Sunday, March 18, 2012


Amsterdam is possibly the most-hyped European city of all to a young traveller, but hyped, generally speaking, in only one way; the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll way. Now, I have nothing against sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll as a selling point, don't misunderstand me. But sometimes one hopes for a bit more than just a party.' 'Just' a party?! It's the biggest party around' I hear many people say. Well, sometimes a party isn't what you're looking for. Or at least not that sort of a party. So, what was there to get from a trip to Amsterdam in early March if you're not looking for a party? Well, this is what we got up to:

A cocktail cruise on the canals- a nice way to acquaint yourself with the canals which the city is so famous for, and get a sense of direction and scale of the city. And consume a couple of tasty cocktails while feeling slightly under-dressed and not couple-y enough. It's okay, I'm down with not being dressed up enough. My rebellious streak revels in it secretly. Plus we spent half our time in Amsterdam sleeping or showering/bathing/getting dressed and ready to leave the hotel, it was already taking up a disproportionately large chunk of time.

Flower markets! Our hotel was just around the corner from the flower market, so we had to stop by. Even though neither of us are really the green-fingered type, we are female and susceptible to the power of pretty smelly things. I did so want to buy some flowers, there were so many, but of course there was nowhere to take them home to really. Taking them back to a hotel room would be... well possible I suppose, but where would they go? And we would only get to enjoy them for a few days. Although that might still have been worth it. They were so pretty! And so many... so many flowers.

Anne Frank house was interesting, although so crowded by tourists that it seriously detracted from the experience. It would have been more interesting to see it with just a couple of people, as it would have been when it was actually being used as the secret annexe. It was pretty well done, but, as I said, too crowded. They need to limit (or seriously revise the current limit) the number of people in there at one time. It just felt like another tourist trap. Which is a pity, as it is a lovely surviving piece of history, which really brings WWII into focus for the younger generations.

The Van Gogh museum was interesting. I've never been to a museum which is primarily dedicated to one artist before, and it did work rather well. I particularly appreciated the area dedicated to artists he was influenced by and working with- Monet and other European impressionists and other such movements. I did gain incredible respect for his brother- what ace art dealer! He certainly knew what he was doing! They had some amazing works, it was pretty awesome to get to see them up close. They really are better in real life! We had a few lovely hours wandering around gaping at some of the most famous works in the history of art, which is pretty inspiring. I wish they had been open later!

As of course we weren't permitted to take pictures inside of the museum, here is a picture of some more modern art of which pictures may be taken freely, I believe. We did find one bit of the city where there was a lot of seriously neat graffiti (the 'street art' variety, rather than the out-and-out vandalism which NZ tends to provide) which was interesting. We found the same thing in Prague too, it is an interesting phenomena, how you actually get graffiti with a message. Lennon Wall was an excellent example, but it was found throughout the city.

We spent considerable time avoiding bicycles in Amsterdam. It seems that they have taken a new stance on promoting cycling as a mode of transport- the roads are for cars and bikes, and the pavements are for people and bikes. Bikes have right of way. Always. On both. And don't you dare to assuming otherwise, or you will find yourself in a canal before you know what has happened.

I rather liked the areas where there weren't any pavements at all. Road, right up to the canal. What pedestrians?! What are you talking about? Oh you mean that thing that just fell into the canal when I drove by? Car-less driver, really ought to be more careful you know.

S2 unfortunately was forced to abandon me in order to return to work shortly after our time gaping at the the Van Gogh pictures, and from there on in I was solo, which, I must admit, isn't really the way to see Amsterdam. Although I did discover that I have my very own lingerie store (Fridays only, sorry). Pictures to follow, I promise! But we did manage to get a self-portrait together over one of the canals before she disappeared. Another for the collection!

Left to my own devices, I resorted to the company of my camera, and took this picture looking down a canal somewhere near the museum district. I love the look of Amsterdam, all the canals with these big willows draped on the edges, boats floating along. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, but there are some really amazing house-boats in Amsterdam! They're really quite incredible, they look like they are just normal houses inside, which just so happen to be floating in a canal. I want to go on one!

It would be neat if they made more use of these floating spaces. The cocktail cruise was fun, but imagine if it was a bar that was anchored, but floating? Or a restaurant? Then you could have enjoyed a whole evening on it. And fallen over when you got off, entirely unable to stand up. I totally would've gone for that. I wanted to stay in a Botel (hehehe) but I couldn't find a decent-looking one, and then lastminute provided a decent hotel at a pretty good price, so we settled for that.

Overall I did like Amsterdam, but I feel like I didn't quite get into it somehow. Above all else, Amsterdam seemed to specialise in really neat pubs; old, dark, dusty little spaces that you weren't entirely sure were open until you got inside and discovered it (very secretly) contained an entire community within. And good beer. Good beer was easily located pretty much anywhere, which was nice. Definitely won points for beer. In fact, I shall provide a whole separate post on our beer/pub escapades, once I have completed the now traditional photo exchange with S2. I was a bit lazy with my camera this trip, so she has a lot more photos than I do.

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