About 25 hours after we left home (probably more, I’ve already lost track), we finally touched down in Amsterdam. As nice as the flights were, it was even nicer to know that we have a few days to actually ‘be’ somewhere instead of just getting somewhere.
Flying in, it became clear how Holland is known for many things, but mountain ranges isn’t one of them. It was flat as a pancake as far as the eye could see. When we were descending just before Schiphol airport, I was happy to tick one tourist item off the list: Saw my first real life proper honest to goodness Dutch windmill.
It was surprisingly quick getting through passport control and Customs. Then again, since it was 8:30 Sunday morning, the whole place seemed nearly deserted until everyone from our flight started pouring in. We arrived at our hotel at about 9:30 AM, too early to check in, but fortunately they were able to store our bags in the meantime.
So – time to get down to business and start exploring this beautiful city. And beautiful is pretty accurate – it’s a charming collection of narrow houses, many of which are 300 or 400 years old. Since the original land of Amsterdam was pretty swampy many of these houses are built on piles sunk in to the group, and over the years some of these house have developed a pretty alarming lean… but as far as I know none of the have fallen over, at least not yet.
First stop on our wandering around was Kobalt Cafe, and having recently opened for the morning it still had a distinctive but wonderful smell, of a beautiful old wooden framed house.. not sure how old, only info I could find was “one of the oldest in the heart of Amsterdam”. We sat outside (no, nothing to do with the smell of old wooden building!) and watched the cars trucks bikes and pedestrians all somehow traverse a six-way intersection without all hitting each other. It was like scary poetry in motion … I don’t know how they did it, but sometimes it looked like there were vehicles and people going in all directions – I guess they all knew what they were doing, but at times it sure didn’t look like it.
After we left Kobalt Cafe we did a bit more wandering around until lunchtime at that great Dutch institution…. McDonalds. At least they serve their fries with mayonnaise, well, Fritessaus, near enough.
Final stop before being able to check in to the hotel was the Five Bells Bar, just next door to the hotel itself. It was such a relief to get into our room, to have the chance to shower and feel a bit more human. By this stage the battle was on to stay awake – so off for another wander round, canalside drinks, arvo cocktails in a place near the hotel, and onto an Argentinian restaurant (Santa Maria) for a tasty dinner.
After that, back to the hotel to write up the day’s events and finally get my tired self to sleep (which is why today’s entry isn’t really brimming with detail).