Thursday, August 4, 2016

Amsterdam, Day 2 - Museums!

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I'm saying "day two", but it really felt like the first day...since the day before was arrival day, I had been seriously jet-lagged and sleep-deprived and was pretty much a walking zombie by the end of the day! We slept almost 12 hours (remember, we'd only gotten two hours sleep the night before on the plane) and awoke still fairly early. The weather forecast was for some rain, so we decided this would be our museum day. Although we were up at a reasonable time, there was a snafu with the streetcar we boarded (they changed the route, and of course, not speaking Dutch, we did not understand the announcement on board), so our 20 minute trip turned into an hour and a half. That's OK, we met some lovely Canadian girls, so we had friends to slog through the rain with while we were lost. =)

Eventually, we made it to our first destination: The Van Gogh Museum.
You can see that the sun came out as soon as we were no longer wandering around trying to find the proper streetcar stop!

Sadly, I still don't know how to properly pronounce "Van Gogh"..."Van Go"? "Van Ho"? "Van Goff"? I never heard a native say it and I forgot to ask! Guess I'll just have to go back. ;) No pictures are allowed in the museum, except in the atrium:
They have a nice projection screen up that scrolls through a few pieces of his art for selfies.
Of course, I had to pick the one in my favorite color and that was a decal on my last Kindle Fire (and hotel room decor in LA).

An aside about my hair: I'm not just sporting the "drowned rat" look due to all the rain. My hair is naturally curly (I know some of you are surprised!)...I usually straighten it. But we completely forgot our voltage converter, and apparently they don't work that well with flat irons, anyway (hotel hair dryers don't cut it for straightening my hair!). The recommendation is to just buy a flat iron with the proper voltage in Europe, but we were never near a store that sold them during the day!

The next museum we visited was the Rijks Museum. You can see the clouds found us again. =)
The "I amsterdam" letters are a brilliant marketing campaign; when it's not wet out, you see people all over and on top of these letters!

This beautiful museum holds paintings by Dutch masters and some gorgeous decorative arts.
The inside looks a little more modern. =)

Since our streetcar detour gave us a late start to the day, it was well past lunch time by the time we arrived. One thing I love about museums in Europe is that almost all of them have fantastic cafes!
Look at my delicious smoked salmon with avocado, pomegranate seeds and horseradish mousse! I am always a little iffy with smoked salmon here (it can be pretty fishy-tasting if it's not fresh), but this was delicious.

Here are just a few highlights from the museum....

Group portraits like this of city militia were common. This one is life-sized; look at all the fancy clothes!!

Love the dynamic motion of this swan! He's about 3 feet (1 meter) tall.

The Rijks has a few Vermeer paintings (if you're not familiar, "Girl with the Pearl Earring" is one of his, though this one, "The Milkmaid", is more typical of his work):
His use of light makes him one of the best. I was highly amused that the museum gift shop had a Playmobil set of this painting, although I could not convince Michael to buy it!

The interior of the museum itself is also very inspiring. This is the hall that had the swan and Vermeer:

And the next hall...
Detail of one of the walls...

I won't bore you with all the pictures of the decorative arts portion of the museum, but get a load of this porcelain!!

When we left the museum, it was time for a snack. We were so hungry, we picked the very first little cafe we saw outside the museum, where we had THE BEST WAFFLE EVER.
It was crisp and carmelized on the outside and creamy (but not "eggy") on the inside. I'm been to Belgium and had waffles there, but THIS WAS BETTER. We looked around us in pity at the suckers who were having ice cream instead. =)

Things were closed by this time, so we wandered more picturesque streets and canals. This is a smaller canal than the one we were staying on, so there were small boats rather than all the houseboats.

Shop cat! We saw several shop cats while window shopping. I mean, if you are going to have a giant store full of mouse bait, you need a shop cat, right??
It is a lot of fun to go into the many cheese shops and just sample all the delicious cheeses!

Detail of some row houses:

Another canal shot:

Our hotel recommended a restaurant nearby that served typical Dutch food, so that is where we went.

Everyone we met in Amsterdam spoke English; most spoke it very well. Here our waitress was a delightfully saucy woman from a Dutch island near Venezuela (I think it was Bonaire?) I had to ask where she was from, since it was clear she was not speaking Dutch-accented English, and I am very nosy. ;) I later heard her speaking Spanish to a nearby table. Imagine being fluent in three languages!!

We split a delicious meat stew covered with potatoes for dinner (think a very saucy shepherd's pie). Since we couldn't decide on an appetizer, we were happy to see they had a sampler!

My motto with food is, "I will try anything once!" (Actually, there are a few things I would never anything with brains!! But for the most part, I will try at least one bite of pretty much anything that the locals eat.) Most of this was pretty "normal": goat cheese with balsamic vinegar, potato fritter, fish stick, potato salad, smoked salmon. In the middle there, though, was mustard eel soup. I know, I know, but it was actually really good! I do like unagi sushi (the eel is cooked), so I thought it wouldn't be bad.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for another good night's sleep (no street festival that night, thankfully!!) Day three will find us flying to Copenhagen!

Rainy days are great for museums!


Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

What wonderful photos!
Here's a link about Van Gogh's pronunciation-
It's a tricky one!
I would also say that most mainland Europeans speak at least two or three languages fluently. We