FRIDAY: Eurostar whisks us away to Amsterdam on a Thalys train. I am old, tired and sag like a wilted tulip. My fellow travelers (all women) seem younger, spry and as energetic as windmills. Our train is punctual and pleasant. We check in at the spectacular hotel De l’Europe, where a vivid replica of a painting by one of the Dutch Masters can be found in every guest’s suite. I am happy to hang out here with Rembrandt and Vermeer.
If you prefer original over faux, the Rijksmuseum is the place to be. Queen Beatrix herself presided over the great museum’s grand reopening in April 2013 after a painstaking, super-expensive renovation that took 10 years. A work of art on a plate is created later by the Michelin-starred Bord’Eau restaurant’s chef, Richard van Oostenbrugge, in our hotel’s private dining room. I will savor his saddle of lamb with salty asparagus for quite a while.
Going for an after-dinner boat ride on a canal beats an evening stroll. The hotel’s managing director, Tom Krooswijk, comes aboard with us. When you have the pleasure of being accompanied by someone who’s been in business from Moscow to Vienna to Cannes and beyond, needless to say, you get to hear some great stories. We have a nightcap in Freddy’s Bar (named for beer baron Freddy Heineken) along with the hotel’s Lizette Hassell, Lisette de Koning and Marie Julie Craeymeersch, which was a great way to cap a good night for me. Goedenacht and dank u, ladies. Amsterdam, you show a guy a good time.
SATURDAY: So ends my tale of three cities. A whirlwind five-day getaway. Mission accomplished. I come home exhausted but invigorated and stimulated. Am hard at work on a guidebook now: How I Saw Europe in a Hurry. I want to go back.
Moneypenny, get me Eurostar.
MIKE DOWNEY is a former Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune columnist and a contributing writer to American Way.