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Published: July 18th 2019
We arrived in Amsterdam late afternoon after a tedious ride on the train from Paris. As mentioned in a previous post the hardest thing to deal with on a train is your luggage. Tom and I were close to the last to board and I was pushing my heavy large piece while carrying three other carry-on pieces down a narrow aisle. Tom was behind me with his heavy piece, a carry-on and his tennis bag. There was no room in the baggage compartment at the beginning of the train so we were pushing the luggage to the other end. Thank God people took pity on us. A gentlemen got up from his seat in front of me, grabbed my large piece and found a spot for it in the rear compartment. When we got to our seats which were window seats facing each other there were 2 young French woman sitting on the aisle. Each one got up offered to help by taking hold of my carry-one pieces and hoisted them into the overhead luggage rack. Whew...............that was stressful but now we had 3 to chill before Amsterdam. It was a pleasant trip.
it was easy to get a cab and we were only 10 minutes from the train station. Our hotel is the Estherea which sits sweetly on a canal and is, as promised, centrally located and close to everything. In Paris we stayed at the ultra modern Hyatt Regency which was equipped with every modern convenience imaginable which we savored after our Spartan London Flat, there was no shortage of towel at the Hyatt.
The Estherea recalls the grand days of the 19th century and early 20th century when elegance was in vogue. We have large shiny chandeliers, flowery wallpaper everywhere, polished wooden banisters and wall moldings that are actually plaster that has been molded to the surface and carved into the beautiful designs of La Belle Epoch. The only give away that we are really in the 21st century is the Nespresso Machine and acrylic/metal elevator.
We dropped our luggage and decided to go out and see the town that lies between the many canals that wind their way around it. So many bridges and so many narrow walkways. The back of your minds says "hmmmm sort of like Venice??"
The reality is no...... the only similarity would be the canals. The vibe and views of Amsterdam are completely different, Like a youthful, let's dance the day away upbeat vibe.
Where Venice is an ancient old town slowing eroding it's way back down into the sea from whence it came, Amsterdam is an ancient old town who's medieval buildings are new looking and completely refreshed. Only the uneven cobble stone streets beneath your feet are the constant reminder of how old this City really is. As for above ground the Dutch have found a way to make buildings from the 14th and 15th centuries look like the classic historic buildings they are but also fresh crisp and modern at the same time. I notice that most buildings in Amsterdam are brick. Very different from Paris whose buildings are mostly limestone.
Now the bikes.........OMG the bikes. They come at you from every direction and there are so many different types of bicycles. I saw family bikes where a Mother had a seat in front AND a seat in the back riding with 2 kids effortlessly through the streets. We knew bicycles
were king of the road in Amsterdam BUT failed to realize that, like in California, the people riding them don't believe they need to stop for anyone or anything. I'm just saying if I'm crossing the street because the little man on the signal is GREEN I shouldn't have to worry about being run over by a bike. I've had about 10 near misses in less than 24 hours. The funny thing is that the cyclists ring their little bells to make you jump out of their way. That's all you hear around this town......Brrring brrring brrring, a cheesy little sound that strikes fear into the heart of the lowly pedestrian. Now it doesn't matter where the sound is coming from I just jump into the air and hop for the best. They never even slow down they just sneer at you as they are speeding past you.
I must say the roads are well designed for the traffic. The streets actually have a lane for cars and a completely separate narrower lane for bikes. Each street has a huge median big enough for people to park their bikes.
Much to see here and we are taking it at a slow pace.
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