I finally managed to spend a lovely weekend in Amsterdam, a city I heard a lot about ( I am sure you did too 😉 ).
This post is the result of a series of unplanned events that lead to a lovely experience.
First, the friends I was meeting, had to go home on Saturday night which meant I was a solo traveller for the whole Sunday.
Second, even though the UK is part of Europe, it is quite different from the other countries and this includes phone chargers. I forgot to take my adapter with me, ended up with a dead phone but decided not to get a substitute and live the adventure phoneless.
That was one of those times, I noticed how dependant we are on these little devices.
I had no way to check the time, I do not wear a watch, usually I just use my phone. But thankfully, there was a TV with the time in my hotel room which helped in the morning. For the rest of the day, I used the city clocks like the one on top of the Wester Kerk and the one on top of the royal palace. And of course asking for the time was a great excuse to start some conversations with the locals.
The other challenge I was facing was directions, because again I was using my phone to find my way until Sunday morning when I had to grab a paper map like the old good days.
And there I was: Me, my eyes, Amsterdam and a map.
I was surprised how easy it was to find my way around Amsterdam and how connected this city is. I walked almost through the whole city.
I first headed toward the flower market but quickly turned around heading to the Amstel. Not that I didn’t like the market but because I visited it the previous day. I thought it was a spot to sell tulips and the market would be bigger inside some covered space like a mall…Silly me.
Anyway…Amsterdam is built on water and beautiful canals are everywhere but on my must see list there were the Amstel (the river) and the IJ. I got to know the importance of these two rivers and their role in building Amsterdam by reading Geert Mak’s Amsterdam: A brief life of the city.
The Amstel was absolutely glorious under the golden colour of the sun. I stood there on the Blauwbrug bridge filling my eyes with one the most beautiful views I ever seen. This part of the city was not busy, maybe because it was a Sunday. The few tourists who crossed my way there, were taking pictures which made me smile because I know if I had my phone on, I would be trying to capture the view instead of enjoying it. I was really happy I was phoneless.
From there I walked toward the Magere Brug for a closer look on the Amstel before I head to my next stop: The Anne Frank Huis which I strongly recommend. It is very emotional and sad but a powerful reminder to all of us of the eternal fight for freedom, liberty and tolerance.
I am pretty sure I looked like a fool, I was walking with a big smile on my face and my head up, scanning the lovely buildings along both sides of the canals, crossing small bridges and observing the locals in their businesses or on bikes.
I was trying to go back in time and imagine Amsterdam of the fifteenth century, a less crowded and less sophisticated Amsterdam. I even tried to visualize twelve century Amsterdam, the small village with wooden houses.
I must say I envy Amsterdammers for their city. They probably wake up on Sunday, take their bikes and go on tour around the canals before they end up in an authentic Amsterdam café for a pancakes breakfast…Mamma mia! The good life.
After my visit to the Anne Frank House, I went on a sweet cultural experience at the pancake bakery where as you can guess, they serve massive sweet and savoury pancakes. As I had pancakes for breakfast, I decided to go with traditional Dutch Poffertjes with cherries and whipped cream for lunch ( I am aware I am having a very sweet lunch).
Of course I would not miss trying authentic Dutch speciality, it is part of the whole cultural adventure!
After my stop at the pancake bakery, I found myself accidentally in another stop: the Amsterdam cheese museum. Oh my goodness! Here I was trying another taste of the Netherlands. You may want to add this to your list of places to visit especially if you like cheese.
I walked again in the streets of the city until I found myself in the very busy Dam square where locals were shopping and tourists wondering the place. Then I went toward the central station, I met the IJ and took the train to the airport.
That was my very special day with Amsterdam, there was no interruptions, just me, my eyes and Amsterdam.
the traveller inside me