Thursday, May 3, 2012

From Amsterdam . . .

 As we drove through the city from Amsterdam Centraal train station (an easy trip from the airport, suggested by the hotel as a cheaper alternative to a taxi) to our hotel in Prinsengracht, the inevitable post-flight fatigue had me wondering if I would like Amsterdam. All seemed dark, and the debris left everywhere from the Queen's Birthday celebrations on the weekend had me making comparisons to other cities, which memory painted quite prettily.
 But the hotel check-in was warm, and our room was bright, clean, and welcoming. We patted ourselves on the back for having only our carry-on luggage to hoist up the 35 or so steep stairs, but thought those stairs a fair trade-off for such reasonable rates so close to the canals.
 The best travel advice regarding jet lag seems to be to get out in the sunshine as soon as possible on arrival, working to change biological body-clocks through the effect of light on the eyes. So despite it being 3 in the morning, our time, we headed out to find some lunch, see some sights, and stretch our plane-cramped legs.

And I quickly began to find Amsterdam easy to like, despite our poor choice of a Cafe -- odd sandwich fillings but at least the buns were good, the Amstel beer refreshing, the canalside seats charming enough to stop me whining.
 The photographs above are all trying to capture the canal-house architecture, which is apparently marked by the perceptible forward lean of the buildings as well as by the beam that protrudes from the gables and hosts possibilities for, if not an actual, pulley system for hauling goods from below.

Our lunchtime beer overruled any travel advice about avoiding a nap, and luckily the hotel wasn't far away. Waking up, we were both rather groggy but a neighbourhood stroll soon fixed that. Our location turned out to be even better than we'd thought, with some wonderful boutique shopping nearby, many small, interesting streets, a good variety of pleasant possibilities for dinner.  We made a note of one or two to come back to and then relaxed into crowd-watching and sight-seeing for an hour or so.

And I realized I was rather hooked by, hooked on, Amsterdam . . .


Even more so after we lucked into the last table for an early sitting at Tempo Doeloe, an Indonesian restaurant which, the guidebook told me later, is perhaps the best in the city for this cuisine.

Our very genial host, the pleasantly crowded restaurant, and, particularly, the wondrous array of intriguingly spiced dishes that make up the colonial meal known as the rijsttafel ensured that our first evening in Amsterdam charmed us both, despite our fatigue. We shared 24 or so dishes, ranging from mild to medium. We're hoping to return and amp up the heat, since Paul was deferring to my slightly more cautious palate, and I agreed that we could stand it a bit spicier. But the meal couldn't have been any more delicious!
My only complaint would be that tap water was not available, and we were required to buy bottled water -- not eco, peeps, not very eco . . .

As I write this, most of our second day in Amsterdam is winding down, after a splendid morning at the Rijksmuseum, some strolling, a shared apple pie, a yummy afternoon nap, and, very soon, a walk to a restaurant I'm really excited about, recommended by this savvy traveller and all-round bon-vivant. I'll report more later, and meanwhile leave you with a last few photos. . . .

We all love shoes, right? I "enquired within" about these beauties -- once again was confirmed in my good taste -- They're 300 euros and the podo-therapist who designs/sells them will apparently be in the shop 'round the corner Saturday afternoon. I'll probably pass, unless the drooling hasn't abated by then. That's quite a few euros . . .
But coloured shoes are hard to resist in simple, iconic shapes, no? As below. . . .
Architectural details always delight . . .
And I should warn you that there may be many bike photos coming to this blog soon. I'm fascinated by the wealth of engineering for this simple, effective transport. . .
And how easy the cyclists here make it look . . .
We may even give it a try ourselves before we leave, depending on the weather. For now, though, we're off to work up our dinner appetite. Signing off, from Amsterdam . . .

20 comments:

  1. What fantastic pictures! You've ignited a very strong desire to visit Amsterdam....

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  2. A charming post - and now you have given me another goal destination! I wonder if the lack of tap water might be related in some way to a general desire to save water (discouraging people from ordering it and wasting it). That's what I'd like to believe.

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    1. I'd love to think that but . . . I'd also like to see more cities following Paris' lead and encouraging all to drink tap water, even in restaurants. Of course, that cuts into profit margins . . .

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  3. You have captured that groggy thrill of discovering a new place perfectly here. Beautiful photos.

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  4. A wonderful glimpse of Amsterdam, seen with fresh eyes (somewhat bleary with fatigue). Looking forward to more.

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    1. definitely bleary . . . glad you enjoyed, thanks.

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  5. Such a textured and intriguing set of photos! Enjoy every rijsttafel... I'd have one a day, they are impossible to find here. Thank you!!!

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    1. Isn't it wonderful food! Did you have them in To?

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  6. Beautiful! Exciting! I don't suppose you will make it to Hester van Eeghen, will you? No matter. The city looks gorgeous in your photos.

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    1. Hoping to get to that area tomorrow . . . we shall see . . .

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  7. Eeek! Don't you think it looks better in the rain? There's too much contrast between the houses and the sky/water otherwise. I remember our first jet lagged day there and the evening meal that seemed to go on forever. It was tasty but I could barely stand sitting up!

    Scott looks at a webcam daily from one of the canal vistas and noted the Queen's Day celebrations. He couldn't believe the amount of garbage left behind. Mind you, every Sat. in Amsterdam is a holiday for Euro travelers looking for a trashy time. So Sunday in the red light district is kind of horrifying.

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    1. So dirty! Those canals seem to be such a temptation and there are few garbage cans around. You do make a good, and fair, point about the way it gets used as a trashy destination, dirty weekends, etc.

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  8. Such lovely photos. I am planning a trip to Amsterdam for early fall.When you return home please share the name of your hotel.

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    1. I will, Elizabeth, and if you want to remind me later, feel free. You'll find lots to love here. . . .

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  9. I love Amsterdam. It is a generous and relaxed place. I once had a lovely weekend there with my daughter, a rare time just the two of us instead of as part of a large, loved but clamouring family. Enjoy every moment of your stay.

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    1. Isn't it great when you get those one-on-one visits?
      I could absolutely imagine coming back here and you're right in describing it as generous and relaxed. It's easy to be here.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. That first canal photo is just beautiful.

    The colored shoes remind me a little bit of Lisa's new shoes.

    It's nice seeing all of the bicycles. We've really been getting into bicycling, including bicycling to the store for groceries.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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