Amsterdam, Netherlands – So much for following the itinerary, huh? Spending a total of 2 days in Amsterdam is the least amount of time we will be spending in any place we visit. After our snap decision to get on a plane to a completely different location than we planned on, we needed to acclimate ourselves to our surroundings as soon as possible to get something out of our visit here. Amsterdam was a great place to get accustomed to travel abroad without any extreme culture shock. English is spoken by almost everyone, the city itself is very easy to get around, and the only thing that was really lacking was any sort of interesting food (Their signature snack is french fries with sauce, a.k.a. Mayonnaise. Lovely.)
The most lasting impression Amsterdam left us with was the bicycles. They are everywhere. The bicycle lanes are usually parallel with the sidewalk, and wandering into those lanes is pretty easy to do, which only took a few bells rung at us before we got the hang of things. How this nation hasn’t had a Tour de France winner is beyond us. Old people, children, businessmen, pretty much everyone gets around by bike. The public transportation system is also very good, with buses and trams servicing the entire area quite easily.
After the first day of catching our breath, we took a boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam. It was a nice way to see a lot of sites and see how the city is laid out. We also checked out the Van Gogh museum which was very impressive. Over 200 of his paintings are on display at this museum, including some of his self-portraits and famous flower still-lifes. Here are a few of our favorites from the museum.
Unfortunately, the Netherlands had zero World Cup matches while we were here, but it was easy to tell they were crazy about their team. The national orange color decorated the front of every bar and shop. Speaking of shops, the coffee shops here were unlike any Starbucks back in the states. Here you can freely purchase and use marijuana. However, it is illegal to mix tobacco and marijuana. Interesting. The local flower shops also have a convenient starter kit if you’re interested in becoming a botanist yourself.
Despite the frenetic pace of our first days couple days on the world tour, we had a great (albeit short) time in Amsterdam. Coming up we will be connecting in Frankfurt, Germany and then it’s off to the tropical island of Mauritius.