Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reliving the trip - one week later

After we completed the RoadRUNNER 5 Country Tour, we headed to Amsterdam for a week on a bicycle/barge trip in the Netherlands. Peddling a bicycle for 7 days through the flat Dutch countryside is a whole lot different than riding on the back of a powerful BMW motorcycle through the towering Alps and Dolomites. You can read more about that trip here:

Eric and Catherine from the motorcycle trip were also in the Netherlands on a different bicycle/barge tour, so we made plans to meet in Amsterdam at the end of our trips to catch up on our adventures. We picked up right where we left off in Germany:  sharing stories, laughing, and talking about the next motorcycle trip we hope to make.

An evening in Amsterdam wouldn't be complete without going to a cafe and sampling the local beer, and this is where our final evening in Europe became truly amazing. It was crowded at our first stop, so we shared a table with a young couple. They turned out to be American expats living in Amsterdam for the past 3 years, very willing to share information about the city and their life. As they left, they told us about their favorite bar, a tiny spot just down the street, but off the typical tourist path.

Cafe de Dokter was founded in 1798 by a surgeon from the local hospital, hence the name. The 7th generation of the Beems family continues to operate it to this day. de Dokter claims to be the smallest bar in Amsterdam, and at 194 square feet, I have to believe them. We squeezed into a small table in the corner next to the back of the bar, and the fun - and magic - started. Henny suggested his favorite local beers for us to try. A woman born in Suriname but now living in Amsterdam told us about her sisters in Canada. An Amsterdam native who spoke perfect English told us stories about his travels and why he loves his city. Everyone in the bar started singing along to old Frank Sinatra tunes, surprising us that they knew the lyrics better than we.

Henny inside de Dokter

The old buildings in Amsterdam are notorious for their steep and narrow staircases, but the circular steel staircase at de Dokter has to be the scariest. It's the only way up to the bathroom on the 2nd floor, which means that we also had to come down that staircase with steps barely wide enough for half of my size 6 1/2 feet. Henny, the owner, gave us a postcard of his business and wrote out our bill on a prescription pad.

As we navigated the narrow, rainy, cobblestone streets back to our hotels, all 4 of us talked about the highlights of the motorcycle trip and the friendly, welcoming people we met this evening. Lasting friendships were definitely created, and we're looking forward to more unexpected and magical adventures in the future.

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