Once again, i am going to leave you with images only as I have been having too much fun exploring this eclectic city to sit inside and write about it!
Let me just get to the point...I love Amsterdam. I love the neat, compact, homes. I love that the art and music community has a strong presence here. I love the cobble stone streets and canals. I love the Dutch philosophy of life - live and let live. I could live here, but it's too damn cold most of the year. So with that settled, two months will suffice. We arrived without a hitch being that we were in the Netherlands already, Amsterdam Central Station was only a short train ride away. The apartment we rented was about a mile from the station, on Prinsengracht, and is tucked behind the main house in a former garden shed. After a cold beer from the pub down the street we headed home.
It's great to have our own living space again. We have room enough to cook and have a comfortable lounging area in addition to the loft bedroom. After a good nights sleep, I was ready to explore the neighborhood. I usually spend the morning walking the streets, headphones on, small Fuji X100t in hand. The city is really easy to navigate on foot, and there is excellent public transportation if needed. But nothing beats walking. You do have to watch for the bikes...there is nothing more frightening than a Dutch bike with the right of way. Dutch bikes always have the right of way.
We caught the first of 4 shows we have scheduled while here. We saw Andrew Bird at the Paradiso Theater, a former church and one hell of a venue. Four stories high, great acoustics and oozing with atmosphere. We timed our arrival pretty well, making our way to front and center stage just as the lights dimmed. Perfect.
May 5th is Liberation Day in the Netherlands and marks the day that German troops surrendered, ending WW2. Amsterdam holds memorial services and parades while others prefer cruise the canals or find a pup or coffee shop. The day was shaping up to be one of those rare events...perfect, clear, and warm on a holiday in a country that isn't known for its abundance of perfect, clear, sunny days. The Dutch love these kinds of days, especially after a cold winter.
Spending 10 days in Utrecht was never in the plan, but reworking the plan is half the fun. Six weeks was enough of Italy and it was time for a change in scenery. Besides, leaving Italy early allowed us to experience Kings Day in the Netherlands. This is the biggest of the Dutch holidays- think Fourth of July costume party held on the grounds of a giant flea market, only the flea market covers the entire country- There are concerts, food vendors, and parties on every corner. We had the pleasure of experiencing the coldest & wettest Kings Day celebration on record, so we spent most of the day ducking in and out of pubs and shops in between rain & hail showers. Regardless of the weather, we had a great time. I feel very comfortable here and love the Dutch way of life. The word gezellig is hard to define, but it is at the the center of Dutch culture and loosely translates to cozy. Thats good because we haven't experienced temperatures this cool in some time. Utrecht was a great stop for us. We had a superb host and our first functioning big screen TV in months. Next up...Amsterdam!