March 13, 2019

The Skinny on Amsterdam

After only a couple hours of shut eye. We flew KLM Airlines from London Heathrow to Amsterdam. Our flight departed at 630AM. It was rather quiet at that hour, which made our short time at Europe's busiest airport trouble free. We touched down in Amsterdam by 9AM so we had a full day to see the sights. We were warned that the taxis can be a rip off so we used Uber and public transit during our stay. Travel tickets can be purchased on board by card. It couldn't be easier. The most difficult part is remembering to tap to board and again to depart.

We reserved our stay at Hotel JL76, but they did not have a room available for early check in. Sleep would have to wait! We stowed our bags and went out to brave the weather. It was chilly and raining steadily; we opted to pass the time at the Van Gogh Museum. I wasn't aware that tickets are reserved for a particular time; so we had time to kill before we could enter. Frank went to a cigar lounge and I went to the Stedelijk Museum for modern and contemporary art.

By the time, we toured both museums we were beyond exhausted. We were complete toast and wandered back to the hotel like the walking dead. A room was now ready for us on the fourth floor. "Oh, by the way, the lift is broken." GRRREAT. Of course, this is the one trip we didn't pack light. We each had a suitcase to lug up a tiny steep stairwell. The steps were so narrow my foot barely fit. Nevermind, Frank's 15 shoe! We were told it would be repaired the following day but we had our doubts. Elevator repair on the weekend seemed like a fantasy. We were not wrong. The elevator was purely for decoration during our stay.

About Amsterdam...

Canal homes are extremely slender and tall. Why? To save on taxes! Stemming from the boom in the 16th century, Dutch authorities levied taxes from citizens based – among other things – on the width of their house. Most are equipped with hooks to enable residents to bring in furniture and other bulky items - like our suitcases (I wish) - because (as we learned) staircases are narrow, steep and winding.

This is the one place Frank is short. He stands at 6'3" and people tower over him. I barely came to some people's knees. No joke.

There are bicycles everywhere. I've never seen anything like it. They start kids on bikes very young and without helmets - heresy! It seems bicyclists earn the right of way in every instance, so, keep your eyes peeled.

A weekend was all we needed to explore this famous city in the Netherlands. We weren't terribly lured by the sirens call of this adult playground. I prefer my coffee shops to serve coffee and the red light district was amateur hour at its best, or, um... worst.

Don't get me wrong, I have no qualms when it comes to prostitution. I support it as long as all parties are willing. As the kids today, say... you do you, boo. I was surprised by how robotic the ladies were. I compared them to Austin Power's Fembots. However, the only spell they were under where that of their social feed, the bulk were glued to their cellphones.

The Venustempel sex museum and the Holland casino both charge 5 Euros to enter. There is some punchline there about getting screwed. I'll let you find it.

Look at that queue waiting to pay to enter. Shh! Don't tell Vegas.

Food was definitely my love language in Amsterdam. The dutch apple pancakes and the pomme frites were something to behold. The chewy pancake dough was light and not too sweet despite the syrup that was more like caramel topping than the maple variety known so well in the states. Fresh apples and serve yourself powdered sugar. No devils dust for me - Thanks!

The fries were perfectly crisp on the outside with fluffy centers. Plus endless sauce possibilities. Frank's preference was the classic ketchup with mayo.

The other regional dish that wooed me were bitterballen which are fried balls of roux and meat. The tastiest of bar snacks! The best, though, were at Foodhallen.

Oh, and let's not forget the cheese. I mean come on, now! Gouda is heaven sent.

Stroopwafels are a bit too sweet for my liking, but it was an interesting battle between my braces and the strings of caramel.

Travels with Frank has led me on a tour of cigar lounges around the globe. My favorite, by far, has been Freddy's in Amsterdam. Named after Freddy Heineken. The dark wood and rich leather ooze class. The air filtration is quite impressive. I don't mind lingering for hours sipping on craft cocktails or fine bourbon while noshing on barrel snacks. The wasabi peas and cereal crisps were personal favorites. The bitterballen was quite delicious too. I'd return in a heart beat. Sunshine in the Rain (my cocktail of choice). All day.

Next stop, Stockholm.

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