…and we went to Amsterdam. It was kind of spur-of-the-moment. We had about two weeks before our carefully researched and fully planned trip to Estonia. With a perfect excuse of wanting to acclimate to the European time to avoid jetlag, we unanimously picked Amsterdam as the place to be. So far so good.
Farewell to the Queen’s Day
We bought plain tickets without a hitch and went on booking an apartment via airbnb.com. Generally, in response to our inquiries, we got “So, you are coming for the Queen’s Day celebration” messages. Well, not really…, but it prompted some further research on behalf of this unfamiliar reference. As we discovered, Dutch celebrate Koninginnedag or Queen’s birthday on April 30th. However, 2013’s Queen’s Day would be even more special. Queen Beatrix announced that she would abdicate on that day after 33 years on the throne and the new King, Willem-Alexander, her son, would be inaugurated. Mind you, the Netherlands were ruled by Queens since 1890s, so having a King for the first time in more than 100 years could be quite exciting. By chance, we were going to be in Amsterdam during this historic event.
We found a fantastic apartment in Westernpark. For instance, it was far enough from the center to be perfect sleeping quarters, but close enough for us to walk everywhere without the need to use public transportation or renting bicycles.
Speaking of latter, bicyclists literally rule the traffic in Amsterdam. There are zillions of them zooming around the city, and they are expecting to be treated with the utmost respect by both, pedestrians and automobiles. It took couple walks, and a close encounter with one really grumpy bicyclist to get to grips with how properly navigate streets of Amsterdam.
One block off trick
Frankly, I loathe visiting tourists’ landmarks. In fact, it is very disheartening to find yourself surrounded by a crowd of loudly speaking, profusely sweating and bored visitors who feel compelled “to be there” just for the sake of… been there. Thus, we devised a simple trick that worked for us literally in every city, small or metropolis, we visited: just step one block off from any main street and suddenly your surroundings become eerily quiet, and you can actually feel the local aura.
Indeed, this time was no exception. On a first morning upon our arrival in Amsterdam, we walked along famous canals toward the center. At one point, we noticed an impressive, for the lack of a better word, line snaking along the buildings on the other side of the canal. That’s how we found the Anne Frank Museum. Farther ahead going along the canals, closer to the Dam, brought more crowds. However, even within the busy city center, stepping off the main streets led to completely different world of unspoiled history.
To avoid festive crowds we decided to skip customary sightseeings+museums+guided excursions. Instead, we enjoyed beautiful sunny weather, long lazy walks along equally lazy canals and tasty food. Speaking of latter, I was blown away by fantastic white asparagus served for lunch in Café Amsterdam.
Walk with me
If you ended up reading this post, you like to travel. Meanwhile, I believe that the best way to discover any city is by getting lost in the maze of side streets. Who needs maps! On the contrary, good walking shoes are a different matter. Ready? Let’s go – follow me on a day-long discovery of winding passages of Tbilisi of Georgia, climbing countless steps of Greek Kavala and learning secrets of Moroccan Azemmour. Likewise, history buffs would appreciate strolling through dazzling Vienna or Porto walkabout.