Navigating canals (without a GPS)

Amsterdam, Netherlands

If we thought the streets were deserted last night, they were even more desolate this morning as we made our way to the train station for our 2-hour trip to Amsterdam. The flat landscape flying by our windows revealed quiet Dutch towns and as we spotted our first windmill, we knew that we had arrived here in the Netherlands.

There was little choice as the cab driver blatantly ripped us off for the short ride to our hotel, the Moevenpick. Although it would have been a 10-minute walk, it was not one that we were doing with all of our bags and gear. So, we bit the 15 Euro bullet. After a quick check-in, we enjoyed the view from our room before getting ready to hit the town.

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After a burger and fries, we crisscrossed the canals and found Anne Frank House, the secret annex in which the diarist and her family hid during the Nazi persecution. Although it was my second time visiting, the exhibit and experience was no less evocative and compelling.

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With the weather fluctuating between rain and freezing rain, we braved it to the Van Gogh Museum, passing the “iamsterdam” monument as the clouds momentarily broke. The collection inside the museum was, not surprisingly, pretty impressive. Our favorite was The Potato Eaters — curators had smartly decided to display the iconic piece alongside sketches comprising various elements of the final work, like the peasant faces. Almost like pieces to a puzzle.

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Back at the hotel, we warmed up in the sauna before heading out for dinner at a place called Grand Café l’Opera in Rembrandtplein. It was not the most amazing meal of our Eurotrip but the mozzarella sticks did rock.

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