Here is my advice: if you really want to almost ruin an anniversary weekend away, lose a brand-new camera [see post below]. The careless loss I effectuated by (probably) leaving our camera in the backseat of a taxi in Amsterdam could maybe be forgiven were it not for the fact that I dropped our last brand-new camera in January.

Yael’s luck with cameras in 2008: 0 for 2

Bryan’s waning patience with scatterbrained and costly wife: too waning to count

So you will forgive the stock photography that will help narrate this post.

Amsterdam is everything people say it is (profound, I know). Hundreds of canals, hundreds of bridges, beautiful magnificent canal-side homes, boats, houseboats, every single person on a bike, “coffee shops,” red light district, tulip bulbs for sale at the flower market, quirky and lovable Dutch people, art, cafes, parks and beautiful neighborhoods to walk through.

Saturday was glorious weather so we stayed outside the entire time, and ate and drank at canal-side cafes. It is so easy for a visitor to absolutely marvel at how every single person in Amsterdam rides a bike. It is as natural as walking or driving for Dutch people. You see moms and dads balancing multiple children on bikes, people biking while walking their dogs, talking on a cellphone, carrying flowers and bags and biking along side a friend and chatting. Men in suits, women in skirts, children, elderly. Everyone bikes. The bikes are worn and rusty and totally utilitarian and they are only sometimes locked up, but look like they are rarely stolen. And no helmets, ever. In fact, I think the most dangerous people are the people on bikes.

The canals are where it’s at. 47 miles of them, over a thousand bridges, incredible homes, 2,500 houseboats, party boats, tours, leisurely water gawkers. Groups of people seem to troll the canals via boat and people-watch at the leisurely and enjoyable rate of a St. Tropez yachter, with a lot less pomp and circumstance. We did a canal tour on a bigger boat- a chain called “CanalBus” which had the unfortunate bad luck of being a prime target of pranksters painting over just one letter. We giggled all day long when its boats would pass, with huge lettering on the side announcing: “Hop on! Hop off! All day anal cruises!”

We celebrated one almost-year of marriage at the fancy La Rive, on the Amstel canal. So many firsts that night… I wore my new Kate Moss for Topshop dress, curled my hair, lost our camera and ate wagyu beef so expensive I am actually ashamed. It was good, but not that good.

Later in the weekend we sampled Dutch beers and met up with our friend Vanja, who came in from Rotterdam to have dinner with us. Vanja is the 21 year-old beautiful former au pere of Bryan’s cousins in Virginia. Now you might be thinking why did I want us to meet up with a beautiful Dutch 21 year-old former au pere, when just the words “au pere” trigger something unholy in a man? Because she’s sweet, and I love her. And I am awesome.

We also took in the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. Both were excellent, and I actually learned some new things. For example:

  • Van Gogh is not pronounced “Van Go” like Americans think it is. The “Gogh” is pronounced in a way that completely eludes phonetic spelling and if you want me to teach it to you, I say, act like you’re coughing up a stubborn hairball. That is the sound.
  • Van Gogh did not cut off his entire ear and mail it to a woman. He got in a fight with Gauguin and was also depressed and epileptic, and cut off part of the lobe.
  • I did buy some prints, sue me. But not Starry Night.
  • We are both Van Gogh fans. Like I said, sue me.
  • I am fascinated by artists who become famous after their death. Vincent (we’re on a first-name basis) was basically painting only for his brother during his lifetime.
  • Speaking of famous after, the Anne Frank House did not disappoint. It was an exacting and sensitive treatment of the unbelievably true story of her family hiding in the annex of a canal house in Amsterdam for two years.
  • All Anne Frank wanted was to be a famous writer. And I hope she knows her dream came true.

P.S. Amsterdam is nothing like Hamsterdam. If you know what I mean.



Filed under bryan, fiscal responsibility, travel

7 responses to “amsterdam

  1. Joe

    So how many times did you slip and refer to Amsterdam as Hamsterdam? And not even the red light district can be compared to Hamsterdam?

    Sounds like an awesome weekend. Very cool. And sorry about the camera. Bummer. 😦

  2. kate

    the crazy thing is, all over the netherlands, EVERYONE rides bikes like that! It’s pretty amazing. and, they don’t get stolen.

  3. Brian

    Not kidding… I had my bike stolen off my front porch this weekend…

  4. yael

    Oh no, that sucks! I thought people were nice in Bflo.

  5. I’m from Brasil and ended up here by the title (Amsterdam). As a kid I dreamed of travel to 2 places: Fernando de Noronha (this incredible place in the brazilian ocean) and Holland.
    Last year I was in Amsterdam for 4 days.
    Besides a dream come true, the city was also a big and amazing surprise.
    The people there were incredibly nice, polite, calm and happy. The city is distance walk. The museums are stunning, Anne Frank gave me goosebumps… and I could go on for hours.
    Glad that after the annoying incident with your camera, you had fun on your “almost-anniversary”.

  6. PW

    Late comment I know, but as a Dutch person I have to say bikes are stolen all the time (especially in Amsterdam). But don’t worry, when it does get stolen, you’ll be able to buy one for €25 from a junkie who’s probably stolen it from someone else. I think there are something like 50 million bikes in the Netherlands, for 17 million people – so there’s plenty to go around!

    Funnily enough, the Brits pronounce Van Gogh as Van Goff – but at least its closer to the original. Both Gs in Van Gogh are pronounced as a harsher version of the J in Spanish (although Americans often wrongly pronounce this as a ‘h’).

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