Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back to Amsterdam

The lights decorating trees reflect off the water in an Amsterdam canal.

Asmus and I continued our streak of entering the new year in foreign country. We rang in 2009 in London (Thanks for the memories Pembury Tavern ).

Last year, we felt 2010 burst onto the scene in Amsterdam's Leidesplein and Heinecken Hoek bar with friends Tanja and Tobi. Last year was great, so this year should be even better, so we went back again. That is not really true. We planned to head back to the Pembury but someone (Please read: my husband) took too long to make plans, so there was not one decent hotel or bed & breakfast with a vacancy. Therefore, we were forced to hang out in Amsterdam.

Good choice.

For some reason, we got a room upgrade last year. We got a huge executive room with a whirlpool with a television aimed at it a few feet away from it. This year we had to stay in a junior suite. We suffered through a massive room with a free minibar that was replenished every day. The first night, two adults plowed through the Champagne, red wine, white wine, beer, vodka and gin. It was New Year's Eve!

We also had a whirlpool. But the best amenity were lots of channels in English. I have been staying at a lot of hotels lately. For some reason, hotels boast that they have channels in various languages, including English. Ninety-eight percent of the time this means CNN and/or BBC World News. How refreshing after a long day of sightseeing! Like the Hamburg Park-Hyatt, the Grand Amrath, Amsterdam, had BBC1 and BBC2. Plus, there was the British version of the Travel Channel. There was no Anthony Bourdain or Samantha Brown but it was interesting for a few minutes at a clip.

Besides all the amenities, the hotel was cool by design. It did not have the Rem Koolhaas touch. The hotel is located in the former home of several prominent shipping companies. The hotel had all the modern touches but maintained the Art Deco elements, like stained glass, and several hallmarks of the home of economic powerhouses, like a grand marble staircase.

Of course, I was still walking in fear on December 31. I think everyone with two hands gets fireworks for Christmas in Europe. I never knew when there would be a small explosion. Loud noises shake me up. Random loud noises break me down. Once inside a noisy club everything was good. Heineken Hoek is not some hipster lounge or some cool pub. It is a bar with loud music that can be good at times that sits on the Leidesplein. I can watch the fireworks and the festivities without being scared by them. Lame, yes. But it works.

Amsterdam was all that it should be. We had food from Morocco and Indonesia. We walked through the canals. We had massages. And we rang in 2011 in Leidesplein and at Heineken Hoek.

I think I smell tradition.