Thursday, September 24, 2015

Nostalgic for Amsterdam

When I travel I love to experience new things, whether it be people, landscape, culture etc. This roadtrip will be taking in some new things as Caroline and I drive around France. But before that, we flew from Melbourne into Amsterdam and spent a day in Holland's cultural capital city.

Our flight with Emirates was smooth but exhausting. We took a 3 flight route, with brief stops in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. Each leg of the trip was about 7 hours so there were no ridiculous 12 or 13 hour legs. But the flying time was still the same, which means that it is still exhausting. The first flight left Melbourne at about 2.40 am Sunday morning and landed Amsterdam at about 8.00 pm Sunday night. This was good as it meant that after a quick shuttle ride to our hotel, we could crash out at a reasonable time, which is what we did.

We are staying close to Schipol Airport and today we commuted to Amsterdam for a chilled out time before starting the drive tomorrow. It was a little strange going back to a city where I'd spent quite a bit of time before, albeit a long time before. We walked around a bit before meeting up with an old friend. In the early 1990's I went to Amsterdam a couple of times as a sort of apprenticeship in the art of street performing. At the time I was in a double act and we learned our skills in Amsterdam. While I met a lot of people in Holland, I've only kept in touch with one, a woman called Marion. Today, Caroline and I met up with Marion at a cafe that we used to go to over 20 years ago, De Balie.

Caroline meeting Marion for the first time in over 10 years

It was actually a very odd experience sitting in a cafe for the first time in over 20 years, waiting to meet someone who I hadn't seen for over 10 years (Caroline probably hadn't met Marion for 15 years) in a city that is 10,000 miles away from my home. But meet up we did, and we had a great time chatting with Marion and her family, and catching up on what she is doing (a mother to a 2 year old daughter and nearly full time work) and reminiscing about the past.

Chess Pilgrimage Site

Besides plenty of walking and sightseeing I managed to visit the Max Euwe Centre, though it doesn't open on Mondays and we had pancake for dinner, a typically Dutch dish. So the first day was a chilled out affair, but pretty tiring as we got through quite a bit. It was pretty much a perfect start to our European trip.

Central Station, Amsterdam

Restaurant of the Five Flies

Typical Dutch Architecture

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