The Netherlands

On the Canals of Amsterdam

We are driving to Amsterdam today

to visit our friends Michiel and Fred and have some fun. The drive is not hard, and is very familiar to us. We pass green pastures of late fall vistas: grass and windmills, dotted with grazing cows and sheep, horses and some donkeys.

We have easy instructions to their apartment, and park our car there; then Michiel, John, and I grab the tram and head into downtown Amsterdam to have some lunch and to meet friends Damien, Ron, and Carlos, who have promised us a canal boat trip. Some mechanical difficulties ensue and needless to say, we don’t actually get on the boat until after 5, at which point we spend an early Friday evening having drinks aboard Ron and Damien’s’ VERY small boat, bumping and spinning our way around the inner canals of Amsterdam. We slow down to avoid the bigger tourist boats and sometimes head the wrong way up one-way canals. It is a very fall-like Amsterdam: people wrapped in warm clothes against the damp and chill, the last yellow leaves falling onto wet cobbles and onto the dark reflective canals.

After our cruise, we head to a bar called April and enjoy their happy hour before heading out to find somewhere for dinner. Our group keeps getting bigger as Fred, Ramon, and another John join us after work. Many restaurants try to fit us all in but it is Friday night; after several attempts without success, Fred says “there’s always Le Monde!” and so we head there for a raucous dinner, complete with a new kitten named Samba who is passed from table to table during the course of the evening.

Our night ends at one of Amsterdam’s oldest bars where everyone (and I mean everyone) sings songs ranging from traditional Dutch folk songs from the 1920’s to local cheesy Dutch disco hits of the 1980’s. The bartender knows the words to all of them and serenades you with a lovely bass/baritone as he pours you yet another beer. Needless to say, we don’t get home until after three and are glad that home is Fred and Michiel’s guest bed.

We have to get up early tomorrow for our drive and day in Brussels.

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