Emmy and Lewis wanted to experience living abroad on a somewhat extended basis. Amsterdam seemed the perfect place: it’s perfect for the bicycling obsessed, has a wonderful progressive culture, and we’ve been welcomed by just about the most friendly city people in the world. Most people speak English and a sincere “dank je vel” goes a long way, even if that is your only shred of Dutch.
Lewis and I have taken two tours through the Red Light District and given one after our brief apprenticeship. Last year, 2013, we took the Saturday 5pm tour offered through the Prostitution Information Center (PIC). Mariska, who now runs PIC, was a prostitute and she gave us an informative one hour tour. She’s serious about this age old business and we learned a lot. If you are traveling with your parents, your kids or someone you don’t know very well, we recommend this one.
Cities are laid out differently in the Netherlands than in the US. First, the Dutch have made a virtue of living with density. For them, it’s better. It’s gezellig (see other post). Most houses are small and share outer walls. In cities with canals, such as Amsterdam, Haarlem, and, well, most Dutch cities, canal houses are 3 or 4 stories high and only 6 meters wide. Think of “brownstones” in Brooklyn or “walk-ups” in Boston, but much more compact.
Rodman Ward Sr. born April 8th, 1934: Happy Birthday, Dad! Flower Auction in Aalsmeer: World’s largest flower auction. We were so glad we got up early and went out of our way to visit this huge spectacle. We rented a minivan for the day. We were told that about 90 million flowers and plants change hands every day at this auction. There is even a special trolley line that takes carts and carts of flowers out of the auction house straight onto planes at the airport.
Bluespoon in the Andaz Hotel One of the reasons I am writing about this restaurant is that it isn’t in any of the guide books we are using. Coming home from a dinner out along the Prinsengracht canal, we ran into an attractive elderly couple out walking their wired haired dachshund. Trusting their taste, we asked them what their favorite restaurant in Amsterdam was. Smiling at each other, they responded, “The Bluespoon.
Our first overnight bike trip to the north of Amsterdam was to the town of Edam. This little place was, in a French word, charmante. We spent the night at a charmante hotel called the Fortuna and rode home, via Marken Island, the next day. Our Route To Edam Delightful De Fortuna, built in 1654 Highlights Dinner at Fortuna (best dinner yet! Cheers to the cook.) Ferry ride to Marken Island Cheese Museum in Volendam Tasting the water on either side of the dike to see if it was fresh or salt… answer: fresh leaning to brackish on both sides because the former ZuiderZee has been enclosed as the IJsselmeer.
Cido and Rob are our amazing landlords. They invited us for drinks and we had a lovely time. Susie took the picture. They answered our questions: The canal house right next to ours went for 1.5 million euros (2 million dollars approx.)! It is very expensive to live right in the city especially along the three historic canals. Kids start biking as soon as they have graduated from the trike.
Food, Atmosphere, Service Brasserie Vlaming Prinsengracht 193a Dutch F*** A*** S*** Sampurna Singel 498 Indonesian F**** A*** S*** De Belhamel Brouwersgracht 60 French F** A**** S*** Golden Temple Utrechtsestraat 126 Vegetarian F*** A*** S** Ko Chang Westerstraat 91 Thai F*** A*** S*** Proeverij 274 Prinsengracht 274 Trad. Dutch F*** A**** S**** Bluespoon Prinsengracht 587 Modern Dutch See Review in this blog La Oliva Egelantiersstraat 122 Tapas F*** A*** S** Kinnaree Anjeliersdwarsstraat 14 Thai F**** A** S***
Winkel Noordermarkt 43 Simple, Dutch, apple pie De Bolhoed Prinsengracht 60-62 Vegetarian De Prins Prinsengracht 124 Brown cafe, outdoor tables Cafe de Jaren Utrechtsestraat 126 Spacious, canal views, wifi Brasserie Baton Herengracht 82 Caual, simple, window seats, wifi Teun Restaurant Haarlemmerdijk 61 Casual, simple, sit outside, people watch Keizersgracht 238 Keizersgracht 238 See review this blog Tujuh Maret Utrechtsestraat 73 Indonesian, food amazing
Today, Emmy and I took our daughters Susie and Ellie to the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum (our son Jay is slaving away at school). It was a beautiful day in the high teens and the world was enjoying museums and cafes. Here are Susie, Ellie, and Vincent (and Vincent): On the way across the field, it was necessary to pose on the “I Amsterdam” letters (see above..,)
Wally is our dog back in the US of A. Wally happens to be a poorly behaved, but personable wire-haired dachshund. There are more wire-haired dachshunds in Amsterdam than any other dog… as far as we can tell. Here are some of the ones we made friends with: Poopie Hans walks Fuzzy and Beloved, his two old geezers Isadora Uppie gets Attention This is James
With all the stories of gentleman riding bikes in tweed jackets and ladies riding in skirts and spike heels and moms toting toddlers to daycare, you might think that bicycling in Amsterdam is a breeze, or a walk in the park, or something that seems very easy. Well, sorta… There are dedicated bike lines along most busy streets. There are separate traffic signals for people, bikes, and cars. There is a network of numbered bike routes throughout the entire country.
We had visitors our second week here. Two beautiful women stopped by to check in and we went to the Noordemarkt right near our apartment. This food market is only open Saturdays. Sally was looking for a full wheel of cheese to send to her mom and Helen was taking photos of cool fresh food for her mom’s blog. Lewis and I bought some fish to fry. Helen Vinn, a person whom Lewis and I have gotten to know really well because she is an awesome adult in the making and actually looks you in the eye and engages in meaningful conversations… we could go on and on about Helen….
Diary of Anne Frank (The Diary of a Young Girl, the definitive edition). The Anne Frank House (located on the Prinsengracht 276) is one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam with a line for admission as long as a canal. Lewis and Emmy read this amazing book before visiting which was the way to do it! The wide image above is the long line of people waiting to go into the Museum of the Anne Frank House, the most popular tourist site in Amsterdam.
With our daughter Susie, who is visiting for a week, we took a 50 minute train ride from Amsterdam to Den Haag. We visited three spots: The Gemeente Museum (Obama had been there the day before talking about the Nuclear Safety Issues!) Due to the renovations of the more popular Mauritshaus Museum, the Gemeente had received 100 of this museum’s famous paintings. Two of our favorites… a. Rembrandt van Rijn – The anatomy lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp
What’s a Hofje? A hofje is a courtyard of homes built by the wealthy to house the poor, the old, the orphans or the widows. They are hidden from the streets behind a canal house door. Once you open a door to a hofje, there is a lush green courtyard inside of peace and quiet. Hofjes of the Jordaan The Van Brienen Hofje (89 Prinsengracht) is our next door neighbor.
Emmy Emmy likes her “omafiets”. It’s by Gazelle, a large Dutch bike manufacturer. It’s called “Ambiance” and has 7 gears, so it is much more advanced than a classic omafiets, which is a black single speed coaster-brake bike. By the way, “omafiets” means grandma’s bike, which is not applicable to Emmy, as yet. Lewis Lewis brought his gear-head folding bike from Seattle. It’s a Bike Friday Tikit, the like of which has not been seen in Amsterdam.
We flew in directly from Seattle, departing mid-afternoon and arriving bright and early in the morning. The morning was that; we were not–having not achieved the necessary state of pre-departure exhaustion or inebriation that would induce sleep enroute. Taking the canal tour is a great orientation to Amsterdam and demands neither effort nor thought. We had been to Amsterdam last year and wanted to see something new. So, we went to the Nemo Science Museum along with hundreds of Dutch families and their happy, cute, very indulged children.
Emmy’s Packing List for Amsterdam Tips I bought my toiletries when I got there Working with Celsius instead of Fahrenheit: 30 is hot, 20 is nice, 10 is cold, 0 is ice. To get to F take the C and double it and then add 30… you’re really close…subtract 3 to get more accurate. I Used lite nylon packing bags for different clothing categories. For example, all my T-shirts went in one bag.