I fell in love with Amsterdam. Period. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
Finally catching up with the second leg of our European vacation -- not to be confused with Chevy Chase's film! This is a series of five or six posts about the Netherlands -- I hope you'll be as captivated as I was! (NOTE: Some of the photos aren't quite fitting the blogger template -- they're a little wide. So click on them to see full screen.)
We started out with a bit of a panic -- we weren't sure if we'd be sitting in the rumble seat of the train or in a soft seat.
Well, after a short ride with the luggage, we ended up in a comfy, cozy seat and the three-hour trip from Paris was a breeze.
We arrived and met our hosts -- blogger Tara Bradford and her husband David -- at the train station. (I had forgotten the landmark where Tara had said to meet, so there was a bit of a panic, but all was well. We headed off to Tara's lovely home and then made a trip to the grocery store with David.
I'd never seen so much cheese! And the store was gorgeous!
I loved the cabinets for the cold and frozen food -- full length glass doors!
After a lovely dinner and a long chat, we settled in for the night and hit Amsterdam the next day!
I can't do it justice. The canals are amazing and everywhere.
And Rick was in seventh heaven with all the bikes.
Everyone in Holland rides a bike, I think. Bikes have wide, smooth lanes and you'll see them with babies on board, baskets of shopping goods and more.
There is nothing shy about the Dutch. There are portapotties (for men, at least) on the streets! (It dawned on me later that these MAY have been set up in advance for Queen's Day, but I'm not certain. Anyone know for sure?)
Then there was the flower market! Oh, what beauty!
Gorgeous flowers were everywhere.
Rick spent some time finding nasturtium seeds (which, I am pleased to say, have finally bloomed!)
I would have loved to take home bulbs, but I was pretty sure that wouldn't fly!
After a concert and museum-going (a future post) we walked throughout the town and sat by one of the canals.
Well, I sat. Rick took a nap!
We also enjoyed the local brew -- Heineken...
...and a tasty lunch! I had pannenkock spec (which was a Dutch pancake with bacon.)
And more flowers.
Truly, though the skies were gray, Amsterdam was anything but colorless.
And I loved it all!
Next -- The Concertgebouw -- and the good thing about not buying tickets early!
1) Don't lose the paper that says where you will meet your hosts at the train station until you've committed it to memory. It just isn't nice.
2) The Dutch -- or at least most of them -- speak English and are very friendly and helpful.
3) Try to find your way to a local grocery store if you have the opportunity. The food differences are fascinating (and even inexpensive chocolate bars beat Snickers hands down!)
4) Amsterdam has a wonderful tram system and is easy to manipulate. But it's also a lovely city for walking. Wear comfy shoes -- and watch out for bikes!