Thursday, July 21, 2011


Leaving a conservative neatly organized society of Luxembourg to the tongue in cheek silliness of Amsterdam is a lesson in opposites socially speaking. The dutch love their country from what I can glean in conversations both in and out of the Netherlands. I love these people for embracing diversity and tolerance though within the last few years of massive immigration their welcome mat has been worn thin.
It doesn't get much more fun than this

On the train we actually executed an advanced plan to exit the train station by turning left to locate a bicycle rental company so we could ride through the streets with our packs on our backs to search for a hotel. The plan worked flawlessly. Bicycles rule this city and for good reason. Most streets are extremely narrow, parking is a trick only the Dutch can make happen, and navigating up, over, and around the city maize seems impossible even for a seasoned traveler as myself. So we located the MacBike rental office, rented two common looking steeds, and off into the hinterland we did peddle. A word of warning when peddling in Amsterdam, it's residents take cycling very serious so bicycling without direction, purpose, and lack of control is not tolerated its citizens. Everyone from Dad riding with two kids, Grandma shopping, or the nattily dressed businessman ride with conviction with no monkeying around.

Within a half hour we found the very elegant Hotel Doelen, a small hotel on a quiet back street in the center of the city. We dismounted, locked our bikes to a building and toted our luggage into our room and then off to explore this ancient fascinating commerce port. Our destinations included the Rijksmuseum to see the Rembrandt works, the VanGogh Museum and ride by the Ann Frank house which we didn't go in because of the massive line around the building. Then we decided it was time to stop by a coffee house to sample some of the special coffee at the Jolly Joker. Our experience there was more than we both could have imaged so we retired to our hotel room for a few hours.

This ain't your Grandma's coffee but it is the richest kind
Amsterdam is very quaint just to stroll around and wander into a pub or a restaurant. Both of us had been dying for some Thai food for a long time so we decided on eating Thai food for the first evening meal and without disappointment. The spice, the coconut, and the textures satisfied our desires for one of our favorite cuisines. OK...we were not quite fully satisfied because the next nights dinner was again Thai food but at a different restaurant that was even better. Yes at times we can be very repetitious and boring though not having Thai for four months we needed our fix more than just once for such a long celibacy.

First Class Train from Amsterdam to Paris...very nice
After four days in Amsterdam we boarded our first class high speed train directly back to Paris so we could catch our flight to London. When I use three world cities in one sentence it makes me shiver with delight.  Our brief return to Paris allowed us to meet Kasia, the very charming daughter of the gentleman who was the owner of the apartment we rented in Paris on our previous stay. Lisa Wines arranged for us to meet at an Italian restaurant and then we went for a night cap drink at a corner cafe. We told Kasia we were going to Ireland and she insisted we contact her mother who has a 300 year old thatched roof cottage to rent in Kells south of Dublin. We promised we'd try to contact her but first we must see London and a portion of its surrounding country side.

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