Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
136Trip End Sep 01, 2011
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Our friend, Dave Rheingold, came to visit from NYC. Here are his impressions of Amsterdam:
Amsterdam was a very pleasant trip with lots of surprises. Mel and Chris were gracious enough to put me up for a week, albeit fighting for sleeping space in the cat tree with their cats, Milo and Venus.
All I knew in advance was what I read in the tour books and all the party stories told to me by friends. There are certainly many high times to enjoy, but Amsterdam's real flavors come by slowly savoring all its nuances. Try the scents at an outdoor market - delicate flowers, rich cheese smells and even the boxes of dusty books.
Study the canal boats and homes adorned by a rainbow of flowers.
Listen to the wandering accordion players, whether they are playing gypsy songs at the markets or beer drinking sing-a-longs at cafes. For tastes, abandon all thoughts of diets or healthy eating, and go >>>>>straight>>>>> to the chocolate and cheese stores. JUST GET WITH THE DUTCH PROGRAM. And don't forget the yogurt with 8% milkfat. You'll be working off the calories by biking and walking.
For an adrenaline rush, speed on a rattling bike through the city, dodging pedestrians and avoiding tete a tetes with trams.
However, you may want to knock your head at a brown café by having a "kopstoot", which translates as knocking your head. It's a shot of genever, which is young gin, chased with beer. The shot is poured to the top of the glass, so sip the first bit while it's still sitting on the bar. Then, down the hatch! As one old timer told me, you need to do a lot of kopstoots so you can get used to how strong they are. Another told me that the best hangover cure is to start the day with another kopstoot.
Restaurants have a variety of delicious foods. Just make sure you eat a meal before you go out, as you will be sitting quite some time before a waiter shows up, and who knows where the cooks are.
Don't forget daytrips if you have the time. By car or bike, there are a variety of places to see. However, you won't see any mountains. The beach and its relaxed cafes right on the beach are a great place to watch the slow, northern sunsets.
Mel and Chris will tell you about the Dutch culture, things not told in tour books. The differences from America are significant, and there are lessons to be learned. In a nutshell, the culture places more emphasis on family and friends as opposed to materialism. Many Dutch are very friendly. You can get a good idea about how they live by just looking into their apartments and homes from the street. They don't really believe in curtains, so it's easy to get a good idea of what it looks like to be in a Dutch home. But don't expect anything too exciting. It's usually sparsely decorated with fresh flowers being the centerpiece of each room. Just picture yourself in an Ikea showroom with a vase of tulips.
Someone told me there were some nice museums in the city, but they were not near the Redlight District or the coffee shops, so I can't tell you too much about them.