Amsterdam – The Adventure Overview
Whew. I’m back from a week in the Netherlands. I got to spend three days sight-seeing in Amsterdam before heading south for business. With travel companion, Ryan Somma, we ended up packing in a lot of stuff into a three day visit to the city. It is going to take me a while to parse through the photos and already I tally up at least eight different blog posts I could do. But I figure it would be best to start off with a overview/summary.
Thursday afternoon, I dropped the dogs off the boarder and we made our way to the airport. In DC, we boarded a large Boeing 777 and we were off.
Seven hours later, between 6-7 AM local time, we landed in Amsterdam, got our luggage and boarded a train. As the early morning views whizzed by, Ryan observed, “There is a surprising lack of logos.”
I believe I replied with something about as enthusiastic as “Mmpf.”
We got off at the Centraal Station. I was well aware that Amsterdam was a bike-centric city. I had been there briefly in 1995 and seen some impressive pictures from Tony Airaghi. Even with that preparation, when one gets off the Centraal Station and sees the mass of bicycles parked outside, the view is breathtaking.
We dropped the luggage off at the hotel, snagged some maps from the concierge and headed out to Anne Frank’s house. Along the way, we got to see plenty of the canals and house boats.
The Anne Frank Huis was a good museum with moving testimonials and quotes. I had been there once before in 1995, but this time I had a new interest– The horse chestnut tree! While Anne and her family hid for more than two years, one of her few glimpses of nature was a horse chestnut tree outside her window. That tree is quite ill right now, but efforts are in play to keep it alive. Of course, there are no photographs permitted inside the house, but I thought I would outsmart the system.
“Let’s just walk around the block and take a picture from the street!” I told Ryan.
Little did we know, this tree is in a sequestered courtyard surrounded by buildings, so there was no view from the street.
Luckily, the Anne Frank House has a web cam, so I have the ability to see the tree whenever I want from the comfort of my own home.
After Anne Frank’s house, weary Somma and I visited the Dam, the historical center of the city. At the Dam, some street vendors were dressed up as Grim Reapers and Batman.
After that, we hit a local cafe for some lunch, stopped by a Hologram store and finally returned to our hotel for a well needed nap.
In the evening, we woke up and explored the city at night.
We had supper at an absolutely delicious India restaurant and got our first exposure to the famous Red Light District (Sorry, it is illegal to take pictures of the renowned Window Ladies)
Saturday was NEMO Science Center day! We woke up late, had an English Breakfast and then headed straight to the boat-shaped center. Although the museum is targeted for children, I found myself thoroughly engrossed with the displays. I was most impressed with the frank and uncensored information about sex that was available in a museum…for children (more on that later). I also enjoyed the Chain Reaction presentations they did throughout the day.
After a full day at NEMO, we saw a little more of the city, visited another Hologram store, we shared another great supper at an Argentinian Steak house and once again got to stroll through Red Light District on the way back to the hotel.
We closed the evening with getting introduced to the BBC show, Outnumbered. We saw the wedding episode. Be on the lookout for it. It’s rather hilarious.
Sunday was full of unexpectancies. We set out to see Energetica, an energy museum we read about in the Fall 2008 issue of an Amsterdam tourist guide. Our hotel concierge gave us directions to the museum. Yet, when we finally arrived, we were greeted by a sign announcing the museum was closing in November of 2007… over a year ago!
But never fear– we still saw a lot on this particular Sunday. We got our first introduction to a curious Dutch Christmas custom. We got to see the lovely Weinheim Park and a thoughtful Auschwitz Memorial. And probably my absolute favorite part of the entire trip– the Botanical Gardens. They are INCREDIBLE. More on each of those activities later. And of course, along the way, we got to see more of the city.
After that day was done, we took a train back to the airport and picked up a rental car. We were off to our next destination– Bergen op Zoom.
Only… with a complication. I…uh…. I sort of, kind of, left the driving directions at home. After some amount of stress, further aggravated by me not knowing how to turn the car on (you have to put the brake on before you turn the key), it was Somma’s web-enabled Cingular phone to the rescue. He pulled up Google maps and we managed to find our way.
More pictures of my Amsterdam trip are available on my Flickr site.
And never fear– there are many, many more Amsterdam posts to come. 🙂