I’ve been a slacker, neglecting to write about our (rather uneventful) 1-day stopover in Amsterdam.
We had plenty of time in CDG (Paris) to get from one terminal to another; however, the signage in that airport is the worst ever. We had to ask for directions at least three times. But we made it, and the short flight to Amsterdam was uneventful. The Amsterdam airport is wonderful; I haven’t been in it since they renovated it, and I could spend days there. The cold was a shock after the warmth of Delhi. Luckily, there was an H&M store right as we got out of the baggage claim area, and I was able to get two pairs of those little stretchy gloves for 2€. Our hotel was just a short walk from the airport, so we went and checked in early so that we could shower and bundle up for the day. The rooms at the citizenM were adorable: small, but laid out very well with little pods for the toilet and shower that sealed shut around you with sliding doors. A remote controlled the blinds, lighting, and temperature as well as some other stuff I can’t remember.
We took the train in to Centraal Station, a rather confusing procedure (both ways, I don’t think we were ever asked for our tickets or used them in any way). Once we got to Centraal, I got my Streetwise map out and we started heading in the general direction of the Indonesian restaurant, Sampurna. We had decided to show up and have lunch there instead of keeping our original dinner reservations – we rightly guessed that we’d be feeling pretty wiped out by the evening. The restaurant was right where it was supposed to be, in front of the Bloemenmarkt, a stretch of flower shops. We walked in and there was only one other couple there. The waiter was very friendly and had no problem with us moving our reservation up. We ordered the only rijsttafel available at lunch, a couple of white Belgian beers, and enjoyed an incredible meal. There were chicken skewers in a thick, dark peanut sauce; a chicken curry; a beef curry; a spicy egg curry; prawn crisps; vegetables in a thin coconut milk broth; a strange fried soybean dish, toasted coconut to put on top of the rice; and pickled cucumbers. What a feast! Absolutely delicious!
After lunch, we decided to walk to the Museumplein and pick up a canal boat tour there. The views along the way were great; it was a good time of day for the sun.
The boat tour was interesting and informative; the tour is done through headphones in whatever language you want (well, there were 15 or so to choose from, so maybe not whatever language). However, the warmth of the heated boat and sitting down after a huge lunch got me feeling really, really drowsy. I was very glad we had decided on an earlier night than originally planned. After the tour, we wanted to walk over to the place where you can see seven bridges at once (easier seen from the boat than the street, though). Here are two of the seven bridges:
We really wanted to get hot coffee on our walk, but Amsterdam is not a city that has a lot of to-go coffee shops! We finally found one, which helped warm us up for the walk back to Centraal Station. Along the way, we passed by the Rembrandt square with his statue, skirted the edges of the Red Light District, got thoroughly lost for a bit thanks to my shoddy map reading skills (I blame the jet lag), and tried to beat the sun before it went down completely.
Back at the airport/hotel, we stopped in a grocery store at the airport and picked up some stuff for dinner. We ate in our room, conked out on the bed, and tried to stay awake while listening to the Pats game on an internet radio feed.
It was a most excellent vacation, and one we’ll never forget. I am still working on organizing my photos so I can share more of them. It’s a slow process, what with all my out of town gigs this weekend and next, Christmas coming, a bunch of other stuff to catch up on… But it will happen, eventually. Maybe even before 2013!