Back at work, everyone asked with raised eyebrows if I had fun in Amsterdam, thinking I engaged in scandalous or illegal activities. I did have fun, but I didn't go to Amsterdam because of the Red Light District or the prevalence of marijuana.
I arrived on New Year's Eve in the late afternoon, and Green-Eyed Dutchman (GED) met me and took me to the apartment that he's currently renting from a friend. It's a great place right on one of the canals, and I really enjoyed the view, watching the canal freeze over just about every day and the ducks and seagulls swimming in the cold water until they got to the edge of the ice and started walking. After a long night/day of travelling, I took a shower and put on fresh clothes and enjoyed my first home-cooked meal by GED. He's of Indonesian descent, and that night he made me an Indonesian chicken dish with vegetables over noodles. I was very impressed. It was delicious!
The trams stopped running around 7 or 8 that night, so we just walked into town to enjoy the festivities. It was about a 20 minute walk to the main center of town. We walked passed Dam Square, which I recognized from my previous trip and from our trek to his apartment earlier from Centraal Station, and GED looked around and asked aloud (to himself) which direction was Centraal Station? I immediately pointed which way it was, and he looked surprised. I have a very good sense of direction and my confidence convinced him to trust me. Although GED is Dutch, he's not from Amsterdam, and since moving there three months ago has spent most of that time on business trips out of the country. He hasn't had much time to get acquainted with the city, but I still teased him that an American was giving him directions.
The Dutch celebrate New Year's with lots of fireworks. Everyone seemed to be setting them off all around us. I squealed and jumped several times on our walk. Passing through the Red Light District, we made it to Nieuwmarkt Square and got a couple beers. We stood outside along with people from many other countries and watched as the fireworks increased up to midnight. Here, see for yourself:
And the rest will be in another post...