Ah, Amsterdam. For many, this city is a place to indulge in things not normally allowed – not normally legal, in fact – in their own countries. It’s true that I’ve smelled my fair share of pot in the past two days, and last night I was encouraged to purchase the services of a prostitute. That was a first for me.
In my Amsterdam, however, the great temptation so far has been – and there are no surprises here – CHEESE.
Gouda – pronounced HHOW-da – is everywhere here. Young (jong) is more mellow and old (oude) is stronger and saltier. Both are DELICIOUS. At almost every turn there are shops selling colorful wax-covered wheels of this miraculous cheese. And where there are wax-covered wheels of cheese, there are samples.
I have resisted the urge to just go from one cheese shop to another. I limit myself to those I wander past as I am exploring parts of the city for other reasons altogether. But I have not let an opportunity to sample cheese go by, nor do I intend to. I have not, interestingly, ordered much food with cheese in it – these small bits of perfection seem to be enough for me, so perhaps I am not indulging after all?
When I told people I was coming to Amsterdam, without exception everyone told me I would love it and that I could “do Amsterdam” in about two days. I’ve been here for two days and I can tell you, I haven’t gotten anywhere near finishing with all of the wonderful
cheese sights the city has to offer. The buildings are just miraculous with charming canals and boat houses, parks and courtyards at every turn. The people are, well, TALL, exceptionally blond, but most noticeably very friendly and almost entirely bi-lingual. (Seriously, I have never seen so many adults with natural blond hair in my life). The vibe is that everyone is on vacation, even the locals. How could you ‘do’ this in two days? I want to stay forever.
Or at least until they run out of cheese.
Which won’t happen too quickly.