Prior to our Amsterdam trip, I caught a horrible cold—or who knows what it was, but it involved a constant, conspicuous cough. My poor travel companion good naturedly put up with my hacking. I’ve been told I’m pleasant to travel with, and I tried this time, but his periodic attempts at humorous imitations of my cough were met with a withering glare. I now laugh when I come across one photo where I look miserable under a blue sky and a sunny bridge in the background. Fortunately, we still got to walk around the city and enjoy our experience. No late nights in the Red Light District, though. Rather, nighttime tea and cough drops in our quiet apartment.
During our second day, we strolled through a couple of markets selling food or gift items. One stand featured Amsterdam’s signature cheese. I did not know this round yella fella was considered a local specialty until we saw it everywhere.
A salesperson was rude to me as I decided whether to buy fluffy red slippers in the shape of Dutch clogs for my mom. Not sure why he thought that was a good idea, since he was selling items that could be bought for the same price elsewhere. That’s exactly what I did, of course: walk away and find a store with the identical product but better service.
We crossed more picturesque canals and streets lined with bikes.
I noticed right angles in boxy cars and panes of glass.
We lunched at a Dutch pancake restaurant found at the top of a steep staircase. I have no idea how they haul groceries and laundry up and down those narrow stairs. Amsterdam was full of staircases like these. Interior spaces were small, too. The apartment we rented was large enough for city living, but the bathroom was surprisingly tight. You could not leave the shower door open and the toilet lid up at the same time.
We took the city tram, which was clean and a good way to see different neighborhoods. You swipe your metro ticket to enter, and for unknown reasons, swipe to exit it as well, though it is not enforced.
We walked through a park and stretched out on the grass for a while. I was reminded of our nap along a dusty river bank in Florence the previous summer. Therein lies the benefit of traveling in warmer weather; when you need respite, you can seek out a patch of lawn to take a restful break.
A bit refreshed, we went in search of Foodhallen, a food hall that a colleague had told me her friend in Amsterdam recommended.
We had some difficulty finding it, but after asking a couple of kindly people, we arrived and found… a dead quiet, practically empty space.
I was surprised, especially since it was definitely still open according to the hours listed outside. As we walked through the hall, we saw doors on one side that displayed this sign.
Through the doors, another huge space opened up, this one bustling with all kinds of food stands lined up along walls surrounding tables and tables of people eating, drinking, and chatting on matching high wooden benches. What acoustics; how incredible that the main hall remained so silent when all this life was going on right adjacent to it.
We made a full tour of the offerings before selecting Vietnamese sandwiches and finding a table off to the side.
Post dinner, we took a walk and looked for a bus line that would take us back to the apartment. While waiting at the stop, I fished a cough drop out of my bag, threw out the used tissues accumulated in every pocket (a delightful detail you appreciate, I’m sure), looked at the blue evening sky, and felt lucky indeed.