Our first morning, we walked to Amsterdam Centraal. As the main transportation station, it connected the trains and ferries and trams to the rest of the country. It was a hub of energy. We joined the flow of weary travelers and brisk pedestrians and zippy bicyclists.
At a crosswalk, a man in a flower-adorned bike sped past us. His long white hair flowed behind him.
We headed north toward the water.
We had spent our first afternoon hunting for slippers, to no avail. In a tourist shop that, coincidentally, shared our pet name, the owner guided us to the only two slippers left, hidden on the floor.
We thanked him and continued our quiet ambling. This led us to Chinatown, down a few neighborhood streets, then a farmer’s market on Waag: a “15th-century building on Nieuwmarkt square in Amsterdam.” Since we were stumbling upon places, we gathered this knowledge retrospectively. The square was bustling with pigeons and visitors. I could smell the cheese through my mask. Le beau grabbed a mango smoothie.
We zigzagged through neighborhoods and past dams. We stopped by a playground, a school, an alley. We joined the hipstery crowds and dodged carefree drivers, who simply plunked onto alleyway curbs and dinged the man behind us.
Intrigued by the commanding church by Centraal, we entered the heavy, quiet and religiously adorned Basilica Church.
Having secured slippers, we embarked on a new adventure: getting Dutch pancakes. Known as pannenkoek, Dutch pancakes are the size of pizzas. They’re thinner than American pancakes, thicker than French pancakes, and enjoyed savory or sweet.
Unbeknownst to us, the main pancake place in town was filled with a line snaking out of it. So after walking from one place to another, inquiring about takeout (most of them didn’t) we settled on mini Dutch pancakes, or poffertjes. Tiny, round and fluffy, poffertjes are baby pancakes dusted in powdered sugar and syrup. We ate our poffertjes on a bench overlooking Centraal.
After a quick break at the hotel, we walked towards the canals. Le beau had a general list of destinations in mind, so I followed him as we walked around the city.
We stood by Singel Canal, which “encircled Amsterdam in the Middle Ages, serving as a moat around the city until 1585, when Amsterdam expanded beyond the Singel.”
We walked through Queer Garden, past the Dolphin House, and to Bloom Market. At Rembrandtplein Square, which reminded me of Millennium Park Chicago, we ate bratwursts and kreukerwursts.
On the walk back, we went through Kalverstraat, a busy shopping street lined with popular stores and fairy lights. Less daunted by crowds than the night before, we linked arms, presenting ourselves as a unit. We squealed when people shifted around us, and we weren’t constantly separated.