|August 6 & 7
We have hit the ground running in Amsterdam. Yesterday, we did some exploring and then (per Lorne’s recommendation) took a 4-hour bike tour of Amsterdam (Joy Ride Tours). Lorne thanks—it was excellent. We biked through all of the main areas and received all sorts on historical info and practical ideas. We received a tutorial on purchasing soft drugs and the Red Light District. (the oldest area in Amsterdam) The Dutch are a very liberal people.
I am a little hesitant about blogging about Amsterdam—Lorne spent some time here last year, so I am sure he will be checking my facts.
Going back to the liberal nature of Amsterdam, our guide pointed out the areas that were over ran by hippies in the 60s. Apparently, there were huge tent cities set up in certain areas as the North American hippies discovered Amsterdam—we saw where President Clinton camped and smoked (but did not inhale) marijuana.
We did not find cycling very difficult in Amsterdam (I guess it helps if you have 1700 kms under your belt). We were concerned that the Tour might be cancelled because it had rained hard all day, but when it was time to start, the sun came out. We had a great evening.
We finished the night with a Thai Dinner. I asked our guide as to what is the iconic Amsterdam food and she advised that Van Gogh nailed the Dutch Cuisine when he painted the “Potato Eaters”. What she advised was to find an Indonesian Restaurant—historically, it was a Dutch Colony and Amsterdam has many good Indonesian Restaurants.
This AM we were up early and had great breakfast and headed off to the Museum-Plein (Museum Place). It is a large park that has a number of museums that border it.
Our 1st Museum was the Rijks Museum. It was built in the late 1800's to house Netherlands Art Treasures created during Holland's Golden Ages. It is a beautiful building but unfortunately, only a portion is open since the majority is being renovated (removing asbestos). However, we did see many paintings with a number completed by Rembrandt. He is one of Netherlands most famous artists. I attached images of a couple of Rembrandts. The one of the Night Watch painted in 1642 will not do the painting justice—it may be Rembrandt’s most famous painting. It must have been 10’ X 16’. (Lorne is that correct?). It was commissioned by company of Amsterdam’s Civic Guards (an honorary group of big wigs) and people had to pay to be included in the Painting.
I also attached the painting “Destruction of Jerusalem” painted in 1630. Jeremiah is desponded after Jerusalem has been destroyed by the Babylonians. It was a very dramatic painting—it was so detailed, it looked like a photograph.
We then headed to the Van Gogh Museum. We followed a Rick Steve’s tip and purchased a Museum Pass—it allowed us to avoid an hour-long line up to get in the Museum. Inside, it was very busy which caused one of us to get her elbows up so she could close enough to see the painting. This Museum has 200 Van Gogh Paintings, 437 Drawings and hundreds of letters.
I have attached a few images of his paintings. It is interesting to watch people try and take pictures of this paintings (photography is not allowed) when it is very easy to simply download perfect images right into your IPhoto files.
He was a self-taught genius that slowly went mad and ultimately committed suicide at the age of 37.
We then left this Museum and moved on to a slightly lighter venue—we took a tour of the House of Boles—which Rick Steves' points out is self guided walk in a Boles Ad. I had to do it as research for Bruce, which is asking if there is a Dutch aperitif. Clearly the Bole’s Distillery, which is 400 years old, makes various liqueurs and makes Genever. This is a Gin like product—I tried it and clearly, it would take some time to develop a taste for this “spirit”.
This took us about 7 hours (not sure how many calories but we are plenty tired--we need the Scotts to help pace us) and we are regrouping before we head out for Dinner.
Al & Sue