I awake this morning know that I have to say goodbye to my beloved Paris. It is a perfect morning. Last croissants and baguettes. I will miss this place, this city that touches my soul. For a total contrast, today we move on to Amsterdam. We catch the Thalys fast train from Gare du Nord to Amsterdam Centraal. Just over 3 hours with speeds up to 300km/h. With first class tickets in hand we settle in to our roomy seats, hook into the free wi-fi and settle back for the journey. I have travelled this route before on the Thalys. Was my romantic memory blinding me or have the standards slipped. We were served snacks. Interesting sandwiches with sweet snacks. When it came to the main meal they had apparently miscalculated the meals and quite a few passengers including us missed out. They offered a replacement from the buffet car. Its not that I don’t appreciate it but I don’t really eat 50 second microwave burgers. Bunch of chemicals purporting to look like food. Arrival into Amsterdam on a Sunny afternoon.
We are staying at the Hotel Zandenberg near the Vondelpark which is in a beautiful area of Amsterdam away from the tourist traps and seedy nightlife. A great little boutique hotel. Went for a big walk along the streets filled with shops and people out enjoying the weather. Caitlin and I were a bit peckish so we got the Frites from the hole in the wall [see previous blog]. So nice. We went for a walk through the Red Light District. Not many girls in the windows yet and those that were working were totally off chop. I always thought these girls would be young and reasonable looking. Not the case. They seem to have a bit of age about them. It really is a walk down unfortunate and sad street. A part of the culture here though, along with the brown cafes whose aroma wafts for blocks. Guys having big reefers followed by the big bong cough. Had dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant in the Lidelsplein area. Followed by a begian waffle, ice cream and chocolate sauce. OMG – unbelievable. The waffles really are to die for. Amsterdam is so picturesque, beautiful architecture, canals, diverse and tolerant. Great mix!