Tuesday, August 12, 2008


On my way to Canada I had an 8 hour stopover in Amsterdam. That's a ridiculous amount of time to sit in an airport, so I checked my carry-on luggage and hopped the train to Central Station to revisit a city I had once spent another 8 hour stopover in - 13 years ago!! (I'm getting old!)

Last time, I was travelling with my mom on my first-ever trip to Egypt. We spent the day visiting  Ann Frank  House and bobbing along the canals, snapping pictures left and right.

(OK there was also a bit of drama which involved boarding the wrong train back to the airport, lovely scenery involving tulips and windmills, a heart-stopping realization we were on the wrong train, and a frantic last-minute dash to the gate. This whole episode is burned onto my mom's psyche and makes her reluctant to travel with me to this day.)

But that was a long time ago. I'm a bit more travel savvy these days.

Since nothing was open by the time I reached downtown, (7am!), I wandered the empty streets admiring the architecture and little canals. I found a coffee shop and spent some quality time with a perfect latte and memorably delicious peach cake. (Melly's Gourmet Coffee and Cookie Bar comes highly recommended!)

The day was shaping up to be sunny but a bit on the cool side, (for me.) I wandered around and while looking for the Chinese temple, (closed) I stumbled upon the "Red Light District".
It was the day after the Gay Pride parade, which is done up Amsterdam-style!  Floats were created on boats and floated around the city's canals. There were still several balloons and flags being cleaned up  the next morning. As I entered the red light district, people started to fill the streets. 
This part of Amsterdam is kind of wasted on me, as I'm not a big fan of "the herb".  Yet even at 8:30 the "coffee shops" were full and doing great business according the aroma that wafted through the streets. A couple huge, yet scantily clad women called to me from their window display cases, their business must have been getting off to a slow start!

What a great little city!  I love the bicycles, canals and architecture. The empty streets were such a contrast to the barely-contained-chaos of Istanbul. I was lucky that although it threatened to rain - it didn't, and the threatening clouds added drama to a few of my pictures.

Can't wait to do it all over again on my way back home to Istanbul!

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