02 May 2015

Amsterdam by abbieredmon


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I took a morning stroll around Vondelpark, which was pretty quiet at about 9:30 a.m., save for The Serious Joggers and a few cyclists. And one guy taking odd photographs of a stack of chairs at a not-yet-open café in the park.

After exiting the park, I popped into a supermarket (Albert Heijn -- they're everywhere!) and bought a small picnic lunch.

I consumed my picnic lunch (mostly fruit, to be honest) on the grass planted on top of the slant-roofed Albert Heijn at the south end of the Museumplein, a nice big green space in front of some of the major museums like the Van Gogh, the Rijksmusem, and the Stedelijk Museum.

It was so nice sitting in the sun, I almost didn't get up. But there were things to see, so off I went.

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Do all street markets seem the same sometimes? I think they do. It's just different kitsch. In Holland, it's tulips and Dutch clogs.

But still, I went to see the Albert Cuyp Market, because that's what one does. As it was a sunny, warm-ish Saturday, it was positively SWARMED with people. I stood no chance of squeezing in at any of the cool cafés, so after a mandatory stroll through the booths, I had a quick tea at a rather impersonal café on the outskirts and was off again.

This market is in the De Pijp neighborhood, which is very hip and Brooklyn-like. I bought a simple silver ring at one of the shops I passed, because I was half-heartedly looking for one, and it was 4 euros.

Then I came across a bike rental shop, and as it WAS so sunny, I thought, Why not? The owners were a Greek couple, and while the man was almost irritatingly friendly, the woman was nice and straightforward. They got me set up on a bike, and off I went for the afternoon.

(Really, I have no excuse for not taking more photos.)

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My first Amsterdam bicycle adventure was off to a solid start.

I was a bit nervous, to be honest. The Dutch are very comfortable on their bicycles, and they're also very... to the point. There are bells dinging all the time, and fairly deft maneuvers being made by people on what are basically city beach cruisers in skirts and high heels. There are very particular rules that cyclists abide by -- mostly the rule that as long as it's generally safe-ish, you just get on with things, because cyclists really do rule in this city.

So, there I went. I ended up doing a tour of several Amsterdam parks, including Westerpark (the east end is nice-ish, with some cafés and ice cream spots), Rembrandtpark (fairly dull and uninspiring), and back to Vondelpark, which, now that the weekend was in full swing (and everyone was awake), was busy, busy, busy.

I was mildly thrilled to be a part of the cycling throng, quietly dinging my bell to give gentle reminders to pedestrians and (fellow) tourists who were otherwise oblivious.

Yes, I could get used to this.

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The Greek couple closed their bike shop at 5:30 p.m., so I had to drop my bicycle off by then.

Because I was close to it, I then had an early dinner at an African/Ethiopian restaurant called Azmarino, which a Swedish friend recommended to me.

And it was a fantastic recommendation. I was the only person in the restaurant for a bit, until another couple came in. The owner/chef was at the back table, chatting with two friends, and even though the two friends didn't work there, we chatted a bit about the menu and about Amsterdam while the chef started cooking.

I've been to a few Ethiopian restaurants before, and the food here did not disappoint. Unsurprisingly, the lamb dish I picked was my favorite, but the lentils were good, too, and I gorged on the spongy injera bread -- freaking delicious.

It was a long walk back to my AirBnB, but I used it to walk off some of the calories I had just consumed. Because it's nearing summer, the days are long in the Netherlands -- the sun doesn't set until 9-ish, and it stays light until almost 10 p.m. That's one of my favorite things about summertime.