Post bustling Brussels, it was time for a rendezvous with perhaps one of the most vibrant and free-spirited cities in the world, Amsterdam. For some, the sheer openness and liberal fabric of this city may come as a shock. But that is quintessentially what makes the city it is. Needless to say it adds to its charm and glamour too. Our Amsterdam trip started with Keukenhoff, the Tulip garden. It was the most fabulous thing I had ever seen. A volley of colours awaited us at Keukenhoff. From shades of red to blue to yellow and orange, it was simply surreal. The landscape, the setting and the sheer variety of tulips was beyond description. It was mesmerizing. A couple of domes punctuated the expanse of the garden. With every step we marvelled at the beauty of the flowers and their arrangements. Two eyes and even my camera lens didn’t seem enough. We got almost 3 hours there but we could probably have spent days there. Flowers done, it was time now to get to know a bit more about the Dutch culture. What could have been better than clogs or wooden boots for that? So off we went to a traditional Dutch wooden shoe factory. One of the craftsmen gave us a lovely demo of how a clog is made from a block of wood from certain trees. It was absolutely fascinating. What we also got to know was that even though clogs now are a gateway into the nation’s past, people still wear then on special occasions like parties, weddings etc. They have clogs especially made for such occasions. So one can find diamond studded clogs to the simplest ones perhaps worn by farmers. Later we left for the city from Zaanse Schans, clog’ged with amazement.
We got down at Amsterdam Centraal. On one side there were the piers, where we could see boats lined up for the canal cruise and on the other, it was all commercial area, with shops and quaint cafes lining the sidewalks. The souvenir shops were brimming with tourists mainly with a smattering of locals. We checked out a cheese shop. I don’t know why but the person in charge glanced at us suspiciously! We stopped at a nice cafe and had coffee accompanied by pretzels. Coffee done, we took a nice walk on the street and did some window shopping. We had to cut our shopping short as it started to rain. By the time we waited for the rain to stop, it was time for us to hop on board a boat for the canal cruise. I was excited and a tad cold! The travel agency guys had arranged drinks for us on board. We had a lovely time taking in the sites of the city while we went along on the meandering canal route. Sadly for us, as they say, it came to an end like all other good things.
That was the last leg of our Amsterdam tour. Off we went to an Indian restaurant, where we had dinner and headed back to the hotel. Never had I felt such affinity towards a city as much as this, I thought, as I took in the sights of the sprawling pastures and lovely country side houses for the last time on our way to the hotel. Breezy Berlin was next.