On an unexpected and whirlwind trip to the city last spring, we logged twelve miles on foot in one day, soaking it all in.
A first attempted stop was the Anne Frank House. There we found a line that wrapped around the building, down the street, and spilled into a square hundreds of meters away. A shop owner said the wait was probably 3.5 hours so we decided to skip it. Later, at the Van Gogh museum, we found the line was almost as long. Apparently, in the summer, people often stand in the sun for 8 hours at either venue.
Before venturing here, we learned the hard way, one should book tickets ahead online.
We discovered that the Bloemen festival was in full swing. We admired rare tulips like “Jazz”–with slashed edges and a scent like jam–and “Cairo”–a flaming bronze that smelled like honey and cumin. Tubs full of blooms blazed along the streets and through the squares. No lines or crowds to view the flowers. They were free and available for the enjoying.
Mint tea: what a good idea. A glass of strong green leaves and boiling water topped off with a cube of sugar. Midway through our 12-km trek we stopped and imbibed. I had two.
We eyed Dutch liverwurst and tongue at our bistro but opted for savory pancakes and soup instead.
Along this street, I found a lacy curtain, bicycle and graffiti. There was something pleasant in the juxtaposition so I took a shot.
Apparently, according to the graffiti, Goede Buur, good neighbor, was also here. There’s a saying in Dutch that goes “better a good neighbor than a distant friend.” Now that makes sense.
“Beter een goede buur dan een verre vriend.”
But Amsterdam Goede, who are you? Where are you?
Back home in Milan, I know who the Goedes here are.
We became embroiled in a flash mob pillow fight in the afternoon. A Facebook page had summoned most of the combatants. We happened by fortuitously.
By 3 pm, feathers and foam carpeted the platz–from the Royal Palace and Madame Tussaud’s to the National Monument and the upscale De Bijenkorf department store.
We pulled fluff from our hair and spat it from our mouths. Later I found some had wormed its way into my underclothes.
We almost got mowed down several times by the cyclists. Amsterdammer cyclists are ubiquitous and ruthless! On the other hand, I suppose that as dawdlers and gawkers, stopping to take pictures or to check our map, we were clueless and annoying.
What’s a trip to Amsterdam without a tour of the red light district? We joined the phalanxes of voyeurs and perfected the art of surreptitious photography. In this shot, I’ve obscured the ladies’ faces purposefully.
We didn’t make it inside this museum, either, but the outside was impressive.
The next morning, on our way back to the airport, a cabdriver said that since the attacks in Paris and Brussels, the flow of tourists to Amsterdam has increased. We nodded. We believed it. We’d experienced it first hand.
Next time, perhaps, we’ll be able to get inside somewhere to see some of the artwork because we will book ahead. This time we found adventure along the streets.
Amsterdam, we’ll be back.