When we arrived we were told that they didn't allow cell phones in the building (because they could be bombs, I guess). Josh had forgotten about this little detail. But seriously, who travels somewhere without a cell phone? So we had to figure out where to put them... Hide them under a rock in the park? Too risky.
Luckily another person with the same predicament told us about an office across the street that would hold them for us as long as we attached our names to them. It sounded too good to be true, but it was quite a lucky brush with Dutch hospitality!
After all of the important Consulate business was over, we walked around the city a bit... I wasn't in the best mood because I was tired and hungry. Luckily Josh is the most patient person ever. Here are some photos from the day:
This sweet kitty was sitting in front of a bakery. So affectionate!
We stumbled upon an amazing food shop called STACH. I wanted to buy everything in there. Josh ordered a meatball broodje (sandwich) with mustard mayonnaise and rocket, and I had the buffalo mozzarella broodje with tomato tapenade and basil oil. Freaking awesome! We shared a lemonade and sat outside the shop and talked to a woman visiting from Austria. The nice thing about speaking English is that others hear you speaking it and will talk to you :)
After lunch I was in a much better mood, and Josh and I continued to walk around, sticking to the quieter side streets. We stopped at a big music shop called Concerto that also had a coffee shop... It felt very much like Seattle. We sat and had some good coffee.
Then we caught a tram to the central station to catch a train back home... But first we stopped at the Openbare Bibliotheek, Amsterdam's central library, which is near the central station. Oh my gosh, it's amazing. When you walk in, there is a piano for people to play... at one point a guy was playing "When You Wish Upon a Star." And there's a huge textile installation on a wall, and while we were there someone was weaving on it. There are a lot of modern design details, and the book, film, and music collections are very impressive (most importantly). There are windows facing the big canal, so you can grab a seat and have a lovely place to read.
But the children's section was my favorite. So many fanciful aspects, like a giant polar bear, and big funny bird, a teepee to read in, and a spiral staircase leading up to a secluded reading spot. I am jealous of the kids that use it, that's for sure. They also had this display called "Het Muizenhuis" or "The Mouse Mansion." It's an elaborate doll house of sorts. The dolls are mice. And they have rooms upon rooms with the most intricate details. The creator used it for a children's book series. I could have looked at it all day.
So that was my first day in Amsterdam... The first of many, to be sure.