In a nutshell--Thursday was a very long day after a very short night. I'm still trying to get my "body clock" adjusted and kick this jet lag. I couldn't sleep last night, so today seemed like a l-o-o-o-ng day.
We enjoyed a nice. slow start to our day (me especially-since I hadn't slept last night). We had several cups of coffee, ate a yummy breakfast, and made plans for our day.
We needed to accomplish a couple of things today--other than enjoying Amsterdam. We wanted to buy a 7 day tram pass at the big Central Train Station. After consulting our handy map, we decided it looked like a nice walk--and it was. We took the "scenic route" winding our way through some narrow old streets lined with lovely old buildings. We made it to the station and bought our passes.
On our way to the train station--these are some pretty buildings a few blocks from our apartment:
We thought now was a good time to explore the area right around the station. It's a very old area of Amsterdam, with narrow streets that look like Daigon Alley from the Harry Potter movies!
As we were making our way from the station we noticed some very dark and threatening clouds. What? I'd carefully checked the weather forecasts this morning, and it looked like a nice day ahead. And--I believed them! So I decide I'd lighten my load and leave my umbrella at home, as well as taking off the fiddly hood from my jacket.
When will I ever learn?
Just as we crossed the canal in front of the station, it started to pour--and it was blowing sideways! Then the rain turned into sleet--and I was soaked! After about a block, I cried "uncle" and we ducked into a nice little Pub for a hot cup of coffee. The waiter/bartender was a friendly, funny fellow and we had a nice conversation with him.
After a half an hour or so the storm passed and the sun came out! It was still windy and chilly though.
We wandered the maze of streets near the station, and soon found ourselves in Amsterdam's famous (or infamous?) Red Light District. Of course I'd read all about it, it's quite the tourist attraction. It wasn't on our list of "must sees"--it all seemed kind of sad to me. But here we were--right in the middle of it! Thankfully, it was before noon--so there really wasn't much activity, although we noticed one scantily attired "working gal" in a window. It's an odd concept--there are small "rooms" with windows facing the street, and the "horizontal working ladies" pose in the windows to advertise their wares. You can knock on the window and discuss business with them. Their apartments are upstairs above their windows. I've read that it's VERY busy in the evenings, and quite the spectacle. Not our idea of interesting…..we took the next right turn and were "outta there".
Narrow street near the red light district--pretty buildings, but very tacky tourist style:
Next on our agenda was to find a bank and an ATM to get some more Euros. The first one we tried didn't like our cards, and neither did the second or third. For some odd reason, banks seem to be scarce in Amsterdam. We wandered for blocks, and didn't see a single bank. After about two hours looking, we were both frustrated & a bit cranky! We agreed it was time to regroup, have lunch and maybe even a beer! We found a nice little cafe and shared a delicious goat cheese, beet & walnut salad and a goat cheese, grilled vegetable & honey paninni. Both were very good. It was just the relaxing break we needed, we had at good laugh, shook off our frustrations and decided to forget about the ATM for awhile!
Next up: Find the cute little shop where I'd bought some great felted wool slippers a few years ago. I've just about worn them out--and this was a good opportunity to buy a new pair. Thanks to my preprinted directions we found the shop easily, but they didn't have any left in my size. Rats!
That was about STRIKE THREE for the day!
But…..near the wool slipper shop we did find an ATM that liked our cards. Whew!
Pretty canal scene--the church bell tower in the background is the one Anne Frank talks about in her diary. The house where she and her family hid from the Nazis is just a few houses away from the church.
Finding the right tram line to get home was a challenge, to put it mildly! We were thoroughly confused and walked several blocks in the wrong direction (more than once!) trying to find the right tram line. It was not our finest "Travelin' Lundbury" moment ;}
Just as I was about ready to give up we spotted…………a specially beer shop!! Then I had the best idea of the day: We'd buy some beer & chips and spend the rest of the day relaxing on our balcony. We picked out some interesting beer, bought some chips, and finally found the right tram to take us home.
Home at last! We poured ourselves a well-deserved cold beer, took our chips and settled in on our lovely canal-side balcony. We lasted about 15 minutes--it was c--o-l-d out there!
The view was good, though. Looking up the canal--there's a small park across the way:
Looking down the canal
We gave up and came inside--and we both took a much needed nap!
We woke feeling refreshed and ready to head out for dinner. We'd noticed a Vietnamese restaurant a few blocks away, and a big bowl of hot Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) sounded just right to us. It was delicious and really hit the spot. I ordered the one with 4 kinds of beef--which included cow stomach. I could have done without the stomach stuff--it wasn't the best! David, being much smarter, ordered just the 3 kinds of beef Pho.
Don't let this picture fool you--he asked for a fork! No chopsticks for David!