One of the things I was most hoping to get out of this trip was the feeling of really living in Paris, if only for a brief time. And I achieved that goal–by leaving Paris.
Amsterdam was awesome. After getting over the fact that, no, it is not only quaint canals and seedy coffee shops (some of the canals were seedy and some coffee shops quaint), and after learning how to navigate the tram system (there’s no little map to use), we really enjoyed our almost-two days there. Of course, this could be due to the fact that I had nothing planned. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. And yet we still had fun, we still saw sights, we still managed to find places to eat. We went to the Van Gogh museum–which was amazing, despite how packed it was–strolled through Vondelpark, and checked out the flower markets. We also had a great Dutch meal in a very reasonably priced and VERY old restaurant we wandered into, and a fantastic lunch at an Indonesian place suggested by the guidebook.
After London and Paris, I really was wishing I’d planned a ‘somewhere with a pool and a beach’ vacation-within-a-vacation, but as it turned out, Amsterdam was just what we needed. The people there were over-the-top friendly, everyone spoke English (and Dutch), and there were lots of places to pee (you could walk into any bar, pay 20 cents or so on a tray not guarded by some mean woman, and feel guilt-free about using the facilities–Amsterdam definitely earns five toilet paper rolls on my own, personal rating scale, and that’s the highest number of rolls a city can earn…nevermind the fact that I just now made up this rating system) And, as an added bonus, I don’t think it went above sixty degrees (farenheit) the entire time. People on the streets were wearing jackets. On the 27th of July.
All of this, and it was less than 3.5 hours door to door–from our hotel in Amsterdam to our apartment in Paris. And what did we do when we got off of the train? We headed straight for the metro–which we now know how to use–and made it home in record time. We hit the Monoprix for wine and juice, stopped by the pizza shop downstairs for a late dinner ‘a emporter’, threw open the windows to the apartment, poured wine, lit candles, scarfed down said pizza in a very non-romantic way, and said ‘ahh…we’re home’.