Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mark well what I do say

For our anniversary this year we decided to push the boat out and have a city-break abroad, and decided on Amsterdam, because of the number of great museums and art galleries. Ned had been there many years ago but it was all new to me. After a minor heart attack at the cost of leaving the car at the airport (they cleverly only tell you the price once you're committed) an uneventful flight saw us at Schipol, trying to find the best way to get to the city.

That done, and the hotel found successfully after our initiation with the trams, we set out to explore. One of the first things we learned is that not only are there more bicycles in Amsterdam than in the whole of the rest of the universe, they seem to obey no rules of the road that we could see. This gave sightseeing an added frisson of fear because you never knew when you were likely to be run down. Like the outsiders we were we thought that staying on the pavement would be sensible, but when that's blocked with parked bikes you have no option but to risk almost certain death. They're generally very sturdy old-fashioned 'sit-up-and-beg' type contraptions, but we did see some wooden ones for hire!

Eventually we decided that a little 'Dutch courage' (d'you see what I did there?) was called for, and found a very nice old-fashioned bar, with leather curtains at the doorway and sand on the floor. And no, it wasn't one of those 'perfumed' bars for which the city is famed, either!

They have an odd way of pouring a beer; sloosh it into the glass, and when the head gets too high they slice it off with a knife and hand it over.Apparently there's an official measure but it still looked awfully random. However it girded our loins nicely for the next foray into the streets.

As it was latish afternoon by this time we didn't have a lot of time in the Amsterdam Museum but it gave us a broad overview of the history of the city. There was a strange area where they'd set up the front half of a suit of armour, with a ruff above it, so that you could stand behind it and have your photo taken 'dressed up', with the photos published on Flickr. We thought this rather jolly so dutifully stood there ... but the camera seems to be set too high and the only image is of your face and the ruff, and none of the armour at all, so that's a bit disappointing. However on the way out there was a strange corridor of mirrors which called for a photograph/

For dinner that night we went to an Indonesian restaurant (not as strange as it might seem when you realise that Indonesia was a Dutch colony for 300 years) near our hotel and had a very pleasant meal, then were thrilled to discover, back in our hotel room, that the BBC channels are shown on Dutch TV and with the hour time difference it meant we could watch the final of the Great British Bake Off; a very satisfactory end to the first day.


NigelH said...

Shame there isn't a song called "Going Dutch" - or is there?!

Jeangenie said...

I thought I'd done well with the title. (I can't believe we were taught that song at junior school!)

Trouty said...

Since I've led such an innocent life, I had no idea to what 'Mark well what I do say' alluded.
Well, I've Googled it now and, apparently, there are many different versions. I'm wondering which of them you learned at school!

Sounds like a lovely trip. A belated happy anniversary to the pair of you. It's great to see you both looking so well.

Fluffy said...

Sam and I have been to the Netherlands a few times now, and we always go out for Indonesian food. Very tasty.