Much mischief can come from not understanding the differences between Dutch courage, or going Dutch, so I’m off to find some clarity, in Amsterdam, of course.
I am so excited! We are about to embark on a journey to parts of the world that I have imagined but never seen. Our first stop on this magical adventure is Amsterdam. When I t hink of Amsterdam I think sex, drugs and canal houses. A funny collection of thoughts I guess. I imagine it will be a relaxed, creative and colourful place.
After a long journey our plane touches down. We find our bags and head toward the exit to find our driver. A lovely young man is holding a sign with our name. He loads our bags into the car and offers us something to drink. Setted into the back seat gratefully sipping cool water, we head toward the centre of Amsterdam.
It is very pretty, deep green leafy streets with lots and lots of bicycles. Chatting to our driver about the bicycle culture I am fascinated as he tells us how common the bike is as a mode of transport. “What about if you have been out on the drinks though?” my love asks.Our driver shares how he was arrested once for cycling pissed. His defence of having ridden the bike rather than taking the car because he knew he would be enjoying a few beverages, didn’t impress the police apparently!
As we get closer to the centre of the old town our driver tells us how wonderful the location we have booked to stay is. Central, close to everything but also where the locals go, not necessarily where all the tourists hang out. That is great news. My love had found a little boutique hotel, Mauro Mansion, close to the sea port (for the start of our sea journey) and right on a canal. Our driver has to drive up and over a sidewalk to get over to the little tiny road our place is on. The canal is on on the left side of the narrow road. Our driver slowly squeezes his car along for a little way and stops out the front of an old, pretty, black and white building with a shiny black door. There is a narrow area out the front enclosed with a metal rail that has pretty baskets of flowers growing and glossy black bicycle leaning against it. This is it!
The driver tells us he will need to park to let other cars get down the very narrow road but we will need to get out first. We get out and look around – I’m not sure where he thinks he will park. Oh god he starts backing the car toward the canal! I hold my breath unable to take my eyes off the car. I’m thinking if he goes in the drink all our bags are in there! At the last possible moment he spins the steering wheel straightening the car up to be parallel with the canal and amazingly between 2 poles, each only a foot from the front and back of the car. The tyres are only a few centimetres from the edge of the canal that drops sharply down to the water below.
Ok it’s alright, he’s just got to climb over to the passenger seat and it’s all good . Phew, I get one breath in, then oh shit he’s opened the driver door, on the canal side! He gets out balancing on his toes does an amazingly nonchalant maneuver to close the car door and shinny up the side of the car. Finally our driver is safe and my visions of having to get scuba gear to liberate our suitcases have passed.
He pulls our bags from the car smiling widely like nothing had happened and wheels them over the little street to our new front door. Man this kid is amazing – he deserves a good tip for performing what to me looked like an impossible feat! I remember feeling really pleased with myself squeezing my little car into a tight shopping centre carpark that took me six goes to get in. This young man put that very much into perspective! We thank him profusely and wave him on his way.
We open our big door and head inside to find a cute little ground floor reception desk and the breakfast room with little wooden tables and chairs. Our receptionist is a tall skinny British guy who gives us the rundown on the place, keys and a map of Amsterdam. My love chats with him for a bit about his coming to Amsterdam to live. He said he loves it and loves working at this little hotel. It’s clear already that this place has a great vibe, unique, personal and warm and we haven’t even seen our room yet.
We head up stairs, narrow turning stairs with a very small tread. Tricky business for my love who is hauling the big bags up. We open our door to a very cool room. Black shiny industrial feeling lino floors and very high ceilings frame a great space. Long windows are richly draped with red velvet and there is an old barber’s chair in one of the windows Perfectly placed for enjoying the stunning view of the canal below. We open our window and the sweet waft of Amsterdam is immediately noticeable. Three young lads sit legs dangling over the canal wall below lighting up their monster spliff.
Welcome to Amsterdam.