Sunday, December 20, 2015

Amsterdam - 2015

2015 has been an exhausting year for me. You would probably gathered that by now, given the lack of posts here. Whatever few posts I've managed have all been mostly rants. Probably the only good thing that happened this year was that in September, the husband and I managed a 12 day getaway to The Netherlands and Belgium. I was most excited about Amsterdam. I've seen so many many gorgeous pictures of those nicely lit up canals, all that hype over their "coffee shops"(weed anyone?), the famed red light area etc.

So we flew down to Paris and then took the train to Amsterdam(a good decision). We managed to revisit the Eiffel(didn't get to click pics since it was raining) but nevertheless felt so good reminscing our good times in 2012. We then took the train to the Amsterdam Centraal and it was almost 9 pm local time when we landed. We found the tram waiting outside and headed to our area(Leidsegracht). We stayed at Hotel Leidsegracht(check out the trip advisor review). Good choice. Not great but decent. The area was bustling, which I loved. Loads of eateries and of course bars. The people seemed to be having a great time, no matter what day of week it was. So so different from my good ol' Chennai. And they were the locals. Not tourists.
What we did there?
Well for starters, we did not visit the Anne Frank house! There were huge lines. Lol.
The only super touristy thing we probably did was to visit the Rijks Museum and go click pics outside the I Amsterdam sign.Spot me if you can?

 And oh. Did I tell you that Amsterdam is known as the "cycling capital of the world"? Seriously. Its truly amazing. The air that you breathe there just feels so different. Clean and fresh. And oh did I mention "weedy". Haha
But seriously, I saw bikers of all ages and sizes. They even have a separate biking lane in all the main roads. Amazing!

 I loved the colors of this bus. And in case you are wondering, no we did not use this. We are too cool that way! :D

What we did do is to take long walks in the evenings. Almost all the canals are lit up and they look absolutely stunning. Sample this - 

I mean doesn't that look so so pretty? I could just sit around and stare at it all evening long. I loved just sitting around and people watching - kids on bikes, parents and kids riding bikes together, a 70 year old granny wearing a dress and biking along, college kids smoking up the place(In case you didn't know, marijuana is legal there)... It was all there. Peaceful and serene it was.

Once we got sorta bored of the city feel, we took a day trip to a place called Zaanse Schans. It is a really pretty countryside. We took a train from Amsterdam Centraal and enjoyed the scenic beauty. The main purpose of going there was to see Amsterdam's famed wind mills!

Once we landed at the station, we took a quick 5 minute walk.


There were little shops selling loads of souvenirs. Needless to say, K went crazy!
And we couldn't resist clicking silly pics of myself.

I never thought I would say this but I actually enjoyed my visit to the Rembrandt Museum. I'm not the artsy types at all but the way the museum was set up with a fabulous audio guide which chronicles the life of the artist in such an interesting fashion, had me hooked! Please do visit!

The walk on the red light area was another different experience. Nothing wild but just different. Skimpily clad women just staring and trying to lure men. And oh, there are curtains in each room. If the curtain is drawn, apparently it means that its taken. No pictures allowed! Sorry =) 

We ate a lot of Continental European food at Amsterdam. We enjoyed delicious tomato basil soups, vegetable pastas and pizzas and had no problems whatsoever in finding good vegetarian food. And in case you are wondering, no we did not eat at any Indian restaurants :D

I've handpicked a few of K's random Amsterdam shots. I absolutely loved being here and will definitely come back!! 

Stay tuned for my posts on Antwerp and Belgium(where I talk in detail about Bruges, Ghent and of course Brussels!).