The following morning, we went on a quick excursion to the little Dutch fishing village of Volendam on the coast. It was the cuteness.
My luggage had become way too bulky and heavy, so after our return to the city and a neat little visit to a diamond-cutting factory, I hauled all my liquor and liquid-y goods to the Amsterdam post office. I mailed home ouzo from Greece, bellini and balsamic vinegar from Italy, Schaps from Austria, pesto, sunflower seed paté, wine, and absinthe from Germany, and more. 14 kgs (over 30 lbs!) of stuff!
Several other members of the group trekked to the post office with me, and after that, we got lunch at Velida’s Sandwiches Shop.
Since I hadn’t been terribly impressed by the falafel sandwich I ate in Cologne, I ordered one here. And MMM, it was so much better! It took a good ten minutes for them to prepare, because they made the patties fresh and fried them on the spot. Topped with garlic and hot sauces and encased in pita, it made a great lunch.
After we finished eating, we walked to Anne Frank’s house and took the tour. We spent a solemn hour exploring the little house and attic and engrossing ourselves in the exhibits.
After that, I set out on my own for the afternoon. I had plenty I wanted to do, but was in no kind of hurry. I walked alongside a canal for a bit, enjoying the mild weather.
After that, I visited the Tulip Museum! It was adorable—just one little room. Tulips have always been my favorite flowers.
Amsterdam is the city of bicycles, and I learned that there are 600,000 of them there! Parking spots were few and far between, and I didn’t even see a single parking lot anywhere.
I browsed through the floating flower market, which is comprised of stalls selling flowers, seeds, vegetables, and more. The shops are all attached to the side of – but floating in – one of the bigger canals.
I stopped for a sweet snack at My Dabba, which was, from what I could tell, an organic-and-natural-foods café.
I ordered a trio of mini slices of cake: orange creamsicle, chocolate raspberry fudge, and lemon.
I had just a bit more time to kill after that, so I checked out Amsterdam’s sweet public library. It was sleek, clean, and modern.
I met the group for dinner at Sea Palace, a pagoda-style floating Chinese restaurant. The Dutch are big on Asian food, apparently.
I had a thick-brothed vegetable soup to start.
The main course they prepared for me was a huge plate of Kung Pao vegetables, steamed broccoli and snow peas, and a surprisingly good mushroom-and-onion stir-fry.
Dessert was a smiley-face-reminiscent trio of green tea ice cream, a baked peach half, and a fried chunk of pineapple.
It was our group’s last night in Europe. After 35 days together, we’d grown quite close. The nighttime canal cruise we took was a bittersweet delight, what with all the preemptive goodbyes being exchanged.
After the cruise, we traipsed down to the Grasshopper, arguably the most famous pot bar in Amsterdam and the world. I went downstairs with Isis and Sharleen and checked out the first and only marijuana menu I have ever seen. They had different varieties and flavors to choose from, plus pot brownies and other baked goods. I wasn’t interested in partaking, though—I went back upstairs for shots of Jaeger on the patio.
Isis and Sharleen and I wandered off into the Red Light District for a very interesting couple hours of shopping/browsing, drinking, and general wandering. We stayed out so long that when we returned to the Grasshopper, the rest of the group was gone, so we took a cab back to our hotel. It was an awesome, amazing, tremendously splendid final day and night in Europe.
I’ve got one more Europe entry to go, where I return to London for one more overnight stay and then make my way over the pond and back home.