Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Amsterdam

From Copenhagen we went to Amsterdam. We went via train, then boat, then train again. But, here's the amazing thing that I've never thought of or seen before:
I don't know if you can tell, but this is a picture of the train ON BOARD THE BOAT!!!! Can you believe this???? I had no idea. Wow.










Here is a long-distance photo of another one of the boats and I don't think it really gives you any idea of the size of the boats, but I was impressed (especially because my train was on board the boat I was on!):
Not so clear.








We got into Amsterdam late at night so we didn't do anything but go straight to our hotel. We did manage to pass a few red light windows, which was sort of interesting, but we kept walking. Then, with our back packs on our backs and waaayyyy too much yarn in hand, we encountered this:

which we had to walk up.










This set of stairs led to this:
which we also had to walk up. I thought I was going to lose my mind when I saw these, but once the back packs were off (after we were at the top of the stairs in our room), the stairs weren't quite so scary. Still.... Whoa. I don't think these photos do these stairways justice!








It's hard to say what we did in Amsterdam, exactly. No, this is not because we were hitting all of the coffee shops and imbibing in all those things that aren't legal here in the U.S. It's because we were there for a short time and we mostly did the Rick Steves' walk again. We had a nice time.
Amsterdam is a pretty city











and there is a lot of interesting history there. I particularly liked learning about the Dutch resistance to the Nazis. It's just too bad the people in the Netherlands didn't wake up to the threat the Nazis posed until after they had taken hold of the country!

We went to the Anne Frank House, too, which was very interesting. It's always a unique experience to have something physically in front of you that you've only read about. You get to walk about the whole house and it brings the book to life. Oh, and you should definitely follow Rick's advice: go later in the evening. In the earlier part of the day, the line is really, really long. For some reason, it becomes much more manageable later on and you can walk through the place without feeling claustrophobic.

Besides the historically significant stuff, we just enjoyed walking around. Among the random things we took in was the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, which was surprisingly informative and enjoyable for being so small and not being something we were looking for.

Also near the Anne Frank House was the yarn shop De Afstap. Their site is entirely in Dutch, by the way. This site has a very brief English description -- plus the address! Franklin, of the Panopticon, wrote about this place and was quite excited. I, however, was less so. I am sure that this is at least partly because I was looking for Dutch wool. De Afstap sells Rowan wool exclusively, basically. That's great, of course, if that's what you're looking for. I wasn't. And I couldn't really fathom going to a shop that sold only one brand of yarn. It was a cute place, though:
This second picture is of the inside (with me posing painfully for the camera). In the lower right hand part of the photo you can see the wool along the wall. The frames to the left are for all of the needlepoint, which is located upstairs.






Other random stuff we saw:
lots, and lots of bicycles!








A funky flower that lots of people were growing:









And many tilting buildings!
I don't know how well this photo conveys this, but they were all leaning to and fro. It was pretty strange to see. Apparently it has something to do with the water.






The highlight of my trip to Amsterdam, though, was seeing a dear friend of mine whom I haven't seen in a number of years. She moved to the Netherlands from the U.S. about 10 years ago! She looks as fabulous as ever and it was as if we had just seen each other last week when we got together.









On our way back to our hotel from meeting Jasmine, Andrew met the woman of his dreams:
There were a bunch of metal lizards crawling around the grass in this area (the Leidseplein) and he couldn't resist her.










Lastly, on a whim, brought about by Jasmine, we went to Utrecht the next day on our way to Paris. It was a lovely town -- a college town -- and would have been a lot of fun to check out if we hadn't been rained on. However, before getting too wet, I did get this shot:

Jasmine also showed me the shop where she gets her yarn and that is where I got ours for our blanket. Amusingly, despite my unwillingness to get the Rowan while at De Afstap (where I would have gone back if Jasmine and I hadn't had a discussion about yarn the night before we left), I ended up buying Rowan at the place in Utrecht instead! I can't remember the name of the place, but it was probably Modilaine. There is not much Dutch yarn in the world, as it turns out, so we had to settle on something else. We got Rowan Felted Tweed. I have a photo on a card in a camera that isn't at my house right now, so I can't show you, but you can imagine. It's not too exciting (here is a picture of someone else's).

The store was cute and I'm glad that it provides my friend with a nice place to get her yarn. :) I will warn you, though, that the woman who was there when I was (I think she was the owner) didn't speak English at all. Now, this is perfectly reasonable, given that I was in the Netherlands and all, but it's easy to get used to finding English speaking people all over Europe, because so many of them are excellent at it. I'm sure you can handle a yarn purchase in Dutch, if you have to, though, right?

From Utrecht, we set off for Paris...