Sunday, August 30, 2015

Amsterdam with Stuart, a Local Resident and Friend

One of my favorite places in Europe is Amsterdam.  I've spent a good deal of time in and around the city.  It is probably the most friendly major city I have ever visited. 

Bicycles parked at Central Station
The pecking order for "right-of-way" in the city seems eminently fair: bicycles first (don't get in their way or you may loose an eardrum from the loud bells); pedestrians second and autos third (unless of course you are a taxi as they pay no attention to pecking order!)  It is a city where there are literally more bicycles that there are people.  Sounds a bit odd, but just go the the Central Station in Amsterdam's heart and see the three story bicycle parking lot/garage..and these are just for commuters taking the train in from outside the city for work!

We finished a Viking River Cruise in Amsterdam - started in Budapest - and were only spending one night there before taking trains to London.

Major Canal - the Herengracht
Luckily I have a good friend who resides in Amsterdam. He had made plans to join us for the evening. Stuart met my wife Dianne and I at our hotel, just a canal or two from the Central Station, and we headed off for a leisurely walk about the city. 

Houseboats of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a very picturesque city with its canals, varying architecture, gables and, especially, resident riverboats.  We were actually walking towards Stuart's neighborhood and the restaurant he had chosen for dinner: a Tapas place that had a good selection of small bites - at reasonable prices.  It also had a very good wine list...and since we weren't driving, we imbibed freely!

The Don Quiote is for Tapas and Hapas.  It had a fine selection of both typical Spanish tapas as well as some definite Dutch derivatives...maybe some things you might expect to see at a typical (and very popular) Indonesian Rijsttafel or rice table (sort of the Indonesian version of Tapas usually consisting of 20 to 35 small bites).

Some of the Tapas we Consumed
We explored the menu and had some of this, some of that, and a little more of some other stuff (shrimp, potatoes, cheese, sausage, etc., etc., etc.) All turned out to be good, but, as usual, our vision was much larger than our stomachs and we ended up overstuffed. 

The Begijnhof
Stuart invited us back to his flat for a nightcap and we were happy to oblige.  His place was a few blocks away so we were at least able to walk off a bit of the meal.  We passed by numerous residences with lovely flower gardens and boxes and even peeked into the Begijnhof, according to Stuart (and Wikipedia) one of the oldest inner courts in the city of Amsterdam. A group of historic buildings, mostly private dwellings, centre on it. As the name suggests, it was originally a Béguinage. Today it is also the site of the English Reformed Church.

Stuart at his Home
We arrived at Stuart's flat, had a libation or two and a good deal of great conversation on such topics as Sustainability - of which he is an ardent proponent (as am I...maybe I'll do a post on that topic at some point in the future!)

Now drained, both physically and emotionally, Dianne and I took a taxi back to our hotel to prepare for our European Rail trip to London in the morning.

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