AMSTERDAM JULY 2012
A whistle-stop tour of Amsterdam to fulfill a business training session.
Flew in to Schipol via Easyjet from Gatwick. Simple Gatwick Express from Victoria and a 40-minute flight. Charming views from the air of the Dutch coast in the evening sun on arrival. Boy is it flat.
The Netherlands has a 16m population squashed into 16,000 square miles – one of the world’s highest population densities. 60% of the country is farmed, and you can really see it from up here. Without the dykes, 65% of the country would be flooded daily, which is why the locals say “God made the earth but the Dutch made Holland.” That’s confidence for you.
We were initially fooled by a seemingly-knowledgeable cab driver who took us to the wrong Haarlemerstraat but we eventually get to this charming area just North-West of the main Centrum and check in to the Art Hotel Dulac http:www.arthoteldulac.nl which is clean and does the trick. Then for a wander around the canals and a pint or two of Trappist lager or the semi-lethal Sint Christoffel –approach with extreme caution.
A meal in Lindengracht at the Capri is a mixed bag which ends poorly. The order comes incorrectly, then their card machine doesn’t work, so we end up paying with our entire reserve fund of Euros. Our subsequent search for a cash machine finds them thinly dispersed in this part of town with the first two out of order. Eventually cashed up we retire to the hotel and sit on the street watching the extraordinary array of people wheeling past on an endless stream of bicycles.
The following day I do my stuff in Van Diemenstraat while Sarah visits the Frank Huis, scene of German atrocities and the famously-revealing teenage diary written by Anne Frank. I grab the bus to Centraal station and walk down Damrak to rendezvous in Dam Square for a well-earned beer in the Nieuwe Kafe, opposite the ubiquitous Madam Tussaud’s, and some guys offering horse and carriage rides.
Walking south down Rokin is a fairly nasty Oxford Street-style experience so we veer off into the side streets and eventually end up at The Hotel De L’Europe, where one can sit for a delightful low-level drink on the canal side and watch all the barges and boats go by, some full of drunk teenagers singing chart hits.
Indonesian meals are hot stuff in Amsterdam so we track down the Tujuh Maret (literally Seventh of March, inspired by their address, number 73) in Utrechtstraat. Firey chilli chicken nicely washed down with a beer or two. We finish on the canal side near Rembrandt Plein with a final bottle of the awkwardly-titled Baldy Sauvignon, which might prove a tad embarrassing for certain follically-challenged customers to order.
Then it’s off to the airport and back to blighty, but only after buying an inappropriate mug advertising the red light district and a pendant with a hash leaf on it. Some cultural elements never change.