The view from my bedroom window said it all; ducks swimming lazily past on one of the vast maze of canals that make up this unique city. I watched them in the morning, and then joined them later, using a canal boat pass instead of a bus pass, to go and experience the first day’s sights and sounds of Amsterdam.
First day in any great city is always shopping day, and what girl wouldn’t love a city jam-packed with streets dedicated to diamonds, flower stalls, and chocolate? All in all it is a little bit of a romantic paradise, even if you are, as I was, only romantically dreaming. In the end I picked out some tulip bulbs for the garden back home (which came out a beautiful rich red in the spring). So I didn’t quite buy the ultra rare yellow diamond ring that weekend, but who knows, it might still be there when I go back.
Day two was dedicated to a fine cultural experience. The Vincent Van Gogh Museum was in fact my main excuse for a visit, as I just ‘had’ to see Van Gogh’s paintings for a research project. My theory was that Mr V. V. Gogh was on a spiritual path to find his ‘true self’, and that he expressed it in key ways through his art. And of course I could only really know this for sure by seeing his art for myself. Truth be told, I wanted to be the sole discoverer of a ‘Vincent Van Gogh Code’ then write a novel and have it made into a film. Oh the dreams…
That evening was a bit of a starry night in itself too. I was there with my (ex) boyfriend, and we were rather shocked and enchanted all at the one time, by a walk around the infamous red-light district. What made it a rather memorable experience for us though, wasn’t particularly the shop-window displays, but rather this voice which came from behind, first in a whisper, then growing the more raucous the more we ignored it. A man was trying to sell us unmentionable things, which I won’t even dare to whisper here, all I can say is that they are capsules, which rhyme with the name of a famous waterfall…
Having successfully avoided pushy street sellers by night, we made it out into another sunny, and final, morning. Walking aimlessly down narrow streets, sitting in the Bluebird Cafe, listening to saxophone players, and taking lots and lots of photographs, that I made a big collage picture of when I got home. In the middle I put a great postcard of my friend Vincent smoking his pipe. I’ve got him to thank for whisking me off on that trip which I most definitely will repeat, the sooner the better.
Story written by Paula Hutchinson
**This short Travel Story was submitted as part of the Holiday Travel Writing Competition. All short-listed entries such as this one are published in our online Travel Guide**