First, I must say how impressed I am by the spontaneity of my readers. I've heard so many stories of people heading out of town on the last minute or doing something in town they've never done before. I just love hearing about them... which reminds me that I haven't yet finished the Amsterdam story.
On the previous episode: On a Wednesday back in June, Brigid and Friend-with-a-Truck had bad days. They decided to go to Paris for the weekend, and called Friend-who-works-for-Delta. Paris was booked, so they hopped on the next flight to Amsterdam instead. They arrived Friday morning at Schipol Airport, hopped the train to Amsterdam Centraal, and were immediately surrounded by old buildings, bicycles, and Amsterdamians.
Friend-with-a-Truck had actually been to Amsterdam once before, so he was put in charge of navigation. This was a little odd for me, as I am used to being the one with a sense of direction or more importantly, the one who doesn't fear the City. It was nice to relinquish all responsibility and trust that FWAT would not get us lost.
We meandered through old and narrow city streets, and I stared up and down at the consistent five-story buildings that lined every street. It was incredibly quiet for such a major city, the reason being that everyone rode bicycles. When a car approached, we heard the engine for minutes and were annoyed by the nerve of its loud engine and unnecessary speed.
FWAT did well with the navigation, sans map, and we only got turned around once. We passed by the Anne Frank House (Ann FrankHuis) at least five times that morning, but luckily it was a nice point of reference. The budget hotels we'd seen in a guidebook were near the Anne Frank Huis, so we eventually found one of them. They had rooms for us, and we paid up before heading out in search of lunch.
My favorite part of every vacation is usually the food. Being a vegetarian in Europe is not the easiest, but as long as I'm willing to eat dairy, it's not too difficult. Amsterdam is particularly charming for lunch because of all the canal-lined streets. Even the smallest pub puts out chairs along the canal and allows visitors to dine al fresco. With perfect 72 degree days and a light breeze, the afternoon was perfect for a brie and tomato pesto panini and a glass of local beer, like Amstel or Heineken. I could have sat by the canal for hours, just taking in the sights and the country-quiet of the city.
The best way to see the whole of Amsterdam is by canal boat, so we hopped on one of the tours. I usually hang on every word of those guided tours, but this time I just relaxed and watched the city drift by, all the while giggling to myself that we'd come to Amsterdam ... for the weekend!