Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Amsterdam: 3 July

The train ride from Brussels to Amsterdam is just a breeze - first class we have lots of room and the seats are big. It is about 3 hours north. The countryside is oddly familiar to an Iowa farm girl. It looks just like where I grew up - flat, flat and more flat. Green, beautiful corn, cows, sheep and horses. Lovely.

We arrive to a torrent of rain and a chill - I have one sweater and it is getting its wear. We arrive at our B&B - near the university - and it is mostly quiet, a wonderful room. What we wonder so far in the ride in the cab from the station through the center of the city and as we walk the neighborhoods is this: Is there anyone over 25 living here? Everyone is young, very hip, but not in that overdone kind of way. A little edgy, alternative. Next question: Does anyone NOT smoke here? I am having to tie Lee's hands behind his back to keep him from buying a pack of Marlboros. (He's a diabetic or I wouldn't care.) We have a very late lunch, take a nap, wake up at 9:00 and head out to dinner. So far, Amsterdam seems like a cross between New York and San Francisco - the bustle of NYC in places and the uniqueness of SF - quaint, beautiful streets, water everywhere - intelligent people, great bookstores.

We are very casually dressed because that seems to be the thing here - also, it is still raining off and on. We find a restaurant that looks great, but linger outside trying to decide if we are under-dressed. For the first time all day, we see adults over 25, they are well-dressed and sitting in all the trendy restaurants on the street. Someone from inside sees us and motions us in - with a friendly smile. We oblige and have a nice conversation about the food, Callaway Golf (Lee is wearing his Callaway jacket) and where we are from.

The food is just divine. See the note at right. The sun is up here until almost 11 - it is dusk throughout the meal. The guests are attractive, seem happy, linger over dinner and smoke over coffee and cordials. The highlight? A beautifully dressed woman in red heels (but tasteful) with a great red bag and khaki trench coat leaves the restaurant with her date. You imagine they will go get in their BMW, but instead, she stops in front of the restaurant and gets on a turquoise bike and rides off in her red pumps - her boyfriend just behind. Lee's comment: You would never see that in LA.
You gotta love a place like this.

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