Thursday, 29 November 2012

You don't have to put on the red light...






So, in between the madness of new jobs, resignations, house sales and packing box assault courses, S and I went to Amsterdam for our Anniversary on 18 November.

We landed early at 9.30 but what should've been a straightforward train journey straight from the airport to the centre of Amsterdam took quite a bit longer as the airport train station was closed for the weekend and we had to get a bus to a different train station instead.  We had to queue for over an hour as one bus after another filled up (not helped by folk randomly walking to the front of the queue feigning ignorance whilst we fumed in polite British queuing style at the back!)



Anyway, that was the only hiccup the whole weekend.  I had been to Amsterdam once before for my sister's hen weekend but hadn't really seen much, to be honest.  This time, we walked and walked and walked.  It's so big and every block looks the same as the one before it! Don't get me wrong, the canals, the bridges, the stunning tall, skinny houses are all so beautiful but I was very glad that S is so good with maps and directions or I'd still be wandering around looking for the hotel!

Tiny doors!

More tiny doors!

Our hotel, Die Port Van De Cleve, is in the location of the old Heineken brewery and is just off Dam Square.  Much like Krakow, Amsterdam catered brilliantly for vegans with several vegan/veggie restaurants dotted about.  We visited TerraZen three times for lunch - run by a Caribbean man and his beautiful Japanese wife the choice of food was amazing and everything we tried was totally delicious.

TerraZen - the best veggie lunches in Amsterdam!

We went to another  three veggie restaurants for dinner and again all the food was amazing.  The thing we noticed was that in each restaurant there was a resident cat or dog who just wandered around amongst the diners.  I know some people wouldn't like that and it certainly wouldn't be allowed in the UK with all the hygiene regulations but I guess that folk who eat in veggie restaurants are animal lovers and so, it didn't seem to bother anyone.

How anyone remembers where they parked their bike is a mystery!



I'd been given a tip by someone at work to pre-book the Anne Frank House as the queues were always really long.  We were glad that we did as we arrived at the pre-booked time slot and walked straight in whilst everyone else queued right round the building!  It was really interesting to see although I had ignorantly assumed that after she hid she must've survived so I was gutted to learn that in fact they'd been found when someone told on them and that Anne Frank and her sister and mother had all perished in Bergen Belsen after all.  It just seemed even more tragic after hiding all that time.





The Van Gogh Museum was closed for refurbishment while we were there so we went to the Rijksmuseum instead.  It was brilliant to see such amazing work by Rembrant and many other Dutch artists that I'd honestly never heard of before.  One of them, Willem Craesz Heda did incredible photorealistic still life paintings and as soon as I saw them I immediately thought of Sandra and her amazing glass paintings!





We visited the red light district on the Saturday night - so many people milling about (mostly men!) I like to think I'm fairly broad-minded when it comes to the ways of the world but I couldn't help thinking how young most of the girls seemed to be and how very skinny.  It was funny how as we went away from the main streets with their prime window positions, the ladies became ever older and less nubile - such is life, always to be replaced by younger models!




A strange thing happened one evening just at the edge of the Red Light District when we were waiting to cross a road and a man walked towards us with his little French Bull Dog, which we saw quite a few of during our break. I did my usual melting 'aw look, she's so cute' and Steve made that sort of clucking/clicking noise you make to encourage animals (not to be mistaken for the tsk tsk noise when something annoys us!) Anyway, the man came right over to us and started making the noise too.  I didn't think anything of it but then he stopped just a little past us and kept looking over.  I was still cooing at his dog and totally oblivious but eventually wondered why he was staring in our direction.  We started to walk on then and he said (in a voice exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger even though he's Austrian and not Dutch!) 'Yes, you better walk away, very quickly'!! It was only then I realised he was talking to us and that S had obviously offended him by making the clicking noise! Anyone have any ideas - is it offensive to admire someone's dog in Holland??




Anyway, apart from the strange dog man, it was a great short break where we saw plenty of culture, history and slightly sleazy reality which gave us a much needed break from house sales and packing boxes if only for a couple of days!

I was going to try to do a quick watercolour sketch from our photos so I could legitimately take part in Paint Party Friday but I just didn't find time.  So, I'm going to be cheeky and link up anyway, even though there is no actual art to speak of (unless I can count the really cute owl cushion we found in a craft shop thinking it was an unusual Dutch souvenir only to discover exactly the same owl cushions in a little shop in Scotland when we were house hunting the following weekend!!)

Not such a unique owl cushion after all - still at least we can get it a partner in Scotland!

28 comments:

  1. what an amazing place to celebrate your aniversary! Bautiful photos, it is sad about the young prostitutes, such a difficult life.
    Glad that man didn't punch your fella, I have no idea what it could mean but I will remember if I ever go not to to make that sound, but my husband does that when he calls a dog to him too!Beautiful photos,you both look so happy!

