I’m on my last night in Amsterdam, and it’s a much different city to Paris. I think that’s partly because we approached it in a different way (we were exhausted after Paris and wanted to be more relaxed), and because we chose possibly one of the busiest spots in Amsterdam to stay in. That and Paris is mostly on holidays in August, and Amsterdam is not.
Getting around in Amsterdam is again easy, though road crossing are perilous – bikes and scooters (which are treated like bikes apparently) show little regard for red lights, or pedestrian lights, and so a constant watch has to be kept out for them, or you may be collected – they are good at using their bells/horns though, so there is warning (provided you can hear them).
Transport around the city is mostly on foot (or bike if you want to hire one, we didn’t), or tram. The trams are more accessible than Paris’s Metro, but still not great. That said, I’ve seen far more people using mobility aids getting around Amsterdam than I did in Paris.
Communication is dead easy, because just about everyone speaks English (as well as Dutch and at least one other language). The signs and menus are generally in Dutch and English, and we haven’t had to attempt to communicate in Dutch, though there have been opportunities.
The best thing initially about Amsterdam was finding a Chinese massage venue, and having a well overdue foot massage. My feet returned to their normal shape and the blisters I had developed went away. I even went back a second time because massage is good, and it was only for 20 Euros for half an hour.
My first impression of Amsterdam was “OMG ALL THE PEOPLE”, which wasn’t so good for me (hello introversion), and I’d had a really stressful morning getting here (locking myself out of my apartment and almost missing my train). The last thing I wanted to do was go out and be in the midst of hundreds of people (busy corner of the city), but the next day when we went exploring and to the science and technology museum Nemo, I discovered that there are quiet spots in the city, and that it is not wall to wall people – this certainly improved my outlook.
Oh, and Nemo rocks. Any museum which demands that you touch things is good in my opinion, and Nemo is a museum aimed at adults and children with complex information presented simply, and not shying away from topics that I’ve never seen covered in Australian science and technology museums (Questacon and Scienceworks being the two I’ve been to) – such as puberty and sex – aimed at educating teenagers and parents/guardians about teenagers and puberty. Nemo has also partnered with a university in an attempt to create amino acids from base compounds – effectively to create the building blocks of life. They’ve documented the work done so far and the setbacks that have happened, all presented in a very easy to understand way. My favourite bit was the factory production gig, where people teamed together to fill set orders with special parameters (size, weight, colour), aiming to get the orders correct – with another group scanning the orders and learning about barcodes.
Nemo is an excellent example of a science and technology museum that is suitable for all ages.
As we took our days relatively easy in Amsterdam, time certainly passed quickly. We added to our gastronaut list, with Japanese, Surinamese+Chinese, Dutch, and Indonesian while we were here.
Tomorrow we’re off to Cologne for James’s conference, and I’ll be spending much of my time alone exploring the city.