As always with a vacation, there’s a bunch of miscellaneous items of interest that can’t really be collected into a specific “theme”. The places are widely scattered geographically, they’re small enough so that detailed posts aren’t called for, etc. Then there are all the general observations about the city and local customs.
This final post on Amsterdam will cover all of that, since you’re probably as tired of reading about it as I am of writing it.
One of the nicer areas in Amsterdam is the neighborhood known as “De Wallen”, as it is the area around the Voorburgwal and Achterburgwal canals, roughly between the Oude Kerk (“Old Church”, which dates back to the 1200s) and Nieuwmarket Square. It’s a surprisingly pleasant residential area, with trees along the canals, little alleys and side streets, and a bunch of bars and night spots all less than a kilometer away from the Central Station and about two minutes from the Damrak.
“De Wallen” is what you call it when you don’t want to say you’re going to the Red Light District…..
Even with all the museums and cultural landmarks in the area, the Zoo complex is not one of the centers of Amsterdam. The “transit hub” is by the Central Station and the Damrak and the civic center is at Dam Plaza (where you’ll find the Royal Palace and the National Monument). The cultural center is at Museumplein, a large open field surrounded by the Concertgebouw concert hall, the Stedelijk Museum of contemporary art and design, the Van Gogh Museum, the Moco Musuem of modern art, and, of course, the Rijksmuseum.
Of the five, the only one I visited was the latter.
One good thing about Amsterdam is that it’s a very compact city. Many of the points of interest are quite close together, making it easy to get around to them. For example, the Royal Zoo, the Hortis Botanicus (Botanical Gardens), the National Holocaust Museum, and the Dutch Resistance Museum are all within a kilometer of each other.
It makes it easy to visit them all in one day – especially when there’s a tram stop right in the middle of it all.
Unfortunately, the day I decided to visit that area, it was cloudy with scattered showers. Not the best time to be out in a zoo or in a botanical garden, however interesting they might be. But I was there, and I like birds and exotic plants, so…
The A’DAM Tower (capitalization in original) is the tallest building in Amsterdam, topping out at 22 stories. Yeah, I know, not really a lot compared to some cities. Though it’s fair to say that the ground in the area can’t really support a taller building, and it does offer awesome views. A quick ride up the elevator – which has a clear ceiling, so you can see a brief but cool light show as you zoom up- and you’re at the observation deck. If you’re feeling daring, there’s a swing that will take you over the edge….
Well, now that I’m arrived and settled in, it’s time to check out the sights.
It’s always good to get out of the city and visit the countryside (such as it may be). The Netherlands is (Are?) one of the more densely populated countries in the world, so there isn’t really that much “countryside” to speak of. And what there is, is flat and damp.
However, there’s still a good deal of “countryside” to see.
I booked a tour at Experience Waterland (through Trip Advisor) to see the windmills of Zaanse Schans, a “cheese farm” and wooden shoe maker, and the villages of Volendam and Broek in Waterland. It was a small group tour, and turned out to be even smaller when half of the people who signed up for it didn’t show. Their loss.
It was time once again to flee from work and most other responsibilities, and journey away to strange and distant lands. I realized I hadn’t used my passport in ages, so I felt it was time to blow the dust off it and head off to someplace interesting.
I asked around a little: Which place is more fun for a single adult male – London, Paris, or Amsterdam? The answer was clear, and given the title of this post, you should be able to figure out which city won.
In a rather short time, I will be making my first trip to Europe in over 20 years. Those of you who have been following this blog know that I do travel; but this is the first time in a long time that I have left the country. There’s so many things I have to pay attention to now.
If you must know, I stayed at the Loews Philadelphia in Center City. Centrally located, in easy walking distance of pretty much everything. Pricey, but worth it. Especially given the size of my bathroom! The service was excellent. I was pleasantly surprised to find that whenever I called Room Service for something, their phone system evidently brought up my name since it was always used in greeting. I did not dine at Bank and Bourbon, their in-house restaurant, but I did have a “rye flight” at their bar. I recommend Rough Rider Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye. I’ll have to track it down here at home.
As a baseball fan, I’ve been planning my vacations around the schedule so I can take in a game while I’m away. This time, I deliberately chose to go to Philadelphia so I could see the Phillies host the Mets. I hadn’t been to Citizens Bank Ballpark yet, so there was an extra reason for going.
All of Philadelphia’s sporting venues are clustered together at the southern end of the city. Mass transit is pretty good; the Broad Street subway line ends nearby. It’s a couple of minutes to walk to the stadium past acres of parking lots; it seems that’s the best they could do with all the new stadia construction coming after the subway was finished.