After enjoying Keukenhof gardens and spending that night in a luxurious suite, our next destination was the capital city of The Netherlands, Amsterdam. We decided to explore the city largely on foot. We used the help of public transport to reach certain key points. At the tourist office, we picked up a map from an automated machine by paying two-and-half euros. The map – wrapped in a neat box – was delivered by the machine in no time.
Well, we went to the Museumplein (Museum Square) with the hope of making it to the famed museums such as Rijksmuseum (State Museum) and Van Gogh Museum. Unfortunately, there was a serpentine queue to buy tickets to these museums. We couldn’t imagine waiting there for hours, as we had already had a long day previously. Also, we felt we could do it the next time. Somehow we end up feeling we’d go back to the places we visit – perhaps due to an enigma attached to them. We continued with our quest to get a flavour of the city. The roads in the city looked narrow and crowded, but an aura of a typical European city did prevail. Our eyes met some lovely canals and bridges; the buildings built around them were aesthetically appealing.
It was 1 pm and time for lunch. We headed to a vegetarian joint called Maoz Vegetarian where we quickly had falafel (deep-fried ball made from channa) with some salads, and they were wrapped in a pita (wheat bread). This was typical vegetarian middle-eastern food and we enjoyed it. We also had some frites (potato fries) and cappuccino later.
We passed by Concertgebouw (concert building), one of the finest concert halls known for its great acoustics. There was an attractive theatre we came across, Pathé Tuschinski, where premier Dutch films are screened. We appreciated the cycling culture of the city. Incidentally, cycling is very popular in The Netherlands thanks to the flat land structure. We saw so my cyclists merrily riding away to glory, beating the moody weather conditions.
We walked through one of the ancient cobble-stoned markets called Albert Cuyp, which was built in 1904. It did have all those sundry things to buy – from clothes to shoes to cutlery to knick-knacks and what not. (I ended up buying a bag hastily, and it’s still adorning a shelf in my cupboard!) The tulip shops were a major attraction there. The tulips and their bulbs were sold in pots and bouquets. The seeds were on sale too. What a colourful sight that was! The tulips were also being exported to many countries in Europe.
We next went to the Dam Square where we saw a Gothic style Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and a neoclassical Royal Palace. There was a funfair too on the Dam Square. We then stepped into a magnificent 19th century building behind the palace, which housed a mall called Magna Plaza. This mall catered to designer tastes. We then headed to the American Book Centre where we bought a couple of books. It was 5 pm and quite cloudy.
We walked to the railway station.The building looked monumental and artistic. We took a train to Nijmegen (in the east of country) to meet our friends U and J and their little baby boy N. We spent that night with them and headed back to our present hometown in Belgium the next morning. All in all, our trip to The Netherlands was filled with fun and frolic. 🙂