After leaving London, I traveled alone to Amsterdam by train. I had been blessed with clear skies in London for several days (probably a record!), but was thus unlucky when arriving at my new locale. Trying to navigate streets with names-longer-than-the-average while the rain is pouring, the feet are sloshing, the mood is irritable…can make for a bit of relief upon destination arrival. Once I gathered my thoughts, maps, and drier clothes, I set off to explore this “free” city with only the stereotypical things to expect: drugs, bikes & prostitutes. What I uncovered was a quiet, romantic getaway with incredibly friendly, helpful people. Everyone thought I was a native and I felt bad that I hadn’t even learned basic Dutch to embarrass myself with.
After exploring the winding canals and observing the bicycling superiority (and how tourists were nearly mowed down!), I decided to give it a go myself for a spin around Vondelpark. I hadn’t tried a Dutch bike or anything of this style since I was a kid, so giving me a 50 lb-er with hopes that others will be safe around me was laughable. So were the attempts of the bike sales guy who thought I’d go home with him because he let me use the shop bathroom. Regardless, I did enjoy myself and was relieved once free of said bicycle.
On one particular day, I decided to do the most walking while it steadily rained. Apparently my history of growing up in the Pacific NW had me believe I was immune to any kind of wet-shoe irritation. Alas…I did get to see Van Gogh’s work along with Rembrandt’s studio and former home, both of which were incredible. The Three Trees by Rembrandt was my absolute favorite.
And lastly, my plan to visit the Horticus Botanicus quickly became the highlight of my trip. Places like this make me grateful that I visit them alone with noone to rush me, get bored, or give me a time limit to my enjoyment. I believe I spent at least 3 hours here, documenting every texture as if they were a treasure I will have forever. From a 350-year old giant cycad to a myriad of carnivorous plants, the architecture and varying degrees of climates made this for a memorable experience.