Land of Windmills, Tulips, and Red Lights

Finally arriving in Amsterdam, we were pretty exhausted since we arrived after midnight but our spunky Irish ex-pat host, Clair met us at the train station. She brought along her friend, Sharon and we all threw back a few pints at their favorite pub with our huge packs in the corner of the crowded Friday night bar before Sharon left us and we headed back to Clair’s.
The next morning, Clair made a huge breakfast spread before we set out to check out the Saturday market in her neighborhood. Clair lived in an excellent location in the Prinsengracht neighborhood and she lived right across the street from the Anne Frank house.

Me holding fresh mint for mint tea

The market was so cute and Ellie found a great pair of vintage sunglasses and I tried some amazing goat cheese.

Ellie showing off her new glasses!

Clair took us to a restaurant that makes the thickest best apple pie I have ever had in my whole life and we had mint tea to go along with it.

Kelly and Sharon and the apple pie!

Clair, our host and Shaun an ex-pat from D.C.

The weather was a little rainy so we hung out at the restaurant and Clair’s friends Sharon and Shaun met us and we chatted for awhile before we all went walking through the 9 streets shopping district. We stopped in a restaurant and had some lunch and I found a vintage children’s store and bought a gorgeous dress for Sophia, my niece.

Vintage swim hats!

Amsterdam has a sunglass museum!

After shopping we split up with Clair and her friends and walked into the center of town.

We were curious to check out the Red Light District since it’s so infamous. It was pretty tame because it was in the afternoon but we got the picture. The prostitutes are actually government controlled and each rent out their little window per shift. It was not very women-friendly but the whole thing was really interesting. I thought it would have made me sadder but since it’s government controlled, there are less diseases and less pimps apparently.
On our way back to Clair’s we stopped by the Anne Frank house since the line was short and we got to experience it. This was one of the experiences that we both most wanted to have. It was a little disappointing though because it was so crowded and this one American woman was letting her child pound on the artifacts and scream and act crazy and the disrespect for Frank’s were really driving me crazy. To see the house though, was so crazy because you read her diary as a child and you never think you will be standing in the site it actually happened. It was so different than I expected.

This is the Anne Frank house. It looks really modern.

We went home after that and ordered pizza with Clair and watched a movie and fell asleep from our busy day. the next day we woke up and paid a visit to the FOAM photography museum where we saw an excellent exhibit from a Dutch photographer where he took beautiful photos of his family in black and white. We grabbed some lunch at Maoz, our favorite London falafel place and we checked out the floating flower market where Ellie purchased some tulip bulbs for her mom. We rented bikes near Prinsengracht and checked out the Homomonument, recognizing all of the gays and lesbians that were affected by Nazi power. We were most impressed with riding our bikes and checking out the beautiful homes in Amsterdam and the beautiful canals. Peoples homes in Amsterdam are stunning because they have huge windows on the ground level like shop fronts and never feel the need to put any curtains up. You can literally peer into people’s lives.

The houses are gorgeous and so is the architecture. That is something we never heard of when Amsterdam was described to us. Everyone just glorifies the red light district, the parties and the legalization of marijuana, but not the beauty of Amsterdam.

We had heard about a brewery a little outside of town and we decided to ride our bikes to it for an afternoon pint. The brewery was really cool though because it was inside a windmill. The beer was delicious and we were super excited about seeing our first windmill.

After our pint, we met up with Clair and Shaun and had a snack at a cafe before trying to catch a gig in a really cool venue but finding out the show was sold out. We just continued to ride our bikes through town, checking out the hip neighborhoods and appreciating the quiet of a Sunday night.

We also figured we might check out the happenings of the red light district at night. That area and all of Amsterdam is actually really gorgeous after dark.

Ellie at the beginning of the red light district.

Just outside the red light district.

Notice all the red lights. Those are the windows the prostitutes stand in.

Clair had to go to work the next day so we got up when she did and left with her. Our initial plan was to ride our bikes into the country but the weather was horrible so we found a little coffee shop and just drank tea, trying to map out an alternate plan. We decided to go to this famous Dutch pancake place for lunch and it was so delicious. They offer their version of pancakes from around the world and we had a Greenland one with nuts, onions and spinach. We also had a dessert crepe with sugar and lime which is traditional. It was such a nice meal to make us feel better about the weather and the fact that we had collided into each other and almost killed ourselves on our bikes moments before.

The Dutch do love their bikes though. Check out this bike parking garage!

After lunch, we decided that riding in the rain was dangerous due to our accident and returned out bikes and headed to the library which was the best library I have ever been in. It looked like Ikea had decorated it and on the top floor you had a whole view of Amsterdam and they had a whole-foods style food court.

Next door was the Nemo, the children’s science museum. It was a really cool building.
We shared an ultra spicy stir-fry and tried a raspberry wheat beer before walking back to Clair’s and hanging out with her and Sharon at a local tapsas restaurant in Prinsengracht. We were really sad to leave Amsterdam and I think I honestly felt similar remorse leaving as we had when we left Berlin. Amsterdam was some place I could envision living happily. We were on to Belgium though and knew we would not be disappointed because I like nothing more than BELGIUM WHEAT BEER, BELGIUM WAFFLES AND BELGIUM CHOCOLATE!


1 Response to “Land of Windmills, Tulips, and Red Lights”

  1. 1 Anonymous October 27, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Besides the beautiful streets and buildings in Amsterdam, the things that really impressed me was ALL THOSE BIKES ( AND OFCOURSE THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT)!! All very interesting!!! Momz

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