Thursday, February 23, 2012

Welcome to Amsterdam

Welcome to Amsterdam Hilversum. I had the opportunity, last minute, to jump in a friend's £400 car and drive through 4 countries in 6 hours to visit Steph, Paul's better half.  Steph works at an international fragrance company in a town 20mins south of the 'Dam, an amazing opportunity for her, and to which we will come to later.  

Now, I'm no spring chicken when it comes to travelling, but let me tell you, I get some serious delight off the signs that point to France from the car park at the Folkstone terminal.  We load our car onto the train and whizz off into the night.  4 people eating egg sandwiches under the sea. 

We drive through the night to reach a cold rainy Amsterdam - all wet noses, manicured hedges and lumbering Dutch bikes. PS - while they don't dress well, their collective cheekbones could slice paper, and yup, they sure are tall - I loves.  Hilversum, where we stayed, is not a pretty town.  Its neighbour to the north however, is gorgeous. In Laren we sipped spiced wine in candle lit pubs for the retired ;), savored Frederic Malle's fine fragrances (formulated by the top 9 'noses' in the world) and wandered around the obviously wealthy, perfectly kept village, lit charmingly with post-christmas fairy lights entangled in the bare branches of her trees. 

The remainder of the weekend entailed mostly eating.  Lots of eating. Paul and Steph are fine, fine chefs. We did manage to skip over to Amsterdam on the sunday afternoon - rode the trams, admired the askew lines of 17th century homes beside the canals and drank more spiced wine.  Just as we were about to return to our car, I demanded a visit to the red light district, which is where we found ourselves  late Sunday afternoon.  It was dark by now, still cold, as we wandered down.  Amsterdam's a strange place, the sluggish warmth of the special coffee shops, lines of tourists, painterly museums, ladies of all shapes and ages displayed in windows, high brow sex stores.   This seems to be a world of contradictions on the surface. Young families sunday strolling with the kids past windows of women in fluro underwear? I don't know.  

I did enjoy seeing these parked in the underground car park though: hmmm sexy.  Why the layer of dust, I don't know. 

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