We arrive in Amsterdam in the early morning. As soon as we clear Customs, we head for the train station (conveniently located in the airport) and buy a ticket. The agent tells us we have three minutes to catch the train, and we'd better hurry because there's about to be a strike and there may not be another train all day. We make it with a minute to spare.
Our apartment is located near central Amsterdam, within a hundred meters or so of a metro stop and bus and trolley stops. It's not fancy, but it's clean and cheap. If it wasn't in the attic at the top of 77 steep, winding stairs , it would be perfect.
Because the Dutch tax houses based on their width, houses are generally very narrow and very tall. Since it is virtually impossible to move furniture up the stairs, all houses are equipped with easily removable windows and a hook and hoist system at the upper eave. Our place was a bit unusual since instead of an external fixed hook and beam, the beam could be extended out through the window as needed. Some houses are angled out to reduce the chance of furniture crashing into the front of the house during moves.
After a quick freshen-up, we take to the streets to see the city. We find that it's not hard to find yourself in interesting spots, like stumbling onto a photo shoot, or finding the red light district.
Our days in Amsterdam are primarily focused on getting ready for the bike tour and dealing with jet lag. We're not museum people, so we passed on the major museums and the Anne Frank house, but figure we'll see them on the next trip.
Because Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, you will find Indonesian restaurants on almost every street. The signature dish is called "Rijsttafel" or "Rice Table" You get a couple of bowls of rice (steamed and coconut) and up to 20 small tastes of dishes ranging from sweet and cooling to burst into sweat hot (hotter than anything I've ever eaten - and that says a lot). Be adventurous and give rijsttafel a try.
After a day or so in Amsterdam, we had a craving for Mexican food, so against Jayne's better judgment, we gave one place a try. We've had this craving in other parts of the world and have discovered some truly amazing interpretations of "Mexican" food. (Such as the margaritas in Melbourne made with lemon juice. The owner/chef explained, in his sunny Pakistani accent that limes were just too expensive.) Surprisingly, this place wasn't that bad, though they didn't have chips and salsa.
Harbor - green building is a museum We could never figure out the significance of the statues in this green space we dubbed "Lizard Park" Though not the smallest car in Holland, this Swatch model is the smallest that's fully street-legal. There is one car type that has a moped engine that can be driven on the bike paths.
By Saturday, we've seen most of the town, and are ready to bike.