Three things I learned in Amsterdam

The Dutch know how to make their homes comfortable. Thanks to the Dutch habit of living without curtains and window blinds, we were able to peek at wooden book shelves, inviting armchairs and lights so yellow that you would think they have not yet stopped selling light bulbs in the Netherlands.
While we walked the cold and sometimes wet streets, they sat inside, enjoying books, hot drinks and a coziness that looked hard to beat. And if they did venture outside, they laughed and drank* in warmly lit bars, pubs and breweries just a little away from the overcrowded center.

* Well, we did also see that one guy who kicked another man off his bike. He would better have stayed at home and been comfortable instead of walking the streets.

IJ Brewery

IJ Brewery

Van Gogh decided to become a painter at the age of 27 and worked hard to get there. I think that I somehow assumed that he had just started to paint in those bright, expressive colors right away. Instead, he started with rather dark images and learned through a lot of practice.
Red hands after queuing for over an hour to get into the Van Gogh museum

Red hands after queuing for over an hour to get into the Van Gogh museum

I share this bit of knowledge with more than a million annual visitors of the museum. We bought ticket vouchers in advance so that we could use the fast track queue but we still had to wait over an hour. Since we had nothing else to do, we observed the queues and understood that the fast track queue was not really faster but only shorter. If you are planning to visit the museum, try to book timed tickets on the internet or check the weather forecast carefully. Depending on what the sky has to offer, ticket vouchers and museum cards still buy you an hour-long wait in the rain, snow or heat.

Meat can be made from soy. In search for something to eat, we walked into a place called De Vegetarische Slager (The Vegeterian Butcher). We entered without really knowing what to expect, and discovered that almost everything in there was made with fake meat. We sure did expect everything to be vegetarian and we were happy about that. But we were extremely skeptical about fake meat. But we were also extremely hungry, so we ordered “chicken” sandwiches. And if we had not known that the meat was made from soy, we would not have been able to tell it was not real. Even the texture was very close to actual chicken. The portions are not large and it is not cheap but I would recommend a visit if you ever come across one of their branches – there are several in the Netherlands.

All of this is fake.

All of this is fake.

Time of visit: December 2014

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This article was published on in response to the Daily Post’s theme “Warmth”.

9 thoughts on “Three things I learned in Amsterdam

    1. perelincolors

      I did think about asking you for recommendations before we went but it was such a short visit that it was easily filled with just standard things, especially because I had never been there before. You are lucky to call the city one of your homes! But I did wonder how the people who live there cope with that massive amount of tourists. Do you ever visit the center yourself?


      1. luciledegodoy

        I reckon that the basics already fill in an agenda when being there for the first time.
        It is a lively and yet not stressing city if one stays away from the city center. I lived 10 years in one of those canals, and loved it, except for the difficulty task of finding a parking place on a daily basis.
        Since 6 years I live in the new eastharbour area, which you can reach in a 10 min bike ride from central station.
        I do visit the city center when shopping or eating out. Living there I know the times to avoid the touristic spots. But you spotted an issue. The city is busy the whole year.


      2. perelincolors

        When we lived in Heidelberg, we also knew where the masses were, and when. But I have to admit that I often enjoyed to walk among the tourists. Heidelberg is pretty popular with Americans and Asians who have never been to Europe before, and I loved seeing their smiles when they see the castle and all the old stuff.


      3. luciledegodoy

        It is true. It can be fun sometimes.
        Heidelberg is really pretty and you would have seen my smile too. I used to go there often while working for ABB in Zurich ,because we had a plant at Mannheim and I would take the opportunity to visit.
        I still love a little bakery in the city center; as they have the best bread in the world. I was back there in July 2013 when returning from Italy by car..


      4. perelincolors

        I miss one of the bakeries in Heidelberg now that we are in Berlin. It’s a small one close to Bismarckplatz, it is called Sofie Göbes and they have one of the best Mandelhörnchen I ever had.


  1. Finding My Inner Zen

    I never got to see the Van Gogh museum while I was there! Did it end up being worth the wait?

    I have a reprint of Starry Night hung in my room. I went to New York once solely with the purpose of seeing it in person.


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