I have my lovely running friend Kathakoli Dasgupta to thank for yet another fab, chatty guest post.
Katha and Dave moved from Delhi to the UK a few years ago, and you’ll find a reference to running here in Delhi in this lovely post 🙂
And now over to the lady herself, in her own words:
“We have just come back from Amsterdam after spending 5 fabulous days.
This was our third attempt to get there.
Of course, my husband Dave has been several times for mates’ stag dos, but that basically involved beer and hangovers!
So anyway, we tried to get to Amsterdam in 2019. We reached the airport only to find that my Schengen visa which I assumed was for a year (I know I should have looked more closely!) was only issued as a single entry and had expired after our Barcelona trip a few months prior!
Then in 2020, the country went into lockdown a few days before we were due to fly.
Dave booked the trip again tentatively, but optimistically for 2022. I got my visa well in time, dates checked & all, Covid restrictions and testing were luckily lifted.
However, the jinx seemed to reappear.
Health issues (back injury, a bad bout of cold) almost put our trip in jeopardy once again.
On the day of our travel, we had our fingers crossed all of the time—from our drive to the airport to boarding and the entire duration of our flight, until the pilot prepared for landing. I looked down and saw patches of colour—like a rainbow. Tulip fields! Something I was most looking forward to seeing and which did turn out to be the highlight of the trip!
Heath issues did scupper our running plans. But we still managed to get out there for two—and a bit—runs. It helped that we stayed in a hotel close to the centre and right next to Vondelpark (Dave’s planning!) which allowed for interesting, exploratory runs.
First, in and around the park and second, venturing into Museumplein (museum square), finishing with short loop around a few canals. The third—which was barely 250 m—to justify photos for this blog was in Keukenhof Gardens—tulip paradise! Photo captions will hopefully do the story telling—of the few things that have stayed with me from our trip to this fabulous city.
Before I went there, I had the impression of it as being a party town—what with all the hen and stag do stories you hear. But there’s so much more to it. Together Dave and I discovered the cultural side of Amsterdam that can somewhat get clouded by hoppe bar haze and red light anecdotes.
I am going back again. I told Dave I might get my friends to plan a second ‘hen do’ when we decide to renew our wedding vows! It would entail exploring different areas of this city, visiting a few more museums—and probably involve a shop stop at the Diamond museum!
The largest city park attracts tourists and locals alike. There’s lots of cafés and bars and it also has an open air theatre. Running in Voldelpark reminded both Dave and me of our runs in Nehru Park in Delhi. Like Nehru Park, this too has a main walking/running track along with several trails that branch out, but eventually bring you back to the main track.
I knew cycling is the most popular form of transport in the Netherlands. But only after I visited Amsterdam that I realised the scale of it. The roads, the infrastructure is built around cyclists, there’s bikes of all sorts attached with everything from little flower baskets to baby & toddler carriers! And people cycle even in their evening wear—including high heels—effortlessly!
Canals and canal houses
Amsterdam is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’ because of the large network of canals. The houses along the canal are narrow, wonky and quaint for a visitors’ eyes. The gable tops (shapes ranging from spout, step, bell, flat…) attached with winches piqued our curiosity. Google search revealed that these winches are still used to lofty bulky loads to the top floors (which cannot be taken up the narrow stairs).
There are over 70 museums in Amsterdam—catering to people of all ages and interests. While these are scattered across the city, the museum square houses several famous museums including the Van Gogh and Rijks. We went to three this trip. Several others on my bucket list for the next time.
We were so lucky to visit during tulip season—about an 8 week period when the farms look a picture and the Keukenhof Gardens is open, showcasing tulips of every imaginable colour and some. We did a bike ride around the farms. It was an experience of a lifetime. And the garden itself—unreal! “
Dear Katha, thank you SO much for another lovely, happy, detailed guest post.
It all sounds such fun, and I can’t wait to see where your next function will take you both!!
And also can’t wait for your “hen do” and diamond trip 🙂 🙂