Monday, October 17, 2011

Amsterdam on the water

It has been ages since we blogged. In this time, we managed to get  several 'almost posts' that are awaiting a rewrite before being posted.
Given the very probable risk that they'll never be posted, the general assembly has hereby decided to post from now on, and only if possible to cover backwards the unfinished posts.

As you could guess from the title, we are in Amsterdam, enjoying a weekend of amazing weather. About 14 degrees but clear sunny skies.

Amsterdam is definitely one of the most beautiful places we have been to. The canals, the houses amazingly well maintained, nice people, Rembrandt House, State and Van Gogh museums.... We'd stay more if Dario didn't have to return for classes and if the B&B wouldn't cost almost 100 euro per night. The B&B/Hostels prices in Amsterdam are very high as you understood already and it took us an awful lots of time to find a place to sleep - everything was full one week before.

We arrived to Amsterdam by train with a connection in Mechelen that allowed us time for a draught Leffe Brown in a bar in from of the train station. After 3 hours, we were in Amsterdam. The first impression was a shock. First, as soon as we got of the train we became passive weed smokers - not even 5 seconds of grace. We guess that it was someone taking his last smoke before heading away. I read somewhere that Amsterdam's police planned to allow smoking pot outside of the coffee shops. Well, it seems this isn't imposed in any way. Second, the building of the train station is beautiful and perfectly light (we arrive at 20:50). Third and most important - the city was full at 21:00!!!! Somehow, after almost a month in Belgium we almost got convinced that everyone should be asleep at 20:00 :-)

Maria, the Swiss born house owner, came to pick us with her Vespa and led us through the red-lights district to our sleeping place which was perfectly located in a quite alley nearby the last eastern-most canal of the district.

So, what did we have: a night stroll in the canals, a day walk in the city, a cheese shop, Anna Frank's house with a street long queue, eating haring (smoked and non smoked) and smoked makarel, a visit to the state museum, Heineken's official store, french fries in a place called Chipsy Kings and a night sleep. The day later was also crazy - Van Gogh museum, with a great and very well focused Van Gogh exhibition + a cool guest exhibition on the influence of photography over modern drawing. Later we ran to Rembrandt's house - a great reconstruction of the house according to pictures by Rembrandt himself and a very detailed list made by his creditors when he went bankrupt. A nice walk in the canals took us to the train station and on to the more rural outskirts of Amsterdam to see windmills, numerous sheep, a cheese factory and a klompen (clogs) museum.

Pufff...that was a race, but the weather was on our side and we enjoyed every moment.

We collapsed into our train seats and headed to Belgium. We mistakenly get off the train in Mechelen to try to get a non-existing connection and finally made the connection through Brussels. It was midnignt, so we were lucky that the last train from Brussels towards Leuven was over half hour late. This made us feel two things:
1. Lucky
2. Feel at home, back in Belgium - probably there was a queue of trains somewhere, or there was a need to convince the driver to work after 20:00 :-)

In Leuven we quickly took a cab (something to remember) and arrived home for a late dinner and a short nap...classes at 9:00am....


PS - we managed to find a coffee shop that really sells coffee!

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