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Published: September 30th 2017
After a long train ride, it was time for a chocolate break.
Geo: 52.3738, 4.89095
Woke up and grabbed a hot chocolate before heading to the grocery store. I gotta admit - I just like going to grocery stores when I travel. They had a self-serve bread slicer - for some strange reason I found this interesting. Perhaps it was the lack of nutrients the past few days. Tto rectify this, I bought a bottle of orange/kiwi juice and coconut yogurt for now and a Chimay beer for the train ride to Amsterdam. Ate the yogurt back at the hostel with some leftover trail mix from a recent Montana ski trip. The coconut yogurt was WAY better in Italy. Mmmmm ... Italian yogurt ...
Took forever to check out of the hostel. Good thing I gave myself extra time to walk to the train station. Also turned out that the station was closer than I thought. I said goodbye to the girls and I was off. Bought a sandwich with egg, lettuce, tomato, and a fried meat-loaf thingy. The meat was mushy but flavourful. Not bad. Also had a pain au chocolat - it was a little burned but still alright. I accidentally sprayed myself with the beer when I opened it. Instead
Panties lying on a random stairwell .... what happens in a hostel, STAYS in a hostel. If only these things would happen to me when I stay in a hostel!
of the stale urine and sweat smell of a backpacker, I now have the stale beer smell of a wino. I think it's an improvement!
I sat on the train with my towel draped across my lap to allow it to dry. Definitely one thing about traveling that I don't miss. As the train passed through Antwerp I noticed some turrets along the track. They looked sort of half middle-Eastern and half-European. Hopefully this means Antwerp will have some nice architecture when I pass through when I return to Belgium. There was a funny announcement on board - they told some lady to get off at the next train station and wait for her husband there.
I shouldn't laugh at the misfortune of others ...but I will anyway! It's amusing because I've had my share of train mishaps - I've been lucky that something like that hasn't happened to me yet.
My plan before leaving Canada was to finish off "A Tale of Two Cities". I haven't even picked it up since leaving Europe in October. I should really try to read it - it'll be a good way of curing my insomnia. So I never ended up
The entrance to the park at the Rijksmuseum.
reading on this train ride - just sat and thought about nothing in particular. I find train rides to be quite therapeutic.
Arrived at the hostel - it's located right by the Vondelpark. Unfortunately, the portion of the park adjacent to the hostel is under renovation right now. There's a bit of an older crowd here, but that's balanced by some school groups. Sadly, there were no Polish cuties when I went to my room 😞 I unpacked, made my bed, and cracked open the box of Leonidas chocolates. Banana cream ... too sweet!
Off to the Rijksmuseum - so far, Amsterdam is REALLY cool! There are a lot of Dutch hotties everywhere, especially riding around on bikes. The women are very fit, probably because of all the biking they do! I saw what appeared to be a VERY attractive woman sitting on her bike at a red light. As I approached, I got a side view and realized that it was a guy! Noooooo! But then I walked around the front and then realized it was in fact, a GIRL!!! Wrong, just plain wrong!!!
The Rijksmuseum started off with some intricate dollhouses - yawn ... after that there was
A nice little park behind the Rijksmuseum.
some delftware - Dutch pottery inspired by Chinese porcelain. It looked a lot like Spanish Azulejo tiles. There were many Rembrandts on display. The museum was good - but I expected greatness. As a result, it was a tad disappointing. It definitely was not on par with Europe's great museums.
Did some wandering around after - it's actually quite hot here, probably in the mid-20s. I walked over to Leideseplein - tons of bars and cafes on this square. Very lively with "allhotties" (my condensation of "a lotta l'il hotties"😉. There were also many ladies with baby carriages - either yummy mummies or au pairs, I believe.
Down Leidsestraat - with its many clothing stores it is Heaven for women and Hell for men. Amsterdam is a really lively place - a really cool "Dam" place, in fact! I walked past a herring stand - I just couldn't bring myself to try this Dutch delicacy because it just looked too nasty.
I stopped and had some chocolate - but not because I wanted to, only because I wanted to keep my sugar levels up! I didn't enjoy it one bit, honest! I started walking down Kalverstraat -
Creepy-looking statue - what the heck is it supposed to be?
more clothing stores! 4 H&Ms in 3 blocks. More foreshadowing for the future - they're on track for world domination!
Off to the Jordaan neighbourhood. I started at Magna Plaza but needed to pause and have a granola bar shortly after - I'd been walking since 13:30 and was feeling pretty beat. I wanted to have a nice dinner tonight but was thinking about just grabbing a quick doner very soon before I passed out and fell into a canal.
