Thursday, February 01, 2007


I was in Amsterdam in late August, 2006. I took the train, Eurostar from London Waterloo station to Brussels; changed trains and headed for Amsterdam. It is a town of waterways; there is water everywhere. It is pretty in its own way. Did you know there are mosquitoes in Amsterdam? With all that water, there's got to be mosquitoes. It rained the whole time I was there; 3 days to be exact. Thus adding more water to what's already there. The people spoke incredibly good English and were extremely friendly and that makes up for all the shortcomings of Amsterdam. From the pretty train station one walks down a very busy and touristy street. It was a weekend and it was packed with tourists. To see the real Amsterdam one must venture outside the touristy area. You don't have to go far, just turn outside one canal and you are there. It is a quiet and genteel and absolutely beguiling. You begin to feel like you could live there. There are cafes frequented by the locals and life is slow and unhurried. I took my 13 year old niece with me on this trip and all she wanted to do was to shop. I left her in the hotel room to read so I could explore on my own. It was an extremely pleasant stroll away from the madding crowd; away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas. We met some Americans; one couple was so helpful, they taught us how to ride the trams to museum square. I had lots of mussels, never ate so many mussels in my life. My niece was bitten by mosquitoes and had all these welts on her arm. We went to the drugstore thinking we could buy a tube of Hydrocortisone cream for the itching. We couldn't without a prescription. The ironic thing was, we could more easily buy marijuana without restrictions. We didn't go to the redlight district. It wasn't something that would interest a 13 year old. We did see some scantilly clad women in shopfronts from the train soon after we left Brussels train station on our way to Amsterdam. I still like Amsterdam and don't mind returning if just to go back to those quiet neighborhoods and just chill......

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