It all began very early this morning. We only had about two hours sleep before getting up and going to London Bridge. The time at which we boarded the train for Gatwick was so ghastly that it does not even exist:
The flight itself could also be discribed as unusual. It was rushed and the air hostesses barely had time to serve coffee before they had to pick up the empty cups.
Once we arrived in Amsterdam, we had to wait a long time for our bags to appear. Not knowing Dutch and feeling a bit tired, the following message on the screen gave us a start. It read: “Alle baggage is gelost”:
It seemed to mean that all the baggage had been lost. But the translation revealed that it actually meant all the baggage had been unloaded. Still, it took another thirty-five minutes from the point at which that message appeared before our bags actually appeared.
We had little trouble getting through the city to our hotel, Hotel Prinsenhof, which was built in the seventeenth century. The hotel is situated in the southern canal belt of the city and is located next to a canal. When we arrived at the hotel, we seemed to be magically welcomed by a self-opening door. We later discovered that it was another set of guests leaving the hotel who had pulled on a rope which opens the top half of the door from the top of the stairs. The rope mechanism seems to have been put in place because the stairs to the lobby are incredibly steep and the staff undoubtedly grew tired of climbing up and down.
Our room (the famous “Room number 9”) is at the very top of the hotel. It has beautiful beams in the ceilings and a short ladder which leads to the window from which we have excellent canal views:
After settling in, we went for a walk. We headed north through Waterlooplein, and then into the red light district. The district is famous for its coffee houses selling soft drugs and its brothels featuring women on display in windows. We did not stay there for long.
After the madness of the red light district, we walked to the more elegant area of Jordaan where we had coffee on the street from a little restaurant. The location of the restaurant proved good for people-watching and we saw a number of flamboyant cars and some people moving to the top floor of a nearby house. The style of moving was very interesting. Here is a picture:
Again, we see people using ropes to avoid the stairs.
After coffee, we walked through Jordaan back to our hotel. In the more fashionable districts we passed, it was often hard to tell if a ground level flat was a home or a gallery. Not only were they fashionably designed, but people seem to leave their curtains open as if they wished to display their homes.
(There are some more pictures of Amsterdam on my Flickr page. This photography blog will be updated with new images frequently.)