Of all the cities on our itinerary, this was the one I was most looking forward to. I had heard so many stories for so many years…I thought for sure these last few days of our trip would be the most rewarding.
Funny how expectations can be so elusive.
Don’t get me wrong–Amsterdam is a fabulous city. My hotel booking snafu turned into a great Air BnB find (a houseboat!). While we didn’t do much museum or church hopping in the other cities, I was determined to see both the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijks Museum and they were both outstanding. But, after four relatively smallish cities (not sure if Brussels qualifies as small, but it felt smaller than Amsterdam), this city left me a bit shell-shocked. I couldn’t quite get the hang of dodging mopeds in the bike lanes (really, what is up with that? It seems really, really wrong), and there were soooooo many people. Everywhere.
First, our digs. Air BnB turned out wonderfully. The houseboat was just as described, and quite convenient (just slightly beyond the Anne Frank Museum). I really appreciated that it was slightly beyond the canal rings, as it was very, very peaceful and quiet. We even had a rooster for a neighbor, but as his coop was in the shade, he never crowed before 9am.
Our first full day in the city we explored all those wonderful, narrow, meandering streets. We found this great shop, Droog, which was right up my alley:
Day two was museum day. I gotta tell you, looking at art just never gets old. Pictures in magazines and text books don’t even begin to do it justice. Both the Rijks Museum and Van Gogh were incredibly busy with enormous crowds, but I still felt as though I could take my time in front of each piece and just soak it up.
What I loved at the Rijks Museum were the displays of cultural artifacts. The dollhouses were exquisite (and not toys, I learned, but rather for the women of the household to display). I also LOVED a display of whalers’ caps, and it was noted that the caps were found on a sunken vessel, still attached to the skeletons’ heads (ok, a bit gruesome), and that it was by the colorwork on the cap that whalers could be identified. I was also pleased to learn that Van Gogh used yarn for his color inspiration.
We capped off our stay with a great Algerian meal our last night.
Of course, nothing I do ever ends without any drama, and our return trip was full of it, ranging from my tripping UP the steps of the houseboat (taking out both my knees in the process), getting hit by a people mover at Schiphol (apparently those cars don’t have brakes, or maybe the drivers just don’t like to use them), being questioned at length by immigration on our marital status, and then even more of the same by security at the gate before boarding (are we that unusual or suspicious a couple?).
Anyways, all’s well that ends well, and this trip certainly both started and ended well.