Day 7: Amsterdam, part II

Hard to believe we’ve been in the Netherlands for a week now, and are halfway through our European adventure. But we had a great last day here with U. We were planning to head out for brunch around 11, so I rolled out of bed at 9 and hopped into the shower. After I got out, U and A took their showers, and it was then of course time for our morning tea (what we call “chaha,” which is similar in taste to Lipton tea, but U makes it the Indian way, using this brown powder). Next, U asked to finally have her hair styled using my fancy T3 Duality straightener (which, conveniently, is dual voltage, so I just have to use a plug adapter), so there went 30 minutes (she was satisfied in the end, though). So…by the time we got to the bus stop, it was nearly noon. We got off at Utrect’s Centraal Station, and then walked down the street to the outdoor walking/shopping area.

We didn’t want to take the time to stop to eat, but we did swing through U’s favorite bakery to pick up some sweets (for A: a raspberry mousse thing, for U a chocolate eclair, and for me a lemon-meringue tart and a cheese-stuffed croissant, which I’m saving for tomorrow). Then we swung by a frites booth to get some fries, this time with satay sauce. Those we ate on the way back to the train station. As with every place we’ve gone via train, the trip took about 35 minutes. If you’re a little bit tired, the motion of the train can really get you sleepy..

We rolled into Amsterdam around 2:30. I was immediately extra glad we’d come back to Amsterdam for a second visit, as this time (as opposed to Wednesday), the weather was really beautiful — in the 50s and sunny. We had a little time to kill before A’s 4 p.m. tattoo appointment, so we headed south from the station to hit up a couple stores we’d found addresses for online (Puma and Swatch).

We managed to only lose about 10 minutes while lost/disoriented — and were a bit comforted to see at least one person on every other corner confusedly looking at a map of the city!

It was about 3 by the time we got to the shops, so we didn’t spend much time shopping. A picked up a couple bags at Puma (extras of a bag she’d picked up at a Puma in Den Haag yesterday) and I got a watch at Swatch. Then we hightailed it north towards the Red Light District, and managed to walk into Hanky Panky Tattoo with a couple minutes to spare. U and I ate our pastries from the morning while A got inked (an Indian-style elephant, on her right shoulder blade). It was a little disconcerting to be eating sweets in the shop’s lobby, with the pumping music and tattoo art all over!

A’s tattooing was pretty quick, maybe 15 minutes (it took about half an hour for them to figure out the tattoo itself, location, etc.), so by 5, we were walking down south toward the Heineken Experience. We ended up jumping on a tram to go the half mile or so (the guys at the tattoo shop had told us it was too far to walk, but it really wasn’t, so we walked back after wards).

We were a bit taken aback at the admission fee of 15 Euro — about $23 — but we figured we were already there, and we’d also read that we’d get a free Heineken glass upon our exit. The place is the site of the original Heineken factory, but they don’t actually brew beer there anymore. The “experience” gives you a history of the Heineken founders/family and their beer-making process. There was a silly “ride” where about 20 of us stood in rows behind these railings, and “experienced” the process of beer making. The steps we stood on went up and down and side to side to simulate the brewing and bottling phases of the process. Pretty cheesy. Probably the most enjoyable part of the Experience was making the green-screen video, which you can see on my previous blog post. We’ve watched the video four times now and we still laugh just as hard!!

At the end of the tour, A and I shelled out $7.50 to get a bottle of Heineken (yes, it has real beer in it) with a custom label. Mine says: Brewed at Heineken Experience, Amsterdam, Holland by Pooja! A also bought a couple beer glasses, which she got engraved for herself and our dad.

We’d been planning to then go to the Van Gogh Museum, which was maybe a half mile from the H.E., but by that time it was 7:30 or 8, and we were craving pizza, so we started walking back up towards the train station. On the way, we spied a restaurant called New York Pizza, so we stopped in to share a medium four-cheese pizza. It was of course nowhere near being called “New York”-style pizza, but it did really hit the spot. Between NY Pizza and the station, we made sure to find and stop by a “coffee shop” so A could restock on her special brownies …

Now, we’ve drank our traditional evening tea, had some snacks, and are doing laundry. Tomorrow, A and I have to head out of the apartment by noon or so to begin the journey to Eindhoven airport for our flight to Prague. I’ve pulled up a “What to do for two days in Prague” list, so as long as the weather cooperates, we’ll hopefully make the most of our time over there. I’m also crossing my fingers the hostel is good! Packing tonight/tomorrow will be tricky; checking in bags costs about $15, so we’re each just carrying on one bag. Figuring out the whole liquids/gels business will be fun! Not sure what the Internet solution will be at our hostel, but hopefully I’ll be blogging from the Czech Republic tomorrow night!

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