EuroTrip: Amsterdam Day One
We arrived in Amsterdam on Friday afternoon, after taking a Red Eye from New York. First impression: Yowzah that’s a lot of bikes!
Amsterdam is a pretty cool city. We started the afternoon after checking in by walking around the place and checking out the canals. It was a little quiet at first, once we walked away from the transit hub at Centraal Station near where we were staying. Friday afternoon is not a place you expect to be bustling with people necessarily, but when you’re used to New York City quiet streets in the middle of the day are odd.
Bike travel was clearly supreme. There were plenty of cars parked and the occasional driver did navigate the tiny streets, but it was bikes that you had to look out for. It’s a confusing experience getting used to having to watch bike lanes in addition to the actual streets. You find yourself turning your head back and forth a lot making sure you spotted all the traffic, and occasionally my brain would forget to process the cyclist as being someone I needed to cede right of way to or just generally be aware of. Streets with bike lanes and canals don’t leave a lot of sidewalk space for walking, and even the streets that do have wide walks usually have bikes parked along side and chained up to poles, railings, or simply themselves.
Interesting to me was the parking. Often it was parallel to the canals, and all I could think of was a bad driver parking a wee bit too close to the edge and falling in as they exited or entered their vehicle. It’s no surprise that traffic always seemed to be in the direction that put the driver’s side of the car next to the canal to keep people who don’t know how wide their car is from accidentally driving into a canal. We stopped at a brown cafe for lunch and beers. I had some bitterballen, which are these little fried balls of meat and potato. They were delicious and I regret that I didn’t eat more and more of them. The beer available at this cafe was Bavaria Premium Pilsener, which seems to be a common selection in The Netherlands. It wasn’t anything really special, but it was my first beer abroad so I’ll cut it some slack.
After walking around a little we checked out the Tattoo museum, which isn’t really my thing. It was interesting to see some of the tattoos though, particularly the stuff from older cultures. Then we went somewhere that IS my thing; the brewery!
Brouwerij ‘t IJ is a brewery under a windmill with a terrific set of beers that are also organic. Their Plzen was tasty, although I’d long be tired of the style by the time this trip was over. I also had the Columbus which I picked because I assumed that it would be hoppy based on the name. It was an amber beer with a nice hop profile, and was really tasty. It was one of the few hoppy beers I’d have on my trip to Europe.
After that we meandered our way back to the hotel. It was a pretty walk, and we were still taking in the landscape of the beautiful city. We went up to the sky bar in the hotel to see what it was about. They only had a small snack menu and the basic beer selection, so we just took in the view of Amsterdam from up there and went back to our room. After a red-eye flight we were wiped, so we went to bed and vowed to get an early start the next day.