A new adventure awaits on every trip. But that doesn’t mean you never revisit the places you visited on prior travels. Of course, your time might not be the same. New memories await. And even if the place hasn’t changed – I learned you have.
A recent trip to Amsterdam, my third, included both a few new attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Heineken Experience and a return to an old favorite spot. Both new attractions, very popular spots, I certainly enjoyed. Yet I learned long ago a city is more than its tourist attractions.
To me, exploring a city is walking the streets and finding that cafe for a coffee or finding that special restaurant for that special culinary creation. And sometimes it is just about finding a place to sit down and enjoy conversation with new friends, loved ones, locals or perhaps even just for some good alone time. From my past travels to Amsterdam, one such place where I enjoyed such moments was the “Hill Street Blues Cafe-Bar”
I first stumbled upon the cafe on my virgin trip to the canal city. That was 12 years ago and in a different era for travel. A time when the internet was not mainstream (not sure when Al Gore invented it) and at a time when GPS or Google maps didn’t tell us how not to get lost. And frankly, a time I am glad to have known and traveled in. So for nostalgia, I decided to let memories serve as both my guide and directions and not my iPhone on my quest to find the Cafe and Coffee Shop.
A left, than a right, guesses maybe, intuition more likely, I noticed the illuminated Union Jack and American flag. I arrived to the The Hill Street Blues Cafe-Bar and could not hide my smile.
Certainly, better cafes exist in Amsterdam, but this place holds my memories. It was a time in my life when I traveled with two other Americans and fellow fraternity brothers. As recent college graduates armed with money from our corporate jobs we traveled Europe, celebrated freedoms and planned to travel the rest of the world if not attempt to conquer it.
I entered. The time warp began. I imagined my friends at the table as a wave of emotion overcame me. Wow, twelves years flashed before me. The good, the bad and the beautiful.
I then wondered, did I accomplish anything I talked about inside these four walls?
Eventually, I realized I did and realized how much I changed in those 12 years even as the placed looked the same. We all had.
So, my first thought, why not sit down open my journal and write down some ideas for the next 12 years. But, no that didn’t feel right.
Then it hit me. I wrote thanks. Thanks for twelve great years, thanks for the many adventures, and thanks for the opportunity to see Amsterdam both then and now.
Stay adventurous, Craig