Christi Himmelfahrt in Amsterdam

Seems like everyone in Europe has been to Amsterdam. Well, now we have, too. Sarah had wanted a visit to this city for a long time, so we planned this trip as a birthday present many months ago (around the time of her actual birthday, which is not a good time to be in the Northern Hemisphere). We got pretty lucky with the weather; you never know when you’re pre-paying hotel and airfare that far in advance.1

Timing

We took advantage of Christi Himmelfahrt, which, as you can see on our Bavarian Holiday Calendar, is nicely pre-progammed for burning off overtime on Fridays in May. We were not the only visitors from Germany there that weekend — not by a long shot. There were plenty of other visiting nationalities, but we heard English the most; even more than Dutch…

Language

Bromfiets -- Brom brom!…which is too bad, really. Dutch is so much fun to read for the native English speaker with some German skills. The word parts stack up together just like German, but look like they’re written with a broken keyboard, and sound — sort of — like English. Voetganger is probably my favorite Dutch word, halfway to English from German. It’s not so much individual words that sound like English, but rather the tonal aspects of spoken Dutch sound like English. When we hear Dutch on the street in Regensburg, until we’re close enough to ascertain that it’s not, we usually mistake it for English. Reading Dutch is a treat for those who pick up on vowel and consonant shifts between related languages. But even if you’re not into Germanic languages, if you can do English, you’ll be fine in Amsterdam. Not only are they good at it, they seemed so happy to use it with us.

Eten en Drinken

There is so much neat grub to try in Amsterdam!

  • traditional Dutch stuff, like friets and sandwiches and cheese and meatballs and beer
  • imported Indonesian fare, ideally sampled via a rijsttafel
  • Surinamese, which is a combination of the above, plus influences from Chinese and Indian and others
  • Appeltaart and other pastries

A friend pointed us to Eat Your World and we used that for a lot of inspiration. Combine those addresses and descriptions with some offline maps and you can walk your way up and down the canals all day from meal to meal. Despite our best efforts, we never managed to try some of the things on our shortlist: snert, a traditional pea soup, or broodje pom.

Neighborhoods and Transportation

The trams and busses are well-established, too. A €7.50 ticket is good for the whole system2 for 24 hours for when your feet are worn out or the weather turns not-so-nice. We stayed near Museumplein, which gave us easy access to many tram and bus lines.

Rijksmuseum

This might be an attraction, or a welcome respite from a rainy day. Admission is not cheap — €17.50 per adult head — but the collection is impressive.

  • Van Gogh
  • Rembrandt
  • Vermeer

but also

  • knives, swords, daggers, long pokey sticks, and early ballistic weaponry
  • weird modern multimedia stuff
  • a prototype biplane that just missed WW1

Scummy stuff — RLD and pot cafés

These are the principal reasons I was skeptical about Amsterdam in the first place. We stumbled upon the red light district in the mid-afternoon walking across town on a mission to get a piece of Appeltaart from Winkel in Jordaan. If you pay better attention, you can probably avoid it altogether quite easily. We could not however avoid the “coffeeshops” catering to pot smokers. In fact, we smelled pot within 30 seconds of leaving the front door of the airport. Your nose will be guide along the canals, too. Fortunately, if that’s not your scene, that’s the most you have to partake of it.

Assorted Amsterdam Pictures

Tot ziens

In retrospect, I wish we I hadn’t waited so long for a visit to Amsterdam. Next time, we will make that broodje pom happen!

  1. Unless it’s someplace like Singapore, I guess. []
  2. Really? Not sure. It covered everything we needed except the airport bus into the downtown area, which is operated by a different network and cost €5 for a single. []

3 thoughts on “Christi Himmelfahrt in Amsterdam”

  1. Steven

    I loved Amsterdam, and I’m jealous of the weather you had while visiting there. It’s an amazing city to visit for sure.

    Amusingly, you guys were there at the same time as my brother. If you saw a guy who looks a lot like me speaking English, that was him. ;)

  2. shoreacres

    Wonderful photos. I grew up very near a true Dutch town in Iowa (Pella), so I’ve had a taste of the goodies, at least. Every now and then I’m tempted toward mail ordering from them again, but then good sense takes over, and I resist.

    It was only a few years ago that I tossed my wooden shoes. I always wore them in the Tulip Time parades while in high school. :)

  3. the prince of malgeria

    I want to go back. I went at 24, with a bunch of students who I didn’t know too well. We arrived after an all night right in a tour bus (I swear it was a scale model of one), and so many wanted to hit the red light district – at 10am. What? Not much open. But still plenty of opportunity to buy things they don’t sell in the coffeeshops. Which is where we next found ourselves.

    I loved the canals. I loved the bikes. I also – because I have this gene that can’t say no to helping people move – loved the pulley system for moving furniture into the front windows of flats. I wanted that (and sort of arranged similar enough systems) for all of my moves in Boston.

    Thanks for the pics!

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