Monday, June 18, 2007
Drew and I took a 10pm bus from La Defense to Amsterdam. We arrived at 6 AM at Amstel Station on the edge of town. From there, we hit the ground running. We walked to our hotel, were somehow able to check in at 7 am, and went touring from there. Amsterdam is a lovely town at 8 am when not many people are out and about. The canals really romanticize and otherwise dirty city.
We started with the Anne Frank House because we were warned there are always lines...and of course as we walk up we get stuck behind an annoying group of (gasp) American tourists. Oh lord, there was this one mother that annoyed the junk out of me...makes me not want to have kids just so I couldn't possibly end up like that! Anyway...the AFH was incredible. Not awesome incredible like the chateaux of last week, but moving incredible. The rooms didn't feel that small but I guess after being stuck in them with 7 other people and not being able to move during the day, it'd get claustrophobic. They had lots of documents and items in each room and you could see on the wall where they marked Anne and Margot's heights as they grew. Each room had quotes from the diary too. It was just incredible. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go.
From there, Drew and I wandered to the Dam...the square with the Royal Palace and a national monument. At the time, there was a field set up for a soccer game. We saw a line for Madame Tussauds but I don't understand why people would pay money to see wax! We somehow found ourselves in the Red Light District trying to find Old Church. After a couple of embarrassing side streets, we found the church which was beautiful. It is the earliest parish church of Amsterdam. We wandered a couple of blocks over to de Waag, apparently the oldest building in Amsterdam and now a restaurant.
Exhausted, we figured out how to take the metro and headed towards Rembrandtplein... Rembrandt's Square. With a cool statue of Rembrandt and a 3D version of his famous "Night Watch" this was by far my favorite 'plein.' We decided for a bit of culture after that and went to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. In my photos, the Rijksmuseum is huge but they are obviously renovating so only 200 works are available to the public right now. I saw some gorgeous Vermeers (but my favorite is at The Hague) and Rembrandts. Van Gogh was a great museum just in the way it was organized. Each room represented a part of his life and explained where he was (he lived all over the Netherlands and France) and what was influencing his work. I really appreciated those aspects of the visit. The most famous pieces I recognized there were 'Sunflowers' and 'The Bedroom.'
Wandering around again, we came across a cute restaurant that we made reservations for hoping to fit in the Heineken Experience before the time. Of course, as we walked up to the H-E we saw 3 tour buses outside so we decided to do a canal tour instead, which was good because it started to rain. I'm glad we got to do a canal tour because we were able to cover so much more ground.
After dinner (yum), we just walked around taking in the sites. By nightfall, which isn't until 9, we were ready to head back to the hotel. Amsterdam is a gorgeous city. The canals and architecture are amazing. I'm so glad I finally got to come, but I admit, this isn't a city I'll feel the need to come back to.