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  2. That is a wonderful post, full of weird and wonderful happenings... cultural differences lead to so many weird situations... I don't miss life on the road for that reason... you are a wonderful photographer ... thanks so much for sharing
    T xx

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  3. Love this opportunity to experience Amsterdam vicariously through your blog. Thank you! I hope to go someday. Gorgeous photos. I love your haircut and scarf, and that owl is too cute! :)

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  4. Enjoyed your post immensely! Happy PPF

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  5. Love this post, I went to Amsterdam years ago, on my own (brave) and visited a lot of the places you did. About the man and dog, I think you came up against a strange one there! I loved Amsterdam and the people.

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  6. Great pictures, and I'm glad you had such a good time in my country. I have to apologize for the man with the dog though. We have crazy people here in Holland too.

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  7. Great pictures of Amsterdam, glad you got one of you and s together :) Good luck with the house hunting in Scotland

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  8. What an amazing trip- thanks for sharing all the amazing photos!

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  9. Well, firstly - thank you so much for your amazing compliment on my glasses! I'm amazed that you thought of me! :0)
    I laughed throughout your post because Paul and I have also been to Amsterdam. We also stayed in a hotel just off Dam Square - though I can't remember what it was called. Of course we did all the galleries and museums we could fit in, but we also did the red light district, though purely by accident! But we noticed exactly the same as you - that the further out from the centre we walked, the older and *ahem* wider the ladies got, lol! And there was a man who began following us. Suddenly he started saying to us, 'Marijuana-Marijuana' ... We walked a little faster. 'Marijuana-Marijuana' he said again. 'No thank you' we said as we hurried a little faster. 'Cocaine, Cocaine', he said as he also walked faster. We didn't answer. 'Cocaine, Cocaine', he said again. At this point we abruptly turned round and said, 'NO THANK YOU'!!
    There was a moments silence before he whispered ........'Viagra?'
    At this point we just ran away, but it was an amusing moment, lol!

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  10. Lovely photos of your anniversary travels!
    Glad you had a great time!!
    ♥♥♥
    Happy PPF!!
    Mary
    Mixed-Media Map Art

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  11. Thank you for sharing your special memories and funny stories. Loving your gorgeous owl and what was in the H&M Bag..........mmmmmmm Happy PPF, Annette x

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  12. Awe, Congratulations on your anniversary! AND Amsterdam is my absolutely favorite city in the world! We honeymooned there . . . and since you were so close to the Heineken museum, I hope you made your way there too. Funny dog man . . . xoxo

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  13. Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary. Thanks for sharing all the gorgeous photos! Happy PPF!

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  14. Thanks for the tour, it was fun. Great photos.

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  15. Happy anniversary!! You are so cute-you look like you belong in Holland-or even Sweden for that matter. You're a lovely couple. Amsterdam looks like an amazing place to visit-I love Europe but never got to Amsterdam....yet :). Don't know about the dog thing-I know I'd have been in the same boat as I'm always approaching animals of all kinds. Love your owl cushion too. Thanks for sharing and happy PPF!

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  16. Thank you for sharing your pictures. I love all the small doors and skinny houses. I've never been there, maybe someday. Love the owl also...cute! Happy PPF!

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  17. What a lovely spot to go visit. people sure are touchy anymore. bummer he put a blight on your visit even if a little one. HPPF anyways. :) Thanks for visiting me.

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  18. I have just become a new follower. I find I have missed much. I like the new name too. Someone told me to make my photos smaller to post on blog and it doesn't fill up so fast.

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  19. Beautiful photos and I find the man with the dog's behavior so odd that I passed the link to this post to a Dutch friend of mine to see if she can make some sense out of it. (Her name's "Holland," btw, if you haven't met already on Blogger)...in case she comments. :)

    Have a great weekend!

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  20. What fun to travel to Amsterdam with you. I love that place. Great photos. Happy PPF

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  21. Happy anniversary. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful pictures. I went to Europe for ten days with my son's soccer team years ago. We got off the plane from the USA and immediately got on a bus. Then on to a boat in Amsterdam for a very short tour and then back on a bus. I saw more of Amsterdam through your pictures than when I was actually there. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip.

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  22. Oh, that looks and sounds like you had a great time! Seeing all those pictures almost makes me homesick ... When I still lived in Belgium I regularly went to Amsterdam for a weekend, and I love this city. Mind you, almost every time I've been there, I bumped into some kind of weirdo. I guess cities like that also attract some really weird people. In general Dutch people are just really kind (I should know since my hubby is Dutch) and I don't think "normal" people are offended when you make a (friendly) noise at their dog ;-)

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  23. Looks like you two had a wonderful trip, and probably a very much needed break from packing. Your photos are great.
    Amsterdam is such a fun city just to wander around in, I would love to go back again. We were there for over a week, and still only did a fraction of the things that looked really interesting.

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  24. I loved holland and just meandering around the cities! I loved seeing your pics - it brought back so many wonderful memories x

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  25. I enjoyed your visit in Holland, with all these great photos, thank you! Congrats in your anniversary and happy PPF!

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  26. Your pictures made me want to visit Amsterdam! Beautiful--Hope the packing is going well!

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  27. Hi Nicola, thanks for taking me on the holiday to Amsterdam with you. I really enjoyed seeing your pictures and hearing about your experiences. And what's up with those tiny doors?

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  28. What a fun trip. That dog man sounded crazy. Your photos are stunning!

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