Days 11-12: Amsterdam & Random Events

And then there was one – one last stop, that is. We arrived in Amsterdam on yet another beautiful late morning, and after finally getting streetcar passes, we were on our way.  Here are notable thoughts & events:

1. It’s a visually appealing city that was built on marshland, so you’re always near a canal that is well-traveled by the city’s boaters. In the evening, the lights glitter off the water, creating a romantic setting as you stroll the streets.

2. There are simply an amazing amount of bicycles everywhere.  We saw women in skirts and men in suits riding to work, and parents riding with their children to school. As a pedestrian, you have to pay attention or you’re asking for a collision.

3. Marijuana is legal there (for now), at least in “coffeeshops,” though it was in more places than that. And it was literally the first thing we smelled upon stepping off the street car for the first time. The highlight for me – on this subject – was when the alarm went off in our hotel on the second night. It stopped after a brief period, but when Aaron inquired with front desk, it turns out someone was smoking in their room.  Ha! Yeah we smelled that too…

4. Don’t stay at the Hotel Mozart if you go – definitely the worst room of our trip.

5. As we were riding to the center of town, we came up numerous armored police vehicles. The streetcar stopped, we heard a gunshot, and then they made us exit right there!  It turned out to be some kind of protest that the (hundred) police did not want to tolerate.  The police presence was serious, and I really wanted to leave.  Aaron wanted to stay and take pictures, but I eventually made him leave.  I’m still not sure what the gunshot was about.

6.  Dutch men are, in general, very tall. I mentioned this, and Aaron said he had read the average height is 6’1. Wow.

7. We were eating a late lunch streetside one day, and a lady who was passing by stopped, rambled in a gruff voice (think crazy cat lady from The Simpsons), and chugged the remainder of my beer. Aaron & I sat in a brief state of bewilderment and then burst out laughing. 

8. The Van Gogh Museum was too crowded to enjoy. I enjoy his paintings, but enduring the 20 other people around one of them takes away from it.

9.  The Ann Frank House is definitely worth visiting. What an amazing, moving story.

10. Amsterdam ranks in the top two of livable cities that we visited.

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