Amsterdam.. conjures up a variety of anticipation… history, seafaring, stag do destination, canals and tulips all come to mind. The last time we were here I spent most of the time alone as Amr was on a business trip, I had just tagged along for the ride!! This time however, looking forwards to exploring together, in the summertime instead of the bleak winter weather.
Having opted to stay near the airport we walked the short distance to the train station which had us in Amsterdam Central in fifteen minutes. Wow, the city is very different in summertime, we forgot the school holiday effect!! Crowds channel you across the road and over the tram lines and onto the main street heading towards Dam Square like a fast flowing river of bodies, try to make your own ripple and go against the tide is not advisable – havoc is likely to ensue!
Having no particular plan we wandered away from the main touristic thoroughfares and souvenir shops and sauntered along the canals, watching the daily life flowing past along the waterways and cycle lanes. The tall buildings, many built during the heyday of the city’s status as a major seaport in the early 1600’s, standing the test of time… or not in the case of a number which are leaning towards either the next building seeming to hold it up, or swaying into the narrow streets. Signs of previous use abound and add to the decor of the stately buildings, viewed from below one has to be careful though, as getting carried away with the splendour tends to result in the odd trip or two, and that’s without recourse to the ‘weedy’ odours wafting out of the many coffeeshops lining the streets!
Other tantalising odours emitted from the plethora of multicultural cafes and restaurants tempt the tastebuds and convince you you are hungry even if you have just eaten. The enormous queues blocking the – very wide – pavement outside of ‘Amsterdam’s No 1 Fries’ was irresistible to us. Justifiably so as we discovered after pondering which of the many sauces on offer and choosing, what else but cheese in Holland! Perhaps the best chips ever eaten by myself, whilst sitting on the street watching the weird and wonderful life in the city go by.