It is a bit of a long flight back to Amsterdam as we fly south first to Dar es Salam before heading in the right northerly direction and as we arrive at 7am we can’t check in to our hotel as yet. We decide just to leave the gear there and head out by train to the city centre. It is so nice and cool compared to the last two days in the Serengeti in the mid 30’s. Clearly our Northern Hemisphere genes prevail and we feel very comfortable in 7C.
Neither of us has been to Amsterdam before and it makes a very good first impression. It is very clean with not much car traffic but hundreds of cyclists. We feel like we have entered the Western equivalent of the wildebeest migration with warning tinkling of bicycle bells as people fly by on their bikes. When we get to the station parked there are literally hundreds of bikes of people who have commuted to the station for a ride into town. That’s probably why the buildings are so clean.
We are in the downtown area with narrow streets criss- crossed by canals. There are lots of bridges and many boats parked in front of people’s homes. A lot of the bridges open up to let through higher boats.
This is the home of Edam and Gouda cheese and in the touristy part of town we come across many cheese shops experimenting with newer taste versions on the traditional cheese. There is pesto, tomatoe, garlic and rum Edam. As all are set out for tasting we have a go deciding , that except for the truffle one we would stick with the original version.
Spring has arrived here, fresh green buds in the trees of new leaves and it’s tulip season in Holland. Apparently hundreds of thousands of bulbs get planted and a whole tulip festival erupts. This combined with Easter means that that there are a lot of tourists about. We sort out where to go to minimize the human traffic and just enjoy the ambience of the small streets. We do have to take time to adjust back to so much activity around us.
What helps is finding cute little shops filled with deliscious food which takes up our concentration:)
The architecture here is amazing , each house firmly stuck onto the next one, but no two look the same. They proudly display the year of first construction some going back to the 1500’s, the renovations keeping the original character. Even though these houses are very narrow they typically stretch three to four stories high but there is no room for a lift. Each house has a huge hook outside on the facade and we see someone moving in, the furniture being hoisted up via the pulley.
André is enjoying all the new, man made objects that seem to be a good focus for black and white photography.
The other interesting observation we make is that a lot of the houses are either leaning in or back , some of the windows don’t follow a straight line. It is most likely to do with the fact that things are built around the canals and there is probably a bit less Terra firma to keep things on an even keel.
We get to think of Andrew as we pass this amazing shop, knowing his weak point is chocolate.