Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Amsterdam, Days 1 and 2

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here I am, on the fourth day of my European adventure, and I am just now beginning to write about it. There is really no excuse for this delay, as I am a veritable Charlotte in the evenings (Scarlett Johannsen's character in Lost in Translation, minus the Bill Murray figure of course!) when my SH is out and about with the company men and women, probably being treated to fabulous dinners while I dine alone on wiener schnitzel and water. Don't pity me, though! I really am having a wonderful time. Exploring a city alone is an invigorating experience, and it is nothing short of luxurious to be able to sit at an outdoor cafe and quietly read through lunch or dinner, after having seen unusual and beautiful sights.

Oh my, I've gotten terribly off track. This post is meant to be about our brief whirlwind time in the absolutely lovely city of Amsterdam. By the way, I've noticed that I use the word "lovely" QUITE frequently. There's nothing to be done about it, I'm inextricably attached to the word. And it is a perfect word to use when describing Amsterdam, so I won't apologize any longer!

We arrived around 8:30 am, but by the time we had taken the train into the city, purchased our train tickets to Germany for the next day, and ridden our tram to the hotel, it was much closer to 11. We quickly tossed our bags into our tiny but perfectly sufficient, room and headed out to explore.

I've decided not to give a play by play of every day of our trip, but instead just include a few of my favorite pictures in every post, with a line or two about what I have seen and done. It would take me forever to write a proper travel diary! My opening picture is a simple view of the canals near the Waterlooplein area. It was an extremely short walk form our hotel, even though we weren't centrally located. One of the best things about Amsterdam is its sheer accessibility-we walked virtually everywhere, and only took the trams a few times, and they probably weren't necessary. Speaking of the trams though, they were clean, fast, and very regular. All in all, a great transportation experience.

We sat outside and relaxed a bit in Rembrandtplein, Rembrandt square. My SH cutely referred to it as Remembrandt square. Not a big art fan, that guy. You can see the back of the statue erected in honor of the painter in the center of the picture.

I loved the fresh flowers on our table. Not tulips, you'll notice, but still, a very nice touch.

After traipsing about the city for the afternoon and attempting to explore a good bit of each canal "ring", we stopped at this cafe for coffee. You'll note, this was NOT a "coffee shop"! I have not the foggiest idea what the majority of that sign says, except for the coffee and apple tart bit at the bottom. For some reason I'm quite attached to this picture-it is evidence of our straying from the "beaten path."

We ate dinner in a great little cafe overlooking the canal in the Prinsengracht area. The food was delicious, and we were surrounded by locals, which I felt was a big plus. The waitress immediately began speaking to us in Dutch, so we obviously looked like we belonged!

Alas, we were unable to visit either the Anne Frank Haus or the Van Gogh museum. There were approximately 1,000,000 people waiting in line at both locations. I really hope that I'm able to go back someday, preferably not at the absolute height of tourist season, because I know they would be very worthwhile.

In case you're wondering, we did stroll through some of the, ahem, less savory parts of the city. We stumbled down a random path, I promise!

Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Bonn are up next!

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