AMSTERDAM: Lazy Fair
Who said carnivals had to be confined to a tent? The fact that it lies so nonchalantly capping its numerous, winding river branches is typical of this ancient medieval city, now a font of consummate liberalism and cultural diversity. Amsterdam is a sea of colourful faces, exotic limbs, sensual aromas and intricate architecture. One could get lost in its heady, free-spirited, laissez-fair outlook but still find a comfortable, steady footing. With a history spanning back to the 12th Century, the city is the largest in tulip land and is the financial and cultural hub of Holland. If you want joie de vivre, then this is it. If you are a people-watcher, crowd-lover, avid shopper, comedy fan, eclectic writer, museum junkie, fashion connoisseur, food maniac or even just a placid stroller or yummy mummyAmsterdam beckons. Even if the phenomenon of a thousand charging bikers come at you like a herd of buffaloes.
Amsterdam is the biggest and the most colourful fair I have ever been to and is a veritable escapist’s zone from the mundane world of work.
With a population of nearly 750,000 Amsterdam ranks high in its stakes for offering sex, drugs andraw herring! And who said the Japanese alone ruled that autonomy? Wrong answer. As much as the Dutch are known for their prowess in the bakery (a divine dual chocolate croissants and/or cheese croissants?!), one cannot ignore their contribution to the fishing industry, what with the sea gods and canal goddesses offering bountiful fisheries. Fish vendors will sell fresh herring, to dilly-dallying ravenous numbers, salted and decorated with cubed onions. The city’s busy streets are lined with an assortment of international cuisine which includes bites from Thailand, Indonesia, China, India, Turkey, Morocco, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, America, Ireland, Germany and so-much-more-I-cannot-find-the -space-to-list-here! My favourite dining out venue has got to be a small family-run Nepali restaurant in Leidseplein, by the name of Sherpa that served traditional, home-made Nepali and Tibetan dishesmouth-watering, to say the least.
The city is a tourist’s heaven lapping out plenty to see, hear, touch, feel and taste. The tradition of open-air markets boasting bargains and collectibles is a welcome lure. Colourful, lively and chirpy, most markets take on the name of the street it stands on. Albert Cuypamarkt is Amsterdam’s most prominent fleet of market stalls where even an amateur market-goer will find bargain chinaware. It is closely followed by Waterlooplein’s popular flea market selling second-hand leather, mis-owned Joop perfumes, Indonesian shadow puppets, limited editions books, 60’s vinyl and much else. The Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower affair and apparently the only one of its kind in the world, sells blooms of a hundred-fold variety. On a good day, a fresh bunch of 50 gorgeous tulips could be bought for just 5 euros. The Antiekmarkt de Looier down Elandsgracht is a morning thing with gems, silverware, antique furniture, Dutch pottery and paintings brimming out of pockets of make-shift stands. Where do I stop?
To be contd.
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A person has to eat