Amsterdam, When Lights Were Low

This time of year in suburban Philadelphia USA, where I reside, the Sun sets around 8:30 PM and the sky begins to grow meaningfully dark half an hour later. A few weeks ago, though, during my wife Sandy’s and my trip to Paris and Amsterdam, the lighting was different. (If you click right here and right here, the previous two articles about our trip will appear). There, sunset happened circa 10:00 PM and darkness started its descent about thirty minutes after that. It wasn’t till 10:45 or so that you’d say nighttime truly had arrived. These were phenomena that took Sandy and me a little by surprise. We sure weren’t used to them. But we liked them.

Now, Amsterdam is a beautiful place in daylight, as is Paris, natch. Those canals; those old, quaint brick houses; those cute houseboats parked here and there on the waters; those many streets no wider than alleys. Man, investigating and gawking at all of this in full light was the best. But — and I’m not exactly issuing a news flash here — things looked different when the effects of our friend the Sun started to fade. Different isn’t always better, yet often it is equally good. And that was the case with Amsterdam during late evening hours.

Maybe we were under the spell of the delayed darkness, I don’t know, but in Amsterdam we found ourselves starting the evening repasts much later than at home. Most evenings we didn’t begin to eat until 8:30 or later. By the time we concluded restaurant business and moseyed out onto the streets, sunlight was approaching the low end of its dial or was gone. And that’s when our evening entertainment, nighttime walks, began. It also was when the canals put on their more formal clothes.

IMG_1465IMG_1466One night, after a dinner in the western part of town that ended at 10:15, we wandered for ten minutes in search of the still-existing house (now the Rembrandt House Museum) where Rembrandt van Rijn lived during much of the 1600s. Eventually we found it. The famed artist lived near the Zwanenburgwaal, a handsome canal. I imagine that the area looks pretty much as it did in Rembrandt’s time. And, no question, it startles at night. There was a fair but quickly fading amount of light in the skies as we strolled around Zwanenbuegwaal and other nearby waterways. The canal waters glimmered, the electric lights from within houses glowed mightily. And we were amazed by a scene that was almost too good to be true, the Moon early in its rise above an assemblage of rooftops and gables. I don’t know if Rembrandt ever painted a waterscape like that, but if he didn’t he should have.

IMG_1478IMG_1480Another post-dinner trek, along a couple of canals not far from our hotel in central Amsterdam, also was gold. This time our walk started under skies that were fully dark. Not too many people were around. And it was quiet. These were conditions that collectively, in a major city, you don’t often run into. I tell you, the vistas were something else. Reflections from house lights in the canal waters looked like cascades of glitter. And the small bridges crossing the canals were lit along their sides like yuletide shrubbery. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Amsterdam is a place where I’d be happy and content as a clam to live.

 

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But it wasn’t only late night outdoors views in Amsterdam that nabbed my attention. Things sometimes got awfully atmospheric indoors too during advanced hours. Usually in restaurants. Our first night in the city, for instance, we had dinner in the middle of town at the cozy Corner House, which serves up some traditional Dutch fare. We had arrived in Amsterdam from Paris with our friends Martine and Alan, and they were at the eatery with us. We all settled in comfortably on that rainy night, soaking up Corner House’s low wattage vibes. The subdued lighting gave the place a charm and magnetism that probably it didn’t have at lunchtime. And after dinner we stepped outside into streets hundreds of years old where, electric lights illuminating the dimness only gingerly, mystery and intrigue cast bigtime spells.

IMG_0787And talking about vibes . . . they don’t come much better than those you get, as midnight approaches, within In De Wildeman. It’s a tavern in a semi-ancient building, and prides itself on its wide selection of beers. A craft beer geek, I went there several times to drink suds from Dutch breweries not named Heineken and Amstel. There are a decent number of them, though most Amsterdam establishments don’t carry them. More’s the pity. In any event, Sandy and I popped into evocatively-lit In De Wildeman, down the block from our hotel, very late on a Wednesday night. The next morning we would fly home, and I wanted to down one last Dutch microbrew before bidding the Netherlands adieu. I did. Sort of. It was a pale ale brewed exclusively for In De Wildeman by The Wild Beer Company. It was delicious. Turns out, though, that Wild Beer’s brewery is located in England, not the Netherlands. Oh well, close enough.

(Don’t be shy about adding your comments, or about sharing this article with others)

(Photos by Sandra Cherrey Scheinin. If you click on any photo, a larger image will open)

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17 thoughts on “Amsterdam, When Lights Were Low

  1. tengel265 July 13, 2016 / 9:50 am

    Love those 2 cities, and the light does feel different that far north.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger July 13, 2016 / 11:46 am

      I’ve been back home for a few weeks, and I’m still thinking about Amsterdam.

      Like

  2. greenpete58 July 13, 2016 / 9:32 pm

    All that talk of good beer got me thirsty. And the great photos have me drooling. I’m booking a flight to A-Dam before I collapse. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joyce July 14, 2016 / 8:04 am

    Great review! Makes me want to go back again!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cynthia Raff July 14, 2016 / 2:53 pm

    I am taking this blog with me the next time I go to Amstersdam. The city is truly magical, especially at night, but your description of it, in all its glittery glory, is exquisite! The pictures are nice, but the words are even better. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger July 16, 2016 / 7:38 am

      Credit goes to my wife (Sandra) — she took the pictures. I’ll let her know that you like them. Thanks.

      Like

  5. Brian Lageose July 16, 2016 / 12:12 am

    I hope you realize that you are pushing me ever closer toward a relocation to Amsterdam, as we’ve briefly discussed previously. So when I finally hit the button and make it a reality, I’m going to explain to my confused family that “Neil convinced me”, which may result in some rather accusatory emails hitting your inbox… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth M. Soltan July 20, 2016 / 11:50 am

    Enjoyed both the photos and the writing in this review of night-time Amsterdam. i especially liked the image that the canals put on their “more formal clothes” at night.

    Liked by 1 person

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