Amsterdam has been an absolute dream, I really couldn’t think of a better way for Lalit and I to spend the beginning of 2016 together. We booked a nice long stay, giving us lots of time to get to know the city and really enjoy everything thoroughly from the tourist attractions to the popular restaurants. It also left lots of room for spontaneity.
We hit the ground running by heading straight to the Van Gogh Museum. It had a spectrum of his lesser known pieces as well as several of his masterpieces (my favourite being the Almond Blossoms). It gave a portrayal of his entire life, from his early muses of peasants and to the evolution of his art as he travelled the world. You could see how experimental he was. The exhibit also included a detailed description of his closest relationships, his struggles with mental health (the famous self removal of his left ear) and his eventual suicide.
After getting exhausted by the walk to the museum Lalit and I mastered the Tram route home quickly. The entire time, Lalit was dropping hints about what he has secretly planned for us that night. He had been teasing me about his surprise plans for a few weeks now and I was itching to know what it was…
“Is it indoors or outdoors?”
“Oh umm… kinda both”
“What should I wear?”
“I dunno.. bring a little of everything”
Needless to say I had no clue and was kind of preparing myself for anything from a restaurant meal to an awkward helicopter ride (I have a wild imagination).
Lalit, being the dreamboat he is surprised me by booking a candlelit dinner on an actual dreamboat! We took a night tour through the entire city via the canals. The first thing I noticed was that the residents on the water really did not seem to value privacy. The drapes were left open all night displaying their brilliant Christmas trees, families sitting down for dinner, 20-somethings doing yoga, shirtless men grabbing a beer from the fridge… the usual suppose…and houseboats were no exception! We had a 4 course meal of 5 star quality and it could not have been timed better, as we were there in time for the city’s Light Festival, where art was illuminated across the water. I must admit this is probably one of the most romantic things he’s ever done for me.
New years eve was the following day. The city had been alive with revelers setting off fire crackers all week, which frightened me half to death when I heard random explosions going off in broad daylight. We ventured to the Rijksmuseum, which I must admit I didn’t find particularly exciting and after a little exploring we decided to take a taxi bike home.
I was wined and dined by my boyfriend yet again when he made more surprise reservations for us at an amazing restaurant in Dam Square (I’m one lucky girl I know). During dinner, we weren’t really sure what to do with the rest of our evening and the waiter recommended a few good hot spots. After stuffing our faces with enormous steaks we decided to regroup at the hotel. The streets became increasingly packed with pedestrians by the hour and when it was time to decide we thought we ought to stick to what we know. So we headed back to Dam Square for round two. This journey lasted all of 10 minutes. The road was absolutely chaotic with people setting off random fire crackers and fireworks…and my father’s words rung true in my ears… no one will trust a one-eyed optometrist. My sheer terror of getting caught in the crossfire of a stray firework led to the decision to stay close to home, so we went back towards the hotel and stumbled across one of the bars our waiter suggested. This was one of the classiest lounges I’ve ever been to! And we sheltered from the revelry in the company of fine cocktails and live music til just before midnight.
When we went back on the streets fireworks were everywhere… we almost thought we had gotten the time zone wrong there were so many of them. As it turns out, it’s the norm for fireworks to be going for the entire day on new years eve in Amsterdam. I wasn’t sure how the display could get bigger and brighter than the build up I had seen since my arrival but when we made it to the NEMO the sky lit up with truly astounding colour at the stroke of twelve. The fireworks continued to sparkle along the canals all night in the distance and the scene across the skyline was mesmerizing for the entire walk home.
I do still wonder how many people ended up hospitalized from firework-related accidents though.