The Jordaan is a very beautiful area - tranquil, but just lively enough to keep things interesting. This is where "real" Amsterdammers live. Off to the Anne Frank museum ... wow ... I found its impact even greater than Auschwitz. Auschwitz represents such an incredible amount of suffering that it's impossible for a person to even begin to comprehend its significance. Quite simply, it was overwhelming. Identifying with the intense suffering of millions is impossible ... but putting yourself into the shoes of a single person is easy.
But Anne Frank's story offers a humanistic glimpse into the holocaust - not so much into its horrors, but into the hopes and dreams of people waiting for a
A neat spot to chill out in the park. I like to play a little game with the pictures I've taken in Amsterdam, similar to "Where's Waldo?". It's called "Where's the Dutch hottie?" - it seems like there's one in every picture I took.
better tomorrow. Her family did have a chance and evaded capture for a long time. But sadly it just wasn't enough.
There was an interactive exhibit after - "Free 2 Choose". It adopted a modern, almost guerrilla approach to media - brash and in your face. Recent events are discussed (involving possible discrimination) and the audience can vote yes or no - was what transpired justifiable or not? The results are tabulated for the people in attendance and also compared to historical data for previous participants.
The whole thing reeked of a hidden agenda. So why did I stick around for it? To listen to the ideas and try to understand the message and motive? Or to dissect and refute them? Or perhaps expand my horizons? Nope - it's cause a couple of Spanish hotties stuck around. Pathetic? Yes. Can I help it? Nope. Sorry, I'm just addicted to drooling over "allspotties" (a lotta l'il Spanish hotties). I did try to pounce at the museum shop - but they were traveling with their mother hen, who swooped in to guard her young just in time! Come on - they're in their early twenties - it's time to let
Not all graffiti is bad - here's one with Anne Frank. Good stuff.
them leave the nest and make their own way in this world!
I decided to have a nice dinner after all (sadly alone, without two Spanish sisters) - the Jordaan was simply too beautiful to leave behind so quickly. I settled on Café de Regier - an excellent recommendation from the guidebook. I inquired about Dutch beer but was told to stick with the Belgian stuff because it's much better.
The recommendation was Affligem blond - served in a neat little goblet. Very good. I guess I prefer blond beers, though I've always seemed to be partial to brunettes! 😊 I started with the octopus salad - assorted greens, olive oil, and a tomato/olive tapenade (olives - yuck!). Garnished with some sort of mildy savoury poppyseed biscuit, the tender octopus was very good despite an over-abundance of olive oil. The flavours were very subtle after I picked off the tapenade and flung it into the canal.
The fish stew was excellent - potatoes, baby carrots (perfectly crisp, still), two types of clams, some savoury and tender fish chunks, and both green and white asparagus. I thought I could test a theory - supposedly chlorophyll is what makes
Ha ha, McDonald's = crap.
your pee stink after eating asparagus. Since white asparagus is grown in the dark, there really is no chlorophyll. So will the pee still stink? Of course it was a moot point because I forgot that there was still green asparagus in the stew. The asparagus was delicious - very sweet, as was the delicious light broth.
So far, this was an excellent meal - the cute Dutch hottie waitress running about also added to the experience. Dessert was also good - cherry, mango, and apple ice cream served alongside a long, wavy biscuit. Some strawberry chunks and pomegranate seeds strewn about provided a nice counterpoint to the ice cream.
The mango ice cream wasn't very good upon first taste - it tasted a lot like cherry. But then I realized that it WAS cherry - blast the dim lighting and my mild colour-blindness! The whipped cream was terrible - like bad Cool Whip. But the toasted slivers of almond made up for it. The restaurant's attention to detail was VERY impressive.
Back to the hostel - it was a long walk, but very enjoyable. Very tranquil and peaceful ... the kind of walk that you don't
More random Dutch hotties.
want to end. I sat on the hostel's patio for awhile and attempted to write in my journal and read up on the next destination. But I couldn't bring myself to do it ... I simply sat and reflected on Amsterdam's magnificence. It reminded me of a much cooler night in Interlaken, Switzerland and also a similar night in Bolzano, Italy (see Euro 2006 blogs "Wong Plays Pong" and "This is what living in an Ikea hell is like ....."😉.
A perfect meal, a perfect walk, and a perfect end to the night. So what's the perfect way to describe Amsterdam? It's picture-perfect ...
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