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A Day in Amsterdam

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Centraal Station - Amsterdam

ABOVE: Centraal Station, Amsterdam.

Amsterdam railroad stationThe train trip took us through a suburban landscape that included office buildings, apartment complexes, private houses, and an occasional mini-farm with sheep or horses. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at Centraal Station (see photos) and joined the crowd heading up the Damrak--a street lined with souvenir shops, travel agencies, pizza parlors, cafés, and other businesses catering to tourists.

If we hadn't been half-asleep from an overnight transatlantic flight, we might have bought tickets for the museum boat that circles the major canals every 30 minutes (45 minutes in winter) and allows stopovers at museums along the way.

Instead, we just wandered toward the Dam Square and eventually found ourselves at the Rembrandtplein, in the heart of the city's entertainment area. Nothing much was happening on a Saturday midday, but it was a pleasant spot for eating vlaamse frieten ("Flemish fries," a.k.a. French fries or chips) from a nearby vendor and taking shelter from the drizzle on the steps of a wooden bandshell.

Tip: In the Netherlands and Belgium, French fries are traditionally served with mayonnaise, although ketchup and other sauces are usually available. (Try the mayo--you may like it better than you think.)

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