Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bike Rides and Rijsttafels

Amsterdam XXX 

After another night of raucous nightlife just outside our hotel room window in the Leidseplein (Leidse Square), we woke up ready to enjoy a wonderfully quiet Sunday in Amsterdam.

The Leidseplein Viewed From Our Hotel Room

Partly counting on Sunday morning being a bit quieter, I had scheduled a 2 hour bike tour from Mike's Bikes starting at noon. Despite the cold crisp temps and a sky that was sputtering a few rain sprinkles now and then, we ventured out on our big "Townie" cruiser bikes. Our guide was Mike from Minnesota. He had been a history major and started the tour with an abridged history of the city. Mike skillfully led us novices through the city without any trips to the trauma ward.

Our Guide Mike Describes His Adopted City

We rode across the "narrow bridge" and then across the length and breadth of the City.

One of the "Narrow" Bridges

Passed Some Pretty Interesting Street Art

We also got advice on restaurants that the locals eat at, information about the cost of living, and just a lot of information that was not sanctioned by the tourist bureau.

One thing that was interesting was finding out that the white "XXX" found on a black stripe set in a red background is the official symbol of Amsterdam. Now before you jump to conclusions it actually stands for three Saint Andrew's crosses.

The Steeple of The West Church With The Three "X"'s

Saint Andrew was a fisherman crucified on an "X" shaped cross in the first century. Since Amsterdam began as a fisherman's town and has been brought to its knees to prayer by three disasters: fires, floods, and plagues, it was logical that Amsterdam would adopt the three "X"'s as its coat of arms in 1505.

Along the Ride

We then returned to the hotel to warm up. I took a break in the executive lounge for a nice warm latte and a little time spent watching the ski jump competition from Zakopane Poland. 

Dinner was in the Srikandi Indonesian restaurant for a uniquely Dutch invention the "Rijsttafel" or "Rice Table". This is where you are served a big bowl of rice and then lots of small dishes with meat and vegetable Indonesian style tapas. The food was wonderful and the overheard conversation from the  band of British college boys at the table next to ours was a hoot.

Tomorrow we take in Amsterdam's Monday Flea Market. Mike says we could probably buy back some of his stolen bikes.

Roadboy's Travels © 2011

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