Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Happens in Amsterdam

Stays in Amsterdam?

Unless you blog about it, I suppose. I'm not sure what made me think of that slogan in the first place; I guess Amsterdam just strikes me as a Vegas-like city. With somewhat less neon. And a lot more water.

Morgan, Emily and I headed out to Amsterdam on the evening of August 9. We'd decided to take our trains in the evening so that we could wake up in our destination city and not waste half the day getting to the place. We connected through Antwerp, which has a pretty cool train station. It's like a good airport - clean, open, and with decent snack options.

It also has trains (not pictured).
After a few hours of watching the Dutch countryside roll by (green fields, cows, flat, a couple of windmills), we arrived in Amsterdam. We decided to catch a tram to the area where our hotel was. It seemed that the trams would pull up a little back from the stop to let everyone get out, then pull forward when they were empty (the train station was the end of the line) and load up again. This was apparently a really hard concept for people to grasp. They started shoving to get back to where the tram had stopped (passengers still unloading at this point), and then when they were unable to get on and the tram started moving forward, people stepped out in front of it to get a better position at the stop. Jobs to expect in hell: Amsterdam tram driver.

The hotel was fine, although three beds pretty much took care of the floor space. I mean, two beds pretty much took care of the floor space; adding in another one meant that we could easily play "the floor is made of lava." Emily and Morgan got caught in a downpour coming back from dinner that night (I had stayed in, being more tired than hungry). In the morning, we got coffee at Headfirst Coffee and then went off to rent bikes. The proprietors of the bike rental shop were less than friendly (if you hate tourists, why do you work in tourism?), and the bikes were not the best-maintained I'd ever seen, but we were determined to get ourselves thoroughly lost as fast as possible so we pedaled on. (About getting lost - we were obviously not trying to get lost, but one thing about riding bikes is that it certainly enables you to go well past where you should have gone before you notice anything amiss. You can fly right off the edges of your tourist map awfully easily.)

We headed into the city center to find the Anne Frank House. It's right around the corner from a big church, the Westerkerk. Around the edge of the square was a long line of people, which we speculated was maybe to go up in the church tower or something.

As it turns out, this was the line for the Anne Frank house. Across, then down the block, then across to the middle of the next block where the house actually is. We took a quick vote, the results of which were: Ixnay on the Anne Frank house-ay.

Instead, we went into the Westerkerk.
That is a crown on top.

Not the most exciting church I've ever seen, but Protestants built it, so what can you do? Rembrandt is buried there ... somewhere. No, seriously, they say "probably along the north wall." Another claim to fame? Anne Frank wrote about hearing the bells of the church. Snobs of the tangible that we are, we took some photos and went on our way. Stay tuned.

It took them 50 years to decide to add an organ. Protestants.

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