Arrival: First thoughts.
After the run around in Seattle we arrived into Amsterdam about 2.5 hours behind schedule. My first thoughts, having never been to this city before was that it very much reminded me of Barcelona or Old Montreal. There was a glow, a haze in the air and as most of the city (I think) was built up in the late 16th century, there is an air of simplicity about it, hues of browns, creams, taupe drape every building, fragile cobble stones line the streets. I marvelled, row after row, after row of 5 story attached homes, each over sized window on display with shutters turned back. Beautiful.
Shopping, So many shoes & No Luck BUT the coffee was divine.
After dropping our luggage at the hotel we went for a walk into the inner city in search of Shoes & Coffee. If you know my traveling companion… that will not be a surprise.
First stop, Coffee. We found a cute little coffee shop, def. not hard to find that – as on each block there are several. Isn’t in funny how you can find these little moments within a moment?
A simple thing, cappuccino. The sunlight streams through a large window beside me, jazz is playing on the radio, a song I don’t recognize & everywhere around me people are speaking rapid dutch. The lovely barista sets my coffee down & I breathe in the aroma pausing knowing this is it. Time stands still in moments like these.
The reality of my being here hits me, I truly LOVE BEING HERE, I am grateful for my life. That bit of cappuccino goodness was pure bliss.
I shared a story with my companion right there of another coffee bliss moment, this time though my son & I were in Europe together. We had ducked into this little pub for Pepsi with a wedge of Lemon for him and a very sweet spanish coffee for me. I can recall that day like it happened yesterday. I loved every minute of that trip. Sweet Memories. Someone said to me the other day, “Memories are the only thing you can take with you.” I agree. I plan to make a life time of them.
After coffee, we went shopping. I was surprised by how many stores there were in a ten block radius. We searched shoe shops one after the other, I gave up fairly soon knowing what we woman just do sometimes; Today simply wasn’t my day to buy shoes. My partner on the other hand did much better, he found some typical Euro style multi fabric flats.. very cool & they were on sale so Yup, Yup Love it when that happens.
McDonalds the Gateway to Heaven?
Midday, a little before 3pm we popped into a McD’s to utilize their free WIFI. I check in and as this building was several stories high I had a great view of the street below. As I was studying the people passing by I took notice all of a sudden of a church tucked away among the rows and rows of shops. The entrance was this non-discript alcove with St. Peter standing resolutely near by. 3:00pm The Divine Mercy Hour. A sign.
We walked in not knowing what to expect only to find a beautiful church, ornately carved wood, stained glass through out and believe it or not, this was an apparition sight! Mary, The Lady of All Nations Appeared there through the years right after the Second World War. In 1996 the apparition was approved.
I stayed to pray for a few minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament, you know because thats what I do. Then I lit candles for my kids as well as in thanksgiving. What a gift, the stillness of my heart, the love, the peace. Very cool afternoon.
Bike Taxi, the other side of the city.
Having left the shopping district we decided to jump into a bike-cab for a little tour and a ride to Anne Franks Huis. This actually became the highlight of my day. We left the tourism centre and went to the smaller lesser know areas of central Amsterdam, places a local might go to enjoy the city. We stopped for a few photos and an had a wonderful lad well versed in Netherlands history taking us through the city. It was remarkable and beautiful and I was so impressed by what a healthy culture the Dutch enjoy. There are more people using bikes for transport than I have ever noticed in any other city that I have been. We lucked out with the weather it was sunny and clear and spring temperature warm. The local people were ALL out taking in the sunshine.
Anne Franks Huis.
As a history buff and someone that spent a number of years pouring over every bit of information about occupied Europe during the second world war, this was truly a great experience. Abet extremely sad and challenging, but also somewhat inspiring. The human condition and the will to live.. it can be enormously courageous.
A sun set in the dam.
French Fries in the Dam
Okay, this is just a random share. So there is this place, a fry place right in the heart of downtown. It’s 100% Dude food. However, lol I have been hearing about these fries for a near month so we pounded the pavement until we found them. I think there is a significant love for a particular food group when despite living on a different continent, you are on a first name basis with the Amsterdam Fry Guy. LOL. This place is take out only & the fries come in a cone. Their ‘thing’ is simple. Best fries in the dam & your choice of 50 different toppings. One Word: Condiments. Some say dogs are mans best friend, huh.. I’d wager in our case it’s condiments. LOL. They were good though, exceptionally so.
The Red Light District
This was nothing like I had anticipated. It was less exotic and more business like, almost clinical. Very regulatory and safe. This place made me curious. In a city that has both regulated & taxed the cannibus & prostitution industries what is the poverty & crime rate? Often it’s cyclical .. family of origin struggle leading to dependancy which leads to prostitution. I know there are 17000 combinations of situations that lead to prostitution and involvement in the drug industry but I have to say I noticed, there was NO obvious homeless population. There were no panhandlers, or people begging. I live in Vancouver and work closely in the downtown east side, I spot homelessness easily everywhere I go. This actually surprised me, as a town infamous for their Pot Cafe’s and Live sex shows, pretty much it was all quite tame.
Drinks w/ the boys..
“There sure are a lot of gentlemen here..” direct quote from City Guy (My Shoe Loving, Fry Guy Cohort, Very Libran ~ Traveling Companion) haha.. Well a little backstory.. we were walking home from our night out when I caught sight of a little pub that I swear reminded me of exactly what I imagined “The Hogs Head” (Harry Potter Reference) to look like.
So we popped in. I am a virgo, and have a high ability to notice minute details. I absolutely noticed the very large rainbow flag hanging beside the door. I also absolutely didn’t care, it was a candle lit pub playing 80’s show tunes. We came in sat down, got chatted up my a ridiculously friendly bar man and went on to go back into our conversation bubble. Half an hour or so goes by and noticeably the pub was filling up. I’m having a great ol time, laughing and talking when all of a sudden City Guy stops in his tracks. He turns to me mid course of Fernando by Abba and with shock exclaims.. “This is a gay bar? Is this a gay bar??!!” OH MY GOSH. I laughed so hard.. “You just noticed this?? I mean the show-tunes, the fact that I am the only woman in here and the bartender that’s been flirting with you while trying to figure out whether I am your girlfriend, your sister or your fiend. LOL Poor city guy, it was so funny\cute.
Good Night, Good Morning, Good Grief, somebody call security.