Friday, August 24, 2007
Great Beer and Exquisite Cheese in Amsterdam
Well, I knew I’d find that. I took every opportunity to splurge on beer and cheese. What I did not know about Amsterdam was the popularity of bicycles. Everyone rides a bike. There were some cars but most people, even the pregnant mommies with only a week or so left to term, were on their bikes. New born babies were strapped to their parents’ chests and their little heads were sprinkled with rain drops. Toddlers were loaded into little wooden carts affixed to the front of the bikes and off they rode.
Our hotel was on this Canal and in a nice, not - so - touristy area. We had lovely accommodations. I did not see the red light district that everyone talks about but I was only there for a few days. When you go to the Dam Square shopping area it is really touristy and there were some sex toy type of shops with risqué toys in the windows right across from the McDonalds. I thought the Pot shops were funny. Bijan went into one to get some T-shirts for his buddies and they handed him a menu for pot. Since he was shopping with Matt it was unlikely that he would buy anything more than t-shirts. I knew from my research that they had public urinals right there in the street. The men can just walk behind a small metal screen and go. That was interesting.
I finally got to see the Girl with Pearl Earring; she creeps upon you in a room in the Mauritshuis Museum. Unpretentiously, this famous work of art just sort of waits for you to turn around and discover her, and it was all that I thought it would be – beautiful! I was really surprised to find the View of Delft, also by Vermeer, to be another favorite. It was much more impressive in person.
Amsterdam was bustling with small cars, bikes, canal boats and sidewalk cafes everywhere, but I got the feeling that there was less tension between the people that lived there. I got the feeling that it was ok to be however you wanted to be. The Dutch seem to be much more relaxed about human nature and the reality that people are all very individualistic. Conformity might not be so good for everyone and every personal preference is not left open to so much scrutiny. There is a pervasive feeling that it makes no sense to be so up tight in this life. I took the lesson of that attitude as a souvenir.
Oh, we also loved the syrup waffle cookies – really good with hot chocolate!