In my last post I revealed that Kym and I had been gallivanting through Europe in April and I promised a report on the places we visited. First stop was Amsterdam, where we stayed for 4 nights.
Anyone who has been there will know what I mean when I say that Amsterdam is an assault of the senses. Mostly in a good way. Sometimes in a bad way. On occasion, in a nose curling kinda way.
Assault on sight:
The first thing you’ll notice is there is a lot going on visually. Look down, there’s a mixture of cobblestones to carefully tread (especially if you’re a walking-trip-hazard like myself), with papers and cigarette butts scattered on the ground (Kym and I may have been the only non-smokers in the entire country). Look up and there’s a sky with bustling clouds and so intensely blue that it looks like someone made it all up (in a good way). Look in front of you and there are bikes whizzing past, beaming with the confidence of winning the war of the roads (cars really aren’t the master on Amsterdam streets). Look around you, left to right and there’s a whole lot to see. There is no bullshitting in Amsterdam, no shame. It’s not just in the red light district, with the women standing provocatively in shop windows, or the ‘coffee shops’ which don’t actually sell coffee. The message in every shop window, no matter the type of business it’s representing is the same “This is who I am. I hope you like it, but I don’t really care, and I’m not going to change anything."
Assault on taste:
Taste is concentrated in Amsterdam. The cheese is strong, the bread is heavy, the meat is smoked. The serving sizes are bigger than I’ve ever seen (well, until we got to Germany, but more on that in another post). Kym and I made the mistake several times of ordering separate slices of cake, only to discover that every serve is twice that you get in Australia. We duly finished said serves, but still, they became a struggle a few days in. The only thing I found weak was the beer (that said, I’m an Aussie, it's in my blood to say this).
Assault on smell:
Amsterdam reeks. When you are in Amsterdam, you will discover what it means to feel overwhelmed with smells. Trash, pastries, weed, beer, coffee, cheese, urine…. It’s all a bit much for a girl who uses soap nuts to clean her clothes. To conclude, Amsterdam reeks. That is all.
Assault on hearing:
Just like the smell, Amsterdam is a whole lot of noise. Apparently it’s one of the loudest cities in the world. Or Europe. Or the country. I’m not sure, but our tour guide said something along those lines. I’m assuming it’s the first option. In Amsterdam, there is always something competing for your attention, and sound is no different: sirens, rubbish trucks, crowds, cars, bells, bikes….
Assault on touch:
As I said in the ‘sight’ part of this post, Amsterdam is an incredibly textural city. There’s always something to touch, walk on, scrape, bump into, steer away from. The sun is toasty warm on your face, the wind is chillingly cold. There’s always something crunching or shifting underfoot, like the city is half awake beneath you.
- Van Gogh Museum (even if his famous sunflower painting was on holiday in the UK)
- Anne Frank Museum (you can’t not go to this, even if the line is 1+ hours long)
- City tour with Mark, That Dam Guide (it was by far the best tour we took in all of Europe)
- Cobra Museum of Modern Art (if you like modern art, this place has some seriously cool stuff)
- Winkel (the best apple pie in Amsterdam, not to mention, my entire life)
- Noordermarkt (conveniently, right next to Winkel)