With a requisite layover in Amsterdam to get to Paris, we figured a logical conclusion to our trip to Paris would be a couple of days in Europe’s city of sin. We decided it would be more fun to try taking the train from Paris to Amsterdam rather than go through a few hours of airport hassle for a 40 minute flight. This was a great choice.
We took the Thalys high-speed train from Paris Gare du Nord directly to Amsterdam Centraal, with just a couple of stops in Brussels, Antwerp, and Rotterdam. We’ll have to go back again to see those intermediate places because we were set on getting to our destination. The train was great. We paid something like 10 euro extra to get first class accommodations, which meant lunch (not so great), alcohol (better), and free wifi. The train travels at a top speed of 186mph, so we got to Amsterdam in about 3 hours.
We also picked a hotel right in the heart of the city because we had to catch an early flight back to Billund, which meant two days in the middle of Amsterdam’s notorious red light district. Interestingly, it’s not really a district so much as a canal with some alleys and isn’t really red-lit except super late at night. Mostly, it just smelled like weed. Everywhere. Also, the ceiling of our hotel room (we were “upgraded”) looked like this:
But, we didn’t let the drugs and prostitutes get us down. Amsterdam is a charming little city, if too full of young Brits on stag weekend. The canals, while green-colored, do create a very pleasant atmosphere with few cars and lots of bikes (so it was just like being in Denmark).
We mostly spent the time just walking around, trying out different vendors of fries, having a bit of beer at In de Wildeman, which was a cozy little beer bar just off the main drag. We also walked by (but skipped, on the advice of some friends) the Rijksmuseum, which has just reopened after a decade of renovation. It looked nice.
We decided to instead go to the Van Gogh Museum, which was well-worth the trip. The museum provides an extensive collection of works by Van Gogh and the works that inspired him as an artist. It also provides a critical biography of his life, chronicling his early failures in various careers, his struggles as an artist, and ultimately the depression that led to his suicide. It was definitely the highlight for me of the trip.
Heather’s favorite part of the trip, though, was the Scheepvaartmuseum. Yes, that’s what it’s called. It’s the maritime museum of Holland and documents the maritime history (i.e., war with Britain and various colonial activities). Some highlights are really extensive collections of model ships, historical globes, and Dutch maritime painting. The museum also included a vessel that you could tour, which Heather enjoyed (as you can see).
I more enjoyed the lunch we had at the museum’s cafe, which included a nice Belgian dubbel from Brouwerij ‘t IJ. It was a short trip to Amsterdam, but the weather was great and we had a nice time just walking around the city and (again) avoiding tourists.
We’re now planning our next set of adventures, some of which will be domestic but still exciting. I’m also planning to blog a bit more about our day-to-day lives, so look for that soon.