The Netherlands was considered by me a country visited in my “countings”, but what I considered to have already visited was, when in 2007 with the Comenius project I made a stopover in the capital on the way to Hamburg, taking the train from the airport to the center, having lunch at McDonalds and walk to the square where the royal palace is located and then to the flower market. That is, always straight through the streets Damrak and Rokin only.
This time I had a whole day, less than I had planned in April, when I had a ticket purchased and Aibnb booked, but then TAP called me and the holidays were obviously not that important. So I decided to take my man, to make up for this lost time, and we had to enjoy the day very well!
The shuttle from the hotel to the city left us on the other side of the Leidseplein canal. We were not far from the museum square, where the famous “I AMsterdam” sign is, but there was so many people that it was not even worth trying to take a photo. We just enjoyed the beautiful building of the Rijksmuseum, a visit that had to be left for another time.
We began to approach the center, crossing canals, marveling at this world of boats, flowers, bicycles and buildings that seem to be on the verge of falling, so crooked that they present themselves. The next destination was the flower market… which is, after all, more bulbs and souvenirs, because flowers are few.
From the flower market we went to Rembrandt Square, with a statue of the painter right in the center and one of the most beautiful Starbucks I have ever seen (the need for a bathroom made us enter).
We then reached the Amstel, the largest canal they even call it river, and where we began to see the first boat houses. We started to imagine what it would be like to live in a house like this, it would be so interesting to experience it one day! We went to the Waterloo market, that I realized later, it was the first flea market in history – and indeed with fleas. Nowadays it is another normal fair, with the peculiarity of selling sweets and cookies with marihuana.
I was hungry, so I bought Stroopwaffel, the famous Dutch biscuits stuffed with sugar syrup, butter and cinnamon. We passed the house of the West Indies and the In Waag, the last door of the ancient wall that still resists and that now houses a restaurant. Until we came across Zeedijk Street, where suddenly we felt transported to the east. Everywhere signs in Chinese, including street names, and restaurants from China to Vietnam. We opted for a nice Malaysian restaurant with a nice lunch menu and the best lemonade I drank in my entire life!
Suddenly we had crossed half a city and we were in front of the Amsterdam Centraal station, another building of relief in this wonderful city. Here we decided to do a cruise through the canals, photographs that I leave for another post, and that was totally worth it, especially because the boat is closed and decided to rain precisely when we were inside.
I fell in love with the little houses on the Damrak canal, which face directly into the water and not into a street, as in the other canals! We continued down the street with the same name, that I walked down 11 years ago, to decide to get lost in alleys and find something that could only happen in Amsterdam: a magic mushroom shop leaning against a church! We reached the royal palace square, full of pigeons. The buildings did not dazzle me so we did not waste much time there and went hunting for beautiful canals, wandering the alleys and making time for the Red Light District to “heat up”.
When we got there we could not even believe it was so central and so “open”, so “obvious”. There weren’t many girls, probably because at that time the neighborhood was still full of families looking for a place to have dinner, so we decided to do the same. I do not know if we can call dinner a Dutch pancake, but that’s what we looked for.
A bit later the “rooms” were more composed, although most were still uninhabited. I wasn’t impressed to see the girls, all looking the same, all operated, as if men only looked for that. From time to time there were some “normal” ones, more “natural” ones. Obviously we could not take pictures!
But the wake-up call for the flight the next day was early, so we could not stay much longer. We had to walk back to the Leidseplein with a beautiful sunset, a golden hour contrasting with the approaching very dark clouds! It was undoubtedly one of the best days this year!