I’ve just heard that Multiply will be shutting down soon, which means all of our old profiles will disappear. Along with it will go photos and blog posts we may have uploaded during the pre-Facebook years. So today, I decided to go through the old site and see if there’s anything worth saving. I found a few photos I no longer had. Probably lost them to my old computer. I also found a few blog entries or lines that I’d like to preserve a little while longer. This is one of them…
“From way up on your cloud, where you’ve been hiding out. Are you getting somewhere? Or did you get lost in Amsterdam?”
– Amsterdam, Guster (2003)
On the first of June, 2010, I left Manila and headed for Amsterdam with some of my favourite people in the world! This was a quick stop before our month long adventure in Spain, and it was well worth it!
We arrived at Schipol airport in the evening of the 1st. As soon as we checked into our hotel on Jan Luyken St, we began exploring the city. The first thing I can say about Amsterdam is that it’s beautiful. The architecture is quaint, the roads are quaint, the colors are pretty, the people are friendly (and pretty), and there’s a certain happiness in the air.
Like Manila, Amsterdam is a melting pot of cultures, which I loved and appreciated. It doesn’t matter where you’re from here. In fact, they like the unusual. Our first dinner was at a Moroccan restaurant where they had some excellent tangine! I wish I could have stayed longer at the place or be able to write about the restaurant a bit more, but the fact is that we were dead tired and needed our beds.
The next day, we set out early to explore the neighborhood we were in and get some breakfast. We stopped by a bakery for some bread and excellent coffee. It was museum day for me, which really is one of my versions of heaven. The Van Gogh museum was everything I thought it would be and more! I’ve always been fascinated by Van Gogh’s life, and I’ve always loved his work, so standing there and going through 4 floors of Van Gogh was just amazing! Even more amazing (and lucky) was that there was a traveling Gaugin exhibit in the Van Gogh museum! Oh…heaven indeed! I felt like I won the lottery!
When you exit the Van Gogh museum, you will see the Rijksmuseum on your right. I made a beeline for this straight after. The museum was mostly closed due to renovation, but several floors were open! The museum decided to feature the best of each of their collections in a few floors. A friend who lives in Amsterdam lovingly called it “The Rijks greatest hits tour” since you get to see what most people go to see anyway. I got lost among the Rembrandts wishing I was an eighth as talented as the old master.
The rest of the day was spent going to shops, trying out new food and just getting to know the lay out of the city, and seeing what Amsterdam is like at night. One of the best things about Amsterdam is that it’s very walkable. If you have a good set of legs and a strong pair of lungs, you’re ready to go anywhere and do anything!
The day after museum day, we took a bike tour out of the city in the morning. This bike tour took us to see an old windmill, the Rembrandt farm (where they still make clogs and cheese the way they did 600 years ago–free cheese tasting!), and through Amsterdam’s countryside. It was nice to see a different side of the city. It was even nicer to see that the people have kept up with the traditions of Calvinism and keep their windows open or curtain free so you can look straight inside! Yup, almost anywhere you go, you can look into someone’s house. It shows that they have nothing to hide or are leading honest lives. Strange and new to me, but perfectly normal for them.
That afternoon, we took another tour, Amsterdam’s canals. We rented an electric boat and navigated through the canals ourselves. Pretty groovy. This was Amsterdam in the summer and so lots of people with boats were going through the canals as well. Some were having boat parties, some were just using their boat to visit a friend, and others just felt like taking a spin. The canal tour is another great way to see the city. You end up seeing things you probably didn’t feel like walking to or just a different perspective of the city in general.
The day of our bike and canal tours was our last full day in Amsterdam. So we took advantage while we could and went to get some Indonesian food… GOOD CALL. Having had Indonesia as a colony, Amsterdam’s Indonesian cuisine was excellent! Absolutely excellent! It was the most silent meal we had throughout our trip, mainly because we were so busy eating! I think it may have been the best Indonesian food I’ve ever had, and I live in Asia!
Our final day in Amsterdam was just some last minute stops and a trip to the airport. It was a short trip. Even if we got to do several things, I felt bad having to go. Like the song, I did get lost in Amsterdam. It captured a piece of my hear. I’ll have to go get that piece back one day.
**If you are flying to Europe, and have to stop over at Schipol, find a way to extend your stopover time so you can stay in Amsterdam a few days. It will be worth the trip!
**Try Amsterdam’s pancakes. They are sooo much better than pancakes anywhere else in the world! Though we heard from a local that pancakes in Amsterdam are what fried rice is to China, we were still shocked at how yummy a pancake could be!
**Remember to eat:
– smoked eel! This is a delicacy in The Netherlands, and it is absolutely delicious.
– stroopwafel! An delicious treat for all the caramel lovers. This snack/coffee cookie never expires! Gotta love that!
To take bike tours in Amsterdam, check out: http://www.joyridetours.nl/
They will also tell you where you can get boat tours or boat rides.