Finally, I can say that I’ve made it to Amsterdam!
What a beautiful, lovely city, and as my dear friend Jaimie put it:
There are bikes on bikes on bikes.
There are bikes in the road, on the side walks, tied to fire hydrants, street lights, cars, people, buildings and other bikes.
There is also no shortage of canals.
The first day was stunning. The sun was shining and the air crisp. It truly felt like autumn at home.
Unfortunately, in the UK it rains quite a bit, not sure if you heard? So instead of beautifully colored leaves strewn about, you get piles of soggy ones.
But when you look this good with your Hunter’s on…bring on the rain baby!
But as this was not a vacation, there was work to be done! Off to the conference center…
And voila! The finished product. I think it looks pretty snazzy myself but I also worked on this booth for months, so of course I think it looks good!
But after all that mingling, the only thing on my agenda was din din & bed.
We stumbled across a fun little tapas bar located in the old Amsterdam city and jump started the evening with a pitcher of margaritas and a million plates of tiny tapas.
The funny thing about tapas or ‘small bites’, as some refer to them: a million small bites, quickly adds up to a whole lot of food.
We had garlic shrimp, potatoes, spanish tortilla, fried fish of the day, chorizo, cheese, sauteed veggies, mussels, calamari galore…steak, chicken, fried peppers, warm bread (not me of course), olives, bacon wrapped dates, spicy ham…
And we didn’t even have the munchies! (Giggle).
Although it probably would have helped justify the enormous amount of food we ate.
After dinner, we waddled our way through the Red Light District.
Honestly, you can’t travel to Amsterdam and not visit the famous Red Light District…to put simply, it was verrrrrrry interesting.
I saw more pleather undergarments that my eyes could handle.
The following night we took an evening boat cruise through the canals. I have to admit, I wouldn’t recommend the evening cruise, although, I didn’t test the day cruise either. It’s very dark and even though the city is ‘lit’, it’s not that bright.
I struggled a bit to make out the buildings and other sights along the canals, however, and interestingly enough, people in Amsterdam seem to prefer not to use curtains.
So you may not be able to see the historical monuments, but heck, you can see straight into each and every home along the canals.
I’ve heard a range of stories why curtains are not the norm in Amsterdam, from an old curtain tax, religious beliefs, a culture of ‘openness’ among residents. Mostly, I think people like to show off their gorgeous homes. Gorgeous. The houses are filled with libraries, beautiful chandeliers, wood beams, high ceilings. It wouldn’t take much for me to move into anyone of those beautiful homes.
Either way, it makes for a lovely evening float through the canals. Sort of like the PG version of the red light district, minus the pleather and red lights.
Seven Bridges Amsterdam is said to be one of the most photographed spots in the city. At night when all the bridges are lit, it gives the illusion of a tunnel. Can you see it?
It’s also known as the Tunnel of Love, awwww. Simply lovely.
We stayed at the College Hotel, which was a bit on the spooky side at night, but this boutique hotel was so interesting inside.
It’s an old 19th century school house, that has maintained all of its character. The hotel has even kept the tradition alive with a staff of students studying hospitality. They’re overseen by professionals of course – but the staff was energetic and very helpful. Always a plus, when I’m managing of group of 20+ in one hotel!
Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank house, Vondelpark, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam…I’m building quite a list.
Dank je Amsterdam.