Monday, June 18, 2012

This much I can say

I will be back, Amsterdam. I loved the city the moment we got there. Compared to Brussels, which is more for business than mindless travel, Amsterdam had more people on the streets, more babies on strollers, and actual rabbits (!) in the park.

In a nutshell, Amsterdam is both charming and bustling. There are just things there that I'm sure I won't experience anywhere else in the world.

Like the city's love affair with bicycles -

Quick fact: Amsterdam has more bicycles than people
These houses along the canals -

The houses look like they were taken straight out of a post card.
I wondered whether they're occupied. Believe you me, they are.

Notice the huge windows. The Dutch do not seem to mind passerby peeking into their daily lives.
At dinner time, you can walk the streets of Amsterdam and watch families eating their meals.
Dutch design -

Not exactly a prime example of the Dutch design that I was referring to, but I hope this interests you and you Google their furniture (at least). The Dutch think out of the box but are less flamboyant than the Japanese. They're odd, in a good way.
Wide open spaces -

Manila should really have more parks

The transport system -

It amazes me how trams, buses, cars, bicycles and people use the same streets.
Museums and historical places -

Taken outside the Van Gogh museum.
There are so many things to do in Amsterdam.
Imagine what Malik and I can do on weekends there!
We did the usual tourist route. On Day 1, we went to the Van Gogh Museum and the red light district.

The window display of a "condomerie"; Figure that out
The next day, we attempted to get into the Royal Palace -

Not a photo of the Royal Palace but of the shopping mall across the Royal Palace. Hee
I just wanted to show that I got to wear my boots. :)

Okay, to my right is the side of the Royal Palace.
It'll be closed until end of the month. 
- but only successfully found the Rembrandt house -

The house where Rembrandt lived between 1639 to 1658
- the Willet-Holthuysen canal house museum -

I discovered during this trip that I enjoy looking into the lives of the rich in centuries past.
The Willet-Holthuysen house is interesting in that the owners never did anything to deserve such opulence.
They just happened to be born rich. Good for them. 
- and the house where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.

I did not want to line up to get into the Anne Frank house because it was freezing cold but Pao made me.
We stood in line for close to an hour in unbearably cold weather.
It was worth it. We'll take Malik to this house someday.
Their language takes getting used to. Unlike say Italian or Spanish, where I could more or less make out the meaning of words, Dutch is absolutely foreign to me.

Can you read the street signs? It's okay if you can't.
I read them but did not understand them one bit.
I may not also be built for the cold and windy weather. It was approximately 9C when we were there but the winds lowered that number to a really uncomfortable number. (Side story: Pao and I lost track of time on our first night in Amsterdam that we almost missed the last bus to our hotel. Imagine spending the night outdoors in that weather. Brrrr.)

But I am so enamored with this city that I will certainly be back. I especially like the Dutch. They are exceptionally more welcoming than most Europeans.

And now, for the customary jump shot.

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