Amsterdam: Two wheels are deadlier than none

I liked Amsterdam. I really think I did. It's just that it's a really, really weird place.

And I don't mean weird as in strange. Just weird as in I can't figure out what Amsterdam really is. It's always been top of my list of places I want to see. I wanted to walk the canal-side streets and see the bike lanes. And that stuff is great ... but there isn't that much else. It's such a picturesque city, and that's what Amsterdam is: a picture that you walk through and just look.

I was really looking forward to this place. Everything about it. But when we stepped off the train I got a really weird vibe. I think it's the first time in all my travels (which, admittedly, isn't much) that I felt uncomfortable physically. There were three guys sitting around us on the train from Rosendahl who were traveling together. I'm pretty sure they were all former members of White Zombie, and they all appeared to be in some sort of open-eyed coma for the entire trip. But when the train stopped in Amsterdam, they woke into full celebration, and I guarantee they haven't been even close to sober since. That seedy, nomad culture that you picture in dodgy, dirty little cafes in Amsterdam ... is everywhere in Amsterdam. You get used to it, but it's everywhere.

K, that all sounds a bit negative. It's actually a fantastic city. Completely different from anywhere I've ever been. And that's a good thing. The bike lanes are phenomenal. Bicyclists are clearly the priority. I was nearly hit several times, and it was never their fault. Normally, as a pedestrian, you pay attention to the roadways and oncoming automobiles, but you don't think to watch for friggin' bikes. But trust me, they're not watching for you, so get the hell outta the way.

So, here we go then ... early morning - Dam Square:

We didn't have anything in particular planned to do in Amsterdam, besides the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, both of which are unexplainable for different reasons.

Morning coffee ... in a pub (welcome to the Dam):

Checklist for a day out with two little girls: diapers, wipes, crackers, fruit, sippy cup, hair clips, toys, dolls, blankies and a soother. Checklist for a day out in Europe: sunglasses and an iPod.

People in Amsterdam are really cool:

And nothing is cooler than texting on your bicycle:

And just like Paris, they like to sit outside:

Bikes. Lots of bikes. Everywhere:

On our second night, we got absolutely ridiculously lost, and ended up literally - literally - miles away from where we thought we were, and where we were supposed to be. If you know Amsterdam at all, we thought we were at Station Centraal, but we were actually on Museumstraat, next to the Van Gogh Museum. How? It's Amsterdam, I guess. Found this bakery along the way:

We left early the next morning and it was eerily quiet. Foggy and quiet. Beautiful, foggy and quiet:

Took the tram to Station Centraal, jumped on the train back to Rosendahl, and thus began the second leg of our Belgium experience ...

*I've got loads more photos from Amsterdam and I'll post them as life goes on. And as with every post, there are way more stories than I can fit here, so feel free to ask.

No comments: