Amsterdam

Wednesday 29 May 2013

It is very cool and overcast as we wake up, so we rug up before we head out for our last wander around Copenhagen before we head off to the airport and Amsterdam.  It is amazing to see the thousands of commuters heading to work and university on their bikes.  There is only 1 car on the road for every 20 bikes and peak hour rush is totally calm.  Bikes have right of way, over cars and pedestrians.

Peak hour rush
Peak hour rush

We grab a croissant and a gilled sandwich for breakfast and head back to the hotel checkout and taxi to the airport.  Once we check into our Scandinavian Airlines flight and go through security we are amazed at the size and sophistication of the Copenhagen airport. There is an amazing choice of shops selling high end fashion and some amazing food, try half a lobster for 40 Euro or half dozen oysters for 20.

We are sitting in the very back row of the plane, originally they didn’t give us seats together and the back row is the only available seats.  Up the front one day … down the back the next.

It is only 1 1/2 hours to Amsterdam so the flight seems to fly.  Amsterdam airport is even busier than Copenhagen.  And guess what my bag is the last to be unloaded.  First one day … last the next.

It still freaks me out a bit with these international airports that have no passport control.  In Australia and in a lot of Asian countries passport control is like sitting a finals exam.  Like if you get a question wrong you will fail the test they won’t let you in.  In Amsterdam they don’t even check your passport you just collect your bag and leave.

Amsterdam houses
Amsterdam houses
Amsterdam canal
Amsterdam canal

I have booked us into Hotel Sebastian at 15 – 17 Keizergracht, on a gorgeous, quiet, leafy canal, just a short stroll to central Amsterdam.  The Hotel is super cool and our room is amazing.  Its on the ground level and looks out onto a little courtyard at the back of the hotel.  It a huge room and a spacious bathroom.  And the bed, oh my god, the bed is so soft and comfy.

Sebastian Hotel
Sebastian Hotel
In-room nescafe
In-room nescafe

We  settle in, but quickly hit the cobblestoned streets to check out the vibe of this amazing city.  Stopping at a food stand Howard scoffs a smoked herring roll, sounds gross huh? But it is actually quite tasty.

Howard gets his herring fix
Howard gets his herring fix
Smoked herring roll
Smoked herring roll

Howard has his radar working and a few steps further on we are walking down a street lined with bars and shops selling that weed that Amsterdam is so famous for.  Not to be distracted I drag him past temptation, but before we go too far is starts to rain.  Damn it, we left our umberalla and raincoats at the hotel.  Typical hun, we dragged the damn things all around Copenhagen but didn’t need them.

We dive into a few shops thinking that it will fizzle out, but a couple of loud thunder rolls tells us this is more than a brief shower.  We buy a cheap parapluie but its poring down, so there is only one thing to do … find a bar and stop resisting temptation.

Wonder Bar One
Wonder Bar One

We select the least seedy looking bar and grab a couple of Heineken.  The bar is a dark, smokers den with a miss-mash of tables, lounges and day beds.  There is a pair of industrious young men, furiously mixing and rolling and chain-smoking like hardened professionals.  They have no conversation, focusing all their attention on getting as wasted as possible.

The rain is eased up, so after a few drinks we make a dash back to our hotel.  By now Howard has the munchies (must be from passive smoking) and demolishes two beers, a packet of nuts and a chocolate bar from the mini bar, and is keen for more junk … hot dogs and chips … seriously?

To avert a food crisis I insist that we wait longer for the rain to stop.  A couple of hours later we head out at 9.00pm and find a small Greek restaurant – De Twee Grieken (The Two Greeks), where we feast on spicy pork, grilled lamb, greek salad and retsina.  Nom nom nom. Great food and good value!

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