its the slightly stinking canals. May be its the coffee culture. I don’t know. But there certainly is something.
Admittedly, my opinion of Amsterdam may have been swayed by the weather, since despite it being early November, the temperature hovered in the 50s and 60s for most of our trip.
We arrived at Amsterdam Centraal (Yes, Its centraal with 2 A’s)station in the afternoon. I had a hotel room reserved near Rijksmuseum. Getting there was easy by Metro.
Soon after checking in we headed out to Rijksmuseum. I am not a museum buff. But I have heard enough about Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum because I watched the TV show White Collar. One of the famous attractions here is IAmsterdam sign board. It is one of the two in town. We spent a lot of time taking super touristy pictures here.
Some more from Rijksmuseum
After a caffeinated drink, we just strolled around for a couple of hours by the canals. Amsterdam is lined with hundreds of canals, supposedly more than Venice and one can expect to spend hours walking around them with out getting bored. That is exactly what I did. Biking is an option. A very good one at that. But I am apprehensive about parking the bike at the corner of canal and street. and wandering away. All of ‘em damn intersections look the same. I wouldn’t be surprise if I couldn’t find my bike. If I were carrying one of these, I probably could.
Some of the zillion pics I took in those few hours
Its dinner time. I try to eat local ethnic cuisine when I am travelling. So Dutch herring for dinner tonight. In simple terms, Herring is raw pickled fish. complex much? Its Dutch Sushi. Ok, flame me for pseudo cultural blasphemy.
It was delicious. But then again, I am not finicky about food as long as it has some meat.
You know what they say. A trip to Amsterdam is not complete without visiting the red light district. True. Its a world of its own. It was far less dodgy than I’d imagined it would be. There were no gaudy neon lights or novelty sex-themed trinket shops to be seen. There are of course, some sex-show places that are aimed at ripping off tourists. Dont try to click to pictures of women behind those glass doors while you are in red light district. We walked around here for a while. Hopped from bar to bar, coffee shop to coffee shop and somehow made it back to the hotel at 4AM.
With all those coffee shop hoping we woke pretty late. So late that the breakfast buffet at the hotel had closed. We grabbed a falafel from road side vendor for 4 Euros (!!) and set out to Vondel Park.
There is nothing out of the ordinary here. Its a well maintained public park with lots of greenery around. And a very cool sign board. I’d probably spend a lot of time here if were living in Amsterdam. But not as tourist. I got Elings park in Santa Barbara, bruh!
We spend the next 2 hours at Heineken brewery. Yeah, Heiniken is Dutch beer and I swear to anything that is remotely unholy, Heineken is Netherlands tastes much better than it does in the USA.
It costs 18 Euros to go on brewery tour but at the end of the tour you get two or three Heinekens. Not bad at all.
A quick bite to eat and we spend next few hours visiting Anne Frank house, Van Gogh museum and Amsterdam Royal Palace. Since weren’t into art and such, we were in-n-out pretty quick.
At this point, I was totally beat. We came back to the room, had a coffee on the way, freshened up and headed back to west side of Amsterdam – Jordaan. This part of the city, right behind the palace has a lot of small cafes, good bars, coffee shops etc. I could tell this is where the locals hung out. Some good food, beer and coffee shops later (*cough cough*) I came back to my hotel room at 3AM.
I woke up pretty late next day. It was suppose to be a chill day anyway. And it certainly was. The plan was to drive to Antwerp today. But my car reservation wouldn’t start until 5 PM. So today we just walked, walked and walked. Ate some good food and clicked a few gigs of pictures.
Around 5 PM I took a metro to Centraal station and walked across the street to Sixt Car rental. Minutes later, I picked up this suckaa! A 5’er that I’d drive for the next 5 days.
Around 6 PM I started driving towards. It was a short 2 hour drive. After a belgian beer and some lasagna, it was time to call it a day.
More on Belgium in the next post. #later