Destinations / journey
pregnancy.) “About the only thing this nation does not tolerate,” quips our guide
Willem with a wry smile, “is intolerance.”
Then there’s the Stop/Go, small buses with big windows that crisscross the
entire central area, picking you up and letting you off almost whenever you chose
— just a nod to the driver seemed to work for us. A more romantic, less hurried way
to go is the Canal-Bus: boats that circulate throughout the city’s famous system of
waterways built in the 1500s, with 24-hour passes available. “just hop off where
there’s something you want to see,” the skipper shouted to us in clear english.
“Then jump back on when I float back by.” We were sure he meant after he’d put
into a docking platform.
exploring at a modest pace, we found, Amsterdam to be a very manageable and
inviting city. Clean and quiet electric trams glide along cobblestone streets connect-
ing all major museums, shopping districts, the zoo, the floating flower market, the
public urban oasis Vondelpark, hotels, restaurants and the train station.
IF YOU GO
KLM Royal Dutch Airline d aily nonstop flights just over 10 hours long from s Fo from
$958 economy class. 866.434.0320, klm.com
Hotel Vondel A boutique hotel composed of seven former upscale homes, from $175
Usd . Near museums, city center and v ondelpark.
Hotel de l’Europe Central Amstel r iver location, from $475 Usd . New d utch
masters suite features art from r ijksmuseum.
Canal House Newer, with only 23 rooms, from $276 Usd . Chic, romantic, with res-
taurant facing a private garden.
Ambassade Hotel Central location with spectacular top-floor views, from $260 Usd .
Frequented by authors, has a fine library.
Back on the street, a plaque told us we were
in the jordaan, an old bohemian working-class
neighborhood famous for its noordermarkt
(north Market), a sprawling square featuring a
regular Saturday farmers’ market and Monday
swap meet. Fortuitously, it was Monday, and we
saw colorful Indian saris, art books, clever toy
cars, painted ceramic tiles, antique birdcages and
used bikes by the dozens. As we’d made a vow to
travel light, all we did was seriously browse.
After a quick stop at the Houseboat Museum,
which we found quite cramped, we rounded a
corner and stumbled upon Cafe ’t Smalle, a two-story place with outdoor seating. once inside we
learned that its walls were cocoa-colored from
a patina of smoke and age — the structure was
built in 1787. We snagged a canal-side table and
checked out the traditional appetizer fare — tostis
(toasted sandwiches), bitterballen (savory meatballs), broodjes (sandwiches) and vleess en kaas
schaal. We ordered the latter, a veggie, meat and
cheese platter that was quite delicious.
After washing it all down with, what else, a
pair of ice-cold Heinekens, we noticed the menu
featured wines from a place called the napa
Valley. Which served to remind us … it was time
to start packing. Four days in Amsterdam was
barely enough for an introduction. The city
combines canals, commerce, culture and, yes,
cannabis, in a creative yet comfortable manner.
just remember, as our guide Willem so succinctly
said, ” Watch out for the bicycles.” M