And we walked. And we walked.

September 23, 2015 - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is a very walkable city.  There are many streets and narrow alleys with very little car traffic but oh the bicycles!  They are silent and plentiful.  Silent until you walk in the bike lane that is.  The sound of bike bells will always be associated with Amsterdam.  The other hazard is the trams.  They are electric, efficient, and quiet.  We’ve yet to ride one but we will before we leave.

We started off this morning feeling much better though not quite in the right time zone.  We are staying very near the Schreierstoren, Schreierstoren Weeper's Towerone of the few remaining medieval fortifications remaining in the city.  Just a short stroll around the corner is St. Nicolaaskerk, built in the 1800s; not so old relatively speaking.  It is lovely inside and as you enter, a carved boat hangs above the entry.  From there we wandered to the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder “Our Lord in the Attic”. Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder

After the Netherlands became officially Protestant in the early 1600s, Catholic worshippers had to go “underground” or in this case, way above ground.  All the fancy trimmings (paintings and statues) inside churches were destroyed.  This church was built in 1663 in the top floors of a canal house.  We climbed narrow twisting stairways to see the full view but it was early in the day and we were up for the challenge.

interior of Oude KerkFrom there a short walk brought us to the Oude Kerk.  Both of these afore mentioned churches are in the Red Light District.  The Oude Kerk was built on a burial ground.  The entire church floor consists of tombstones.  It is said that there are over 2,500 tombstones in the church.  grave marker in Ould KerkSome are very plain and others more ornate.  It no longer functions as a church and during our visit there was a display of “Pride Photo contest winners” within.  Quite interesting.

Throughout our day today the weather played a role.  We decided to take a lunch and coffee break at the Dag Sleutel near the Dam Square.  National MonumentBill ordered an appeltaart with slaag (Dutch version of apple w/whipped cream) and I ordered a broodje ball (meatball sandwich).  We sat under an awning enjoying a break filled with people watching until the skies again opened up and awning or not, we soon became drenched.  Thankfully our food had not yet been delivered.  We took refuge inside.  The meatball was huge and served with a warm sauce that first tasted close to barbeque sauce, as well as spicy mustard.  It took me a while to recognize the peanuts in the warm sauce.  meatball sandwich peanut sauce and apeltartThe appeltaart was interesting in that there were no spices like cinnamon but just plain stacked apples.  The crust was very tasty though.  It seemed to be made with a powdered sugar type of confection.  We along a canalwere pleased and warm.canal viewcanal bridgealong the canal walk

From there we walked for several hours along some of the scenic canals in Amsterdam.  The Singel, Keizergracht, Herengracht, and Prinsengracht were added to the city in the mid-1600s as Amsterdma’s wealth increased during the Golden Age.  The different gables often signified different ages, or functions of the buildings along the canals.  Homes were equipped with pulleys at the top to move goods or furnishings to higher floors.  Buildings with shutters were often warehouses and the shutters added extra protection for the good within.  Houses were taxed according to the frontage of the house resulting in narrow steep houses.  In fact, they were built upon stilts sunk into the soft reclaimed soil.  You can see many of the building have sunk in and/or tilted over the years.  Also, before there were street numbers, folks often used a tile or sign to designate who resided in the home.  A baker might have bread over his house, a seafarer a ship, etc.  I took pictures of a number of these tiles today but my camera is not happy.  It could be moisture or perhaps from dropping it on the ground one too many times but many of my photos are quite tile2

We toured the Museum Van Loon on Keizersgracht; a wealthy family’s canal home built in 1672.  The home remains in the hands of the family who have restored it to circa 1757.  The family reside in the top most floor and operate the home, the gardens (in the back), and carriage house as museums to maintain the home.  It is a grand example of the home of wealthy Dutch merchants during The Golden Age.where's the bedVan Loon dining roomstroller sleighchildrens bedroomharpVan Loon garden and carriage house

From there we made our way to the Bloemenmarkt.  In the spring and summer this market is filled with fresh cut flowers and must be absolutely beautiful.  I love flowers.  This time of year there are plentiful flower bulbs for sale along with many other touristy items; cheese, souvenirs, grossly colored wooden shoes, etc.  EWooden tulipsven if the fresh flowers are few; I love the colors, the characters, and the visual stimulation.  I did buy some cheese from Gouda and some stroopwafels to enjoy with our coffee in the morning.  Stroopwafels are made with two very thin layers of waffle glued together with an even thinner layer of syrup.  Put one over the top of your cup of coffee in the morning and it can’t be beat!taken with permissioncheese shoptraditional dress in cheese shoptons of junkbulbs for saleBloemenmarktBloemenmaakt 2

I have to say that after attending a large outdoor music festival in Michigan prior to arriving in Amsterdam, I’ve smelled enough weed to keep me in a state of “contact high” for some time.  There was a time when I’d get a whiff of someone smoking a joint and it was kind of an unusual experience.  Here, quite honestly I’ve come to find the smell annoying and sour.  Now, the marijuana ice cream might be something I’d explore when I’m old and gray and have an escort to get me to where ever I need to go.  Three days in this unfamiliar city – No freakin’ way!  I’m quite convinced they’d find me floating in a canal somewhere.  I think in terms of, “Dude, where’s my houseboat?”weed cream

I think we wandered for several hours trying to determine a place to eat.  I was adamant that we would not have pizza, or “Tex-Mex”, or Brazilian barbeque or Greek food while in Amsterdam.  We went to Stoop and Stoop, a restaurant known for traditional Dutch food.  By now we had been rained on for a good portion of the day and did not look very glamourous to say the least.  Son-of-a-gun, though the restaurant was empty, they were expecting a large group for dinner and could not seat us.  We wandered some more and again, I was playing tour guide a.k.a. “control freak” and would not settle for anything less than a real Dutch experience.  RijsttafelFinally we came upon Puri Mas, an Indonesian restaurant serving a rijsttafel special.  I had read about rijsttafel and had already ruled it out; however, having felt rejected by our “authentic Dutch” food options, I was ready for the rijsttafel.  “Rijsttafel” translates to “rice table”.  This consists of small portions of a variety of Indonesian food served along with fried rice and white rice.  The flavors range from mild to spicy and the rijsttafel is really as much “dining experience” as it is good food.  We were hungry, tired of walking FOREVER, and were willing to try something unique.

Lest one thinks we strayed from the traditional Dutch theme, the rijsttafel is a dining experience one will only get in The Netherlands.  The huge trade done by the Dutch in the “East Indies” made a connection to the region that cannot be broken.  The influence of the spice trade is heavy in this meal.  There are peanut sauces, curries, peppers, etc. that speak on the tongue much differently than any other local foods

The restaurant was located up a narrow stairway across the street from the “Bollywood” restaurant.  Yep.  Really.  We were immediately met by a young Asian fellow with extreme politeness.  After taking our order he brought out two long warming trays.  At one point Bill said, “I don’t know how we’re supposed to get into this.”  I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not but I quickly assured him that the food would be place on top of the warming trays.  This whole meal was worth experiencing.  Price was probably near $25 each but what fun!  Really.  We felt like quite the adventurers!  Bill and I both loved to let our inner kids run loose and this was one of those experiences.  The service was impeccable.  Most of the dishes were to our liking; except the hard-boiled egg in barbeque sauce and curry chicken – not my favorites anyway.  We left feeling very smug, full, and content that we had made a good choice.  We walked, and walked; and walked again before arriving at our little boat on the water.XX

The boat has been a great adventure so far.  It is quite immobile but still quirky enough to feel like home to us.  Tomorrow we have to tick off the “absolute musts” from our Amsterdam list!




along a canal
along the canal walk
another bedroom
bedroom matching designs

1 Comment

September 25, 2015
Your word pictures are so vivid I was right there with you, Thanks.
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