Amsterdam Part One: First Impressions

Ding ding!.. watch out for bikes and trams. Once you’ve grasped this concept, Amsterdam is a delight. Galleries, museums, people, canals, cafes, cheese and beer were on the hit list for three days in Amsterdam. Arriving at 1pm at Schipol, with a 15 minute train ride to Amsterdam Central, our B & B was only ten minutes walk along tree lined canals and over cobbled bridges.

The Jordaan area is a peaceful tranquil oasis with great little shops and bars and restaurants. Dotted amongst them are the homes of the dutch, their front windows set with beautiful displays of their own personal possessions and art.

We managed to catch the end of the Organic market at Noordemarkt and bought some lovely sheep’s cheese and bread and then just wandered and wandered along the canals around the city centre. We came across a shop called ‘The Otherist’, a collection of curiosities from around the world, from bones to bugs all displayed in glass or behind frames and a shop dedicated to the history of spectacles.

Bad planning meant Don was missing the last weekend of the six nations rugby. Amsterdam is famous for its Brown Cafes, ( traditional dutch pubs)

Our first port of call was The Gouden Florijn where everyone flouted the general smoking laws. I could put up with it for a couple of hours and have to say the atmosphere was brilliant especially as Ireland won. This was the first of many brown cafe visits over the three days. Great locals meeting place, impromptu singing around low small bars in squared off buildings, often with a mezzanine level built for dulled dark stained wood, they were the most convivial cosy spaces.

amsterdam 2014 (61) (480x640)Of course, you can’t go to Amsterdam and not visit the infamous Red Light District. Apparently not what it used to be, it is now full of tacky sex shops and more aimed at tourists, although we were surprised to see some more upmarket ladies early on the monday morning displaying their wares in front windows!. The best thing about it was definately this lovely little bronze set in the pavement.

The dutch people are very tall and very friendly. It was the warmest city experience with a big heart and great sense of trust. This must extend to the roads too because we couldn’t work out who was giving way to who and no-one wore a helmet on a bike or on a moped. Walking is a must and the tram system is superb and fast. I’m not sure I’d be safe on a bike!

The next blogpost will be about the art!

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