• Day16

    Initial challenges, before it comes good

    September 26, 2019 in the Netherlands ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    After we'd had breakfast and got ourselves organised we decided to head downtown to explore Amsterdam . The no. 13 tram stop was just a couple of hundred metres from the hotel, and from there it was an easy 20 minute run to the centre of town.

    The weather was lousy, with rain and Intermittent heavy showers. The wind was blowing strongly enough to turn our brollies inside out, and destroy Brian's, so it wasn't all that pleasant. Nevertheless we could see so many interesting views of canals and historic buildings and Brian was determined to try and get some good shots with the brand new camera.

    This camera has so many features and menu settings that il requires a lot of time, which we didn't have, to become familiar with them all. So there we were, all rugged up against the wind and rain, wrestling with brollies and trying to use an unfamiliar camera while trying to keep it from getting wet. That was certainly a low point and the closest, so far at least, to Brian having a dummy spit. Fortunately Mary was there to help calm him down.

    Things actually started looking up from then on, with the showers becoming less frequent. Also, Brian found that he was able to get a few half decent camera shots.

    For a while we just wandered, enjoying the views, but then headed for the old Jewish district, which is part of the Old Town. As the rain was still hanging round we decided we'd concentrate at least initially on visiting the insides of buildings and avoiding the worst of the weather. The Portuguese Synagogue was quite interesting, evidently one of the biggest synagogues in Europe. Our entry tickets also entitled us to visit the Jewish Museum and that was really great , with the displays and exhibits beautifully set up. We spent quite a bit of time there, by which stage the weather had improved marginally.
    We then headed headed towards the red light district, nowadays more of a tourist attraction than anything else. There was still plenty of interesting and unusual merchandise on offer from many of the shops but nothing that would appeal greatly to a couple who have been married for 52 years. Still we did thoroughly enjoy our introduction to Amsterdam.
    It is a very picturesque city and pedestrian friendly, more or less. That qualification refers to the fact that, while there are plenty of pedestrian crossings and pedestrian traffic lights, they are completely ignored by the huge number of bike riders who clearly take the view that they have priority over everyone else. Quite a few times we found ourselves having to leap out of their way or get run down. .
    One of the very pleasant features of Amsterdam is the friendliness and helpfulness of the locals. You only have to be looking slightly puzzled or be staring at a map and almost immediately someone will be asking if you'd like some help. On crowded trams, younger people would immediately leap to their feet to offer us a seat and were most insistant that we accept their offer.
    By late afternoon we were pretty exhausted, so headed back to the hotel for a refresh before dinner.
    Rather than eat at the hotel we then headed back on the tram towards town and stumbled across a really great, friendly and authentic Italian restaurant. The day had started out a bit shakily but got significantly better as it progressed. Amsterdam is an easy city to like.
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