Once in a while the travel gods smile down on me and I get an unexpected bonus. This long-anticipated trip was a lesson in packing light, preparing our home for a long absence, obsessing about details in reservations, abating concerns about family left behind and trusting all would be well no matter what during our two-month journey abroad, because after all, travel is all about expecting the unexpected and going with the flow.
We hadn’t even gotten off the ground when our first surprise came in the form of a delayed flight out of Denver that landed us in business class seats all the way to Amsterdam. Pass the wine and bed pillows! I almost claimed I would never fly economy again except the reality is, my wallet can’t afford the luxury of upgraded tickets and I knew I would continue to tolerate crappy economy seats in order to scratch my travel itch.
At any rate, arriving in Amsterdam feeling refreshed and energetic rather than fuzzy and disoriented was a huge blessing. The beauty of revisiting a city is that you feel more relaxed about sightseeing. The first time we ventured to Amsterdam we did our dawn to midnight duty as full-on tourists and hit all the sights in the travel books including the museums and hot spots– thank you Rick Steves.
But this time, we had lazy mornings over coffee and reconnection with old friends and new with whom we were traveling and hit the streets later in the morning to seek out new treasures. So, our experience in Amsterdam for a few days was relaxed slow walks through neighborhoods in search mostly of good coffee, bakeries and quiet local areas for photo ops.
Amsterdam is city that hums like a well-oiled bicycle…literally. Cycling here is not only an efficient transit option, it is THE way to get around at least for the locals. Of course, there is the subway, train and tram system if you’re not so keen on two wheels. No excuses to hole up in the hotel no matter the weather because there is so much to see in the hidden corners of the city and the quiet outlying neighborhoods as well.
A wild and wonderful green space outside of the city center, Tuinpark community garden is a perfect field trip for the botanical aficionado. A relaxing stroll through the maze of small gardens in this large park was a wonder at every turn. Each garden is cared for but not manicured by local gardeners who have tiny homes they live in during the garden months. Imagine glamping in a garden for six months – my kind of heaven!
Amsterdam’s unique culture comes in all shapes and sizes, quirky and queer. From the cuisine to the “coffee shops” (think cannabis) to the window dressings to the candy shops for kids and those for adults only, not to mention the crazy-sounding language.
Once you get your fill of Amsterdam’s inner craziness, I recommend getting out of the city center and meandering through the streets and canals, savoring the moment over a good hot cocoa and warm stroopwaffle. Either way, there’s always something to keep the imagination alive in Amsterdam.