Could it be true? One more day of warm, golden sunshine? Walking to the bus stop, we’re hopeful, in our summer-to-autumn layers. It’s an early start to get to Rembrandtplein in time for Marcel to see the kick-off (France vs New Zealand, RWC 2011).

With Karen and Taryn visiting from Newcastle, we grab our chance to finally catch the “safari train”. Passing through the Oostvaardersplassen, we spot as many Red Deer, Heck Cows and Konik Horses as possible. The train journey is as cool as I hoped it would be.

Amsterdam is magic when it hasn’t woken up yet; surprisingly peaceful. We buy 24-hr GVB tickets and then catch tram #9. Marcel settles himself in at the Atlanta bar. We opt for cappuccinos on the terrace with Simon.

One of my favourite cities in the world

We make use of our 2-hour window to visit the famous flower market around the corner, past a few canals. Along with the expected souvenir tat, you can buy your next season’s tulip bulbs and other exotic plants. What still puzzles me, is how on earth are you supposed to get your newly-acquired cannabis seeds through customs on your way home?!?

There’s a row of shops opposite the market, and one of them catches our eye with a hysterical Land Rover sculpture. The details are fab, especially the lady’s face. If only it were smaller and didn’t cost € 399, it would be Marcel’s.

After the game, we meet up with Marcel at the Rokin and start walking through the suburbs. People saunter from hotels, trains and trams. Hot, sunny terraces are quickly snapped up. We happily consume our obligatory croquettes and “patatje oorlog” (Belgian fries with a “war” sauce consisting of peanut sauce, mayonnaise and diced onions). By the time we reach Leidseplein, we’re positively knackered. Sitting there, enjoying a cold one and the vibe, we finally get what makes this square so popular. The afternoon slips by comfortably.

We decide on a canal cruise anyway. Why not? I know we were trying to keep the costs down, but it’s such a gorgeous day! The tickets are sold out at Museumplein, so we tram up to Central station. Phew. There are still some tickets left.

What a lovely time of the day to be on the water! 1,5 hours of sparkling water, intricate canals, enjoying the sights and sounds of this world-famous city, and being bemused by the skew, skinny Dutch houses.

Once back at the hectic station, we bid Simon farewell, and catch the next train back to Lelystad. We are luckier this time, as more wildlife is closer to the track. We catch a kamikaze bus ride back home (some of the bus drivers are maniacal!) and enjoy the peace and quiet, with sundowners and a bbq on our own private terrace, of course. Bring on autumn!