A three night stay in one of Europe’s finest cities, what can be bad about that? The overnight storms have now passed, washing away the searing heat of the last few days to leave cool and sunny conditions, my perverse obsession with weather temporarily satisfied by the change.
It is a complete coincidence that the 3 St. Andrew’s Crosses on Amsterdam’s 500-year-old coat of arms are also similar to the modern-day shorthand for x-rated entertainment. Of course, this coincidence is also widely utilised via the producers of gimmicky city souvenirs, but it’s a world away from the historic truth. As such, the ‘XXX’ symbol can be seen all over the city – on flags, buildings, manhole covers and even on the poles that stop cars from driving on the pavement (known locally as Amsterdammertjes).
Our first stay at the (potentially) luxurious Waldorf Astoria finds us in the heart of the city, surrounded by fine restaurants, fun stores and coffee shops. After a brief sortie in the gym, sound check was upon us once more and further exploration into the wonderful world of in-ear monitoring as our new custom-fit buds are bedded in. The fit is so good that the change is not easy to deal with. When the fit is tight, the low end is greatly enhanced along with that ‘cut off from the world’ feeling. The benefits FAR outweigh the negatives so persistence is king. After the ‘wallowy’ experience with the Sportpalais in Antwerp, we were all looking forward to soundcheck and show at the fabulous Ziggo Dome as this venue is probably the finest in terms of overall sound and design. The facilities are perfect or the touring band with huge load-in bays, excellent dressing room areas, efficient and spacious catering areas, knowledgable staff serving a great arena which caters for just over 12,000 people in comfort.
The audience for our final concert with both Ruth and Nigel didn’t disappoint and we said our fond farewells to our special guests for this tour although Nigel will be rejoining us in Munich for the rest of the European leg and the whole of the US tour.
After the show, the hotel kindly laid on drinks and food in a private room next to the glorious bar. This was by way of recompense for a few hotel misdemeanours upon check in and other unmentionable peccadillos.
The next thing we knew, it was a day off in Amsterdam! The images tell only a part of the story.
On our 15km afternoon wander around this lovely city on a glorious Sunday afternoon, Laurie and I came across a beer tasting in a bar which already offered over 40 local beers on tap. Once a year, some of the locals get together and show off their home brewing skills. Four lovely gentlemen offered tastings of 3 or 4 beers each. Every one was delicious in its own right. Such brews as ‘Smokey Chilli’ and ‘Bucket full of Tears’ were on offer. One of the beers was brewed with Honey and Lemon and was truly spectacular. Young brew-stars in the making?