Before we left for Europe, I asked a friend of mine–a co-worker from Italy–what nice things I could do with my wife in Amsterdam.
He shook his head. “Your wife? Already you have ruined Amsterdam.”
And I can kind of see what he means. Kristy is an excellent guide to places like the Rijksmuseum. She takes me safely through crowded streets, up and down stairs, in and out of alleyways, and around piles of dog shit. But I’ve noticed a certain selectivity in what she points out to me as we travel. She mentions bakeries, souvenir shops, and old churches. So far, in Amsterdam, we have passed no coffee shops, sex shops, or gentlemen’s clubs. Perhaps the city, once home to many English Puritans, has retained a heritage of restraint and temperance?
Either way, the city is adorable, with its canals and tall, narrow buildings. Kristy wonders about the possibility of moving here. I am open to the possibility, even if my Italian friend’s words suggest that it might be a bad idea.
Our hotel–Hotel Clemens–is lovely, and it’s staffed with the friendliest people we’ve met on the trip. These are the steps just inside the door to the hotel. (There is no elevator.)
Notice how the stairs curve sharply at the top and grow steeper? Good times! The concierge carried both our suitcases up these stairs, plus another (similar) set to the second floor, where we have our room. He refused a tip, saying, “You will be here three days. We [the hotel staff] must take care of you.”
Almost everyone here speaks impeccable English–better, in fact, than many people from the United States. We asked our waiter about it after dinner, and he credited American pop culture, noting that you pick up a lot by listening to American music and watching American movies. Cultural imperialism at work!
Tomorrow, we have a seven hour walking tour, which includes a canal trip and the Anne Frank House.