We are back from our trip to Amsterdam, and I am happy to report that it was another resounding success.
We have not been to Amsterdam before, and the city duly impressed us. It is certainly unique, having been built on the expansive network of man-made canals. It is certainly vibrant. It is also peaceful. It certainly has this quality that only a few cities of the world possess of drawing a visitor in and making him or her want to stay longer and come back again and again.
The canal-side architecture is a marvel, especially along the three major canals built in 17th century. Amsterdam does not offer any monumental architecture as many other Old World capitals do, but instead impresses with ingenuity, variety and palette of its residential buildings and warehouses. The occasionally crazy bicycle traffic, contrasted with tranquility of the water transport passage, fascinates the person who is not used to either. And if experiencing life of the city by walking its streets is not enough for you to feel culturally satisfied, you can find a number of great museums as well.
We are somewhat amazed at the fact that we managed to execute practically our plan-maximum for the trip. With our two kids, I must point out. Not only did we visit every museum on our list except one, but we also tried a variety of activities, such as joining a bike tour, renting bikes and riding around the city on our own, taking a river cruise, and pedaling around the canals on a water-bike. The latter – twice. We also tripped to the miniature Dutch village Madurodam in The Hague, to the full-size windmill village Zaanse Schans, to atmospheric Delft and to lively Utrecht.
We did not do much of the “forbidden” stuff. First of all, again, kids. Secondly, for a reason that I call old age, neither Natasha nor I hold any desire to experiment with marijuana or magic mushrooms or the like. We don’t believe that we are missing anything by never having tried, but if we are, well, so be it. As to the Red Light District, we went for a stroll one night after putting kids to bed, and came away a bit underwhelmed. Sex shops and shows hold no interest to us. Scantily clad girls in their windows were slightly amusing, but there were enough unattractive (by my personal definition, of course) or visibly bored ones to put a damper on any window-shopping. And the throngs of inebriated, horny and hooting males (I conservatively estimate a 1:15 proportion of women among the revellers) is, while obvious in such a place, not a very pleasant company.
Maybe if I went alone – and after having downed a few beers – I’d feel different. Or, maybe, I am just too happily married to appreciate this stuff (the audience should go O-o-o-o-oh at this point :p).
Anyway, we are back now, with only one major trip remaining on the schedule before our voyage home in August.
During our time away, I managed to get even older by a year. To all who called and emailed with their congratulations, my heartfelt thanks. I love you too, guys!
You can read our Amsterdam notes in the Travelog.