The Sylvan Dutch Landscape: A Lovely Childhood Memory
Sunday, June 20th, 2004: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Antwerpen to Amsterdam: 265 kilometres
We stayed up later than we had expected last night, sharing a nightcap and talking with our hosts Stephane and Michael, so we all sleep in a bit. After breakfast we have time only to walk into town and turn back around before we depart, a walk of about 1 hour in total. Stephane has told us of a beautiful Italianate church that we did not see yesterday, and so this is our destination. We are both glad for the exercise, having made a promise on this part of our trip to get more exercise, and glad to have seen this church. Not only is the church Italianate, the square in front has a distinctly Italian feeling, and we sit, in the Sunday morning sun, enjoying the feeling, listening as the bells call the faithful to Mass.
A Beautiful Stereotype.
We drive on back roads most of the way to Amsterdam, passing cattle, sheep and goats, crossing dikes and beautiful waterways. The sky is filled with big, billowing North Sea clouds – it is the sylvan type of Dutch landscape that we were taught about as children. A beautiful stereotype. The road eventually snakes into the major highway for Amsterdam and we have instructions to park outside the city and grab the metro into Centraal Station and then it is a quick bus ride to our bed for the next three days. We are staying on a lovely side canal, in a converted warehouse in Jordaan, and our host Stanislaw greets us with a little bit of bewilderment: he is expecting us tomorrow! I pull out our printed e-mail and sure enough we are booked for three days commencing tomorrow. Everything is fine as he explains that his last guest left this morning and he is not booked.
We get our bearings and receive a call from our friends Michiel and Fred, who live in Amsterdam and whom we met while we were in Bali. Michiel has generously offered to show us around tomorrow and, in particular, to take us to some sites outside of Amsterdam that we might not have had the opportunity to see. They refer us to a famous happy hour bar in Amsterdam, (isn’t it always happy hour here?!) and we head towards the central area, skirting the Anne Frank Huis, the Liedseplein and the Dam, crossing numerous bridges and canals before ending up near the beautiful Bloemmarkt for our beer.
It is a lovely late Sunday afternoon, the sun still very high in the sky. It won’t get dark until after 10:30 p.m.