Monday, November 12, 2007
No matter how many times I have been to Amsterdam, I can't ever seem to figure out exactly which train to hop on when traveling from the airport to the city. Invariably, I stand around acting like "I am Dutch and I know exactly which train to board", but then, from down the tunnel, I can feel the cool outside air move toward me and know that the train will be arriving and the moment of truth will arrive with it. I swallow my pride and ask a local...I guess it's better than ending up in at The Hague.
I have always enjoyed Amsterdam. It's obviously famous for its canals, but there are other endearing qualities as well. I have never eaten a larger pancake or better french fries than in Amsterdam. I stayed out by the airport on this trip and spent just about all my time working. Amsterdam Central is about a 15 minute train ride from the airport and I have found it is actually one of the easiest mass transit journey's you can make in Europe.
My favorite area in the city is a portion of town called the Jordaan. (pronounced "Yordan") This is where the Anne Frank House is located. I feel that the museum is a bit overrated and is always horribly busy, literally a line out the door and around the building. The two most tangible portions of the house are the bookcase that the family pulled shut to hide themselves and pictures that Anne herself pasted up on the wall. I have visited twice and each time I touch the bookshelf handle and imagine the fears that the family must have felt as they actually pulled on the same handle. My favorite moments are lingering on a bench and listening to the bells of the 17th Century Westerkerk Church play each hour. With a cafe in hand, the people, canal traffic and church bells, is a thoroughly European moment.
One other area I always visit is an out of the way spot called the Begijnhof. It is a quiet courtyard area that was built for a lay Catholic sisterhood. Amsterdam is a noisy, busy place, but the Begijnhof is a place of refuge.
Finally, it is probably the only "touristy" thing I am willing to partake of, but my guilty pleasure is a huge Dutch pancake from a small cozy basement Restaurant called the Pancake Bakery.
I certainly could not capture a city like Amsterdam in a single post. I'll have to go back...