Amsterdam, Netherlands

The greatest incentive for visiting Amsterdam was that it is one of the shortest flights to continental Europe, an approximately seven-hour flight. The flight was easy, especially as it was Shuie’s first time taking to the skies. The only trouble we encountered at the airport was looking for a taxi because, for some reason, the Dutch drivers in the taxi line all refused to take the boyos even in their carriers. The dispatcher had to make a call on the radio to see if there were any drivers willing to take dogs. Fortunately it did not take that long for one to arrive, only about 30 minutes, but even then it was more likely the driver was having a slow day than being courteous. We spent the first day hitting up the Van Gogh Museum, taking turns entering while the other played with the boys in Museum Park, an open plaza in front of the gallery.

By one of the many canals in Amsterdam.

Next we took a canal ride where we discovered that Shuie enjoys standing on the bow of a boat like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. The next day we decided to cycle through Vondel Park, the main park in the city, but when we went to rent a couple of solid commuter bikes we determined that Lucy could not be trusted with herself on a bike let alone with Shuie or Blessu in her basket. Fortunately the shop returned our money having laughed at us while watching us try to pedal three feet, but to be fair, Lucy had never been taught how to ride a bike growing up and trying to catch up now with a heavy Harley of a bike on busy streets was not my brightest idea. As such, we decided to just walk the park after which we grabbed a tram and headed to the Rijkmuseum which housed many famous paintings such as Vermeer’s “the Milk Maid” and Rembrandt’s "The Night Watch," in front of which, I would loved to have photographed the boyos had they been allowed inside.

Waiter! Another round please!

Shuey the lap pup.

I had visited Amsterdam once before during a backpacking trip in the dead of winter and it was amazing to see the stark contrast between then and the late spring. Where as in winter everything is contained indoors by a warm fireplace, in spring everything gets moved outside. We found a nice beergarten by the central train station and sampled some local Dutch brew ten times finer than that of the Heineken or Amstel production line. Only here did the Shih Tzus sitting in our laps while we drank, attract a bit of kind looks and sometimes, bewildered attention. Next, zipping up the stroller, I decided to veer us through the Red Light District to take in some subculture. Some widow-dressers would look at the boyos in their stroller and giggle and, well, others I guess were more business minded. In our search for other facets of Dutch culture in Amsterdam we sort of came up short. We could not find any discernable Dutch cuisine but enjoyed many a döner kebab. We got plenty of art in the museums but did not see as much aesthetics in the streets. The canals were rather attractive although the water quality, well, lets just say we held onto the boyos tightly. The city was very modern and well organized. The zoning system has proven to work very well in that we never encountered any crudeness or cannabis stenched air. The Dutch people were a mixed lot. It was impressive that they all spoke English very well but then, we did not encounter enough friendly people with which to strike up a conversation. We decided to rent a car, the only way to really travel in Europe, especially with the Boyos, and headed out to nearby Brussels, Belgium….

The Land of Windmills.

Worst part: Being stopped for entering a pedestrian-only zone within five minutes of renting a car. Best part: The officer assessing that I was an American tourist and putting away his ticket pad and giving me direction to the hotel in plain but amused English.

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