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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TODAY IN AMSTERDAM

The city of Amsterdam has a population of 1.4 million, slightly larger than the State of Hawaii (if it's noon in Amsterdam, it is midnight in Honoulu).  Schiphol Airport will reach close to 50 million passengers this year, quite a bit more than Honolulu Airport at 18 million.  There are many ways to get to your downtown hotel in Amsterdam.  A taxi will cost about $130 roundtrip, while the hotel shuttle (if you don't mind waiting around), would be close to $40 both ways.  There are cheaper options, especially if you don't have baggage.

I'm in the Pulitzer Hotel and my first room was at street level.  I joked to the reception desk that I felt like one of those girls in that red photo below.  So, they moved me to just about the best room in the house.  There are three rooms, including a kitchen, on the top floor overlooking one of the canals.  I wasn't really complaining, but they took it seriously.


The hotel TV has a 100 channels and the greatest variety of international stations I've ever seen.  There must be more than two dozen just from Africa and the Middle East, and almost everything you see on cable in the USA. 


The range of restaurants in town is also impressive.  However, the standard luncheon meal is a sandwich, so I ended up at the very expensive Grand Amrath Hotel (above) and the largest burger I've seen in decades.  The whitish topping is cheese covering a patty that was five times larger than a Big Mac, which was the other option I was considering..  The recommended starting drink was a combination of a small glass of beer and a Jenever, a kind of Dutch gin.  I walked in at 12.45 and I was the only customer.  At 1:30 as I was completing my meal, finally, eight people walked in, then two more.  I guess they lunch late here.


The signature local meal is the rijsttafel, or rice table, which could be 10 to 40 small dishes of whatever the restaurant feels like giving you, and could cost from $25 to $50, or more.  The link is mostly with Indonesia, but there is a strong Indian theme.

There are 16.5 million people and 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands, the only country with more of the latter than the former.  Bicycle thefts are a fact of life in Amsterdam, so it is important to not only lock it, but use a metal cord that secures more than one wheel.  Else, you will end up saving, say, one wheel.

This is wonderful tourist town with a full range of museums, a famous Red Light District and tourists walking all over the place, day and night.  There has been a Chinatown since the 1600's,  a variety of outdoor markets, canals, Heineken beer, tulips (but only in the Spring) and windmills.  Safer than most large cities in Europe, but this mostly comes from the tourist office.  There are those coffee shops (no, not for coffee, but to buy and smoke marijuana, where, interestingly enough, you cannot smoke regular tobacco) and smart shops (for magic mushrooms and truffles, etc.), all not quite legal, but tolerated by the law.

Dinner tonight was at 238 in my hotel.  I would say this is a Dutch-French fusion restaurant.  I received a free Chardonnay from Languedoc, ordered a Merlot-Cabernot-Syrah from Languedoc, and ate an outstanding salmon on spinach accompanied by a huge Caesar salad.
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Hurricane Jova made landfall as a Category 2 storm over Manzanillo, is weakening and will next affect Puerto Vallarta.  There are also three other ocean storms in the general region:


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2 comments:

Larina Perez said...

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