Tulips from Amsterdam

Rembrandt's Night WatchAmsterdam is one of my favourite cities. It has a wonderful mix of laid back charm and frenetic sleaziness.

We were back there last weekend for what is probably our third or fourth visit. Every time we go we discover something new – either deliberately or by stumbling over it. This time it was the Rijksmuseum, which has been shut all the times we have been in Amsterdam previously due to a ten year refit. Given that it has been out of action for a while it was obviously busy but particularly around the more famous works such as the Night Watch and the Milkmaid.

Given the number of times I have visited Amsterdam it is surprising that I haven’t been to the red light district before but I never really felt that it was a place to go with your wife. As we were away with another couple this time that gave me the opportunity to go. I’m not sure what I was expecting but certainly not what was basically scantily clad women standing at the front of what appeared to be a public toilet. I couldn’t think of anything less of a turn on.

Amsterdam is a great place to wander. The roads that run alongside the canals and criss cross between them are flanked by some lovely looking houses. It’s certainly not the place to live if you own a car but it is heaven sent for bike lovers. Having worked in Rotterdam and lived in Hellevoetsluis for seven months I know that there I an order of priority for transport going something like: boats, bikes, trams, motorbikes, cars, lorries and then a very long way behind the rest pedestrians. Step out in front of a bike at your peril!

We had two excellent meals out. The first night was spent at the Belgisch Restaurant Lieve which offers three dining experiences. We chose the Lounge which had a relaxed ambiance or maybe that was just the wine flowing. The next night we went to a restaurant recommended by the concierge in our hotel called the Five Flies, an interesting choice of name for a restaurant. The place was distinguished by having four original Rembrandt etchings on the wall which while lovely to look at I did suspect that the need to insure them might well have been reflected in the prices.

The final morning was spent wandering Jordaan and climbing the tower of the Westerkerk, a place so narrow to climb that only six people are allowed up at any one time, views were good though and we managed to get back down before the heavens opened.

We will come back to Amsterdam I’m sure.

If you want you can see some pictures here.