Saturday, June 25, 2005

Coffee Shops and Canals

Certainly most people's first impression of Amsterdam. (Note: 'coffee shops' are what the legal marijuana shops are called) In our two days in the heart of Holland we certainly saw plenty of both. The humorous part was walking past the coffee shops that were truly coffee shops (one even going so far as to put up the sign NO DRUGS in their front window). Of course why hit the coffee shops when you can just grow it at home?

All in all a busy time in Amsterdam; despite Becca finding us a good last minute hotel price, it was still an expensive place to be (of course Scandanavia is bound to be even more expensive) so time was limited. However we made good use of our time, taking Tuesday to visit the home of my favorite football club Ajax (where we got a chance to see the stadium, tour the facilities, and shop at the store). In the afternoon we walked through the red light district and did some catching up on email.

We spent the evening walking through the Anne Frank House and taking in the exhibits, which is a must for anyone making the trip to Amsterdam. To see the tiny space that eight people lived in for over two years hiding from the Nazis during the heart of WWII is both inspiring (because they were able to survive) and heart breaking (they were found approximately seven months before the war ended with only Anne's father Otto suriving the concentration camps). All in all a very emotional and life affirming visit.

Dinner was an experience all to itself. Becca is going to write about it separately so I'll let her fill in the details. Wednesday was spent visiting the Rijksmuseum (home of many Rembrandts, Vermeers and Becca's new favorite artist Gerard ter Borch) and just walking around the Jordaan neighborhood enjoying the beautiful weather and a pint or two in one of the many open air cafes.

All in all our time in Amsterdam was enjoyable. I would liken the city to a much more cultural version of New Orleans. There are certainly plenty of people looking to party (on our walk to the hotel I thought I'd walked into a giant fraternity/sorority mixer) and people staying in the tourist center will find that. However a 5-10 minute walk away is home to a number of great neighborhoods (esp. the Jordaan), some wonderful history and a group of people who are laid back and very friendly. All in all an enjoyable experience and just about the right amount of time in town.

Now we're off to Copenhagen on this bad boy...


Anonymous said...

I loved your Amsterdam pictures, it's been years since I've been there, but I recognized a lot of the places. Especially the log cabin boat on the canal! Nice shot of the Vermeer (my favorite artist by the way).

Chelle and I also have that same shot of the giant public chess board. I swear the same people are playing in our picture! :-)

Don't suppose there was a large trailer/cart selling pastries and such on the far side of the Rijksmuseum, was there? They make the best choc. covered waffles ever!!!

Anonymous said...

Those chocolate covered waffles and the french fries cooked in lard and served in a paper cone... yummy! It's a good thing I got the flu on that trip or I would have come home 30 pounds heavier then we left.

Good thing you two are walking your way around Europe... much easier to justify lots of yummy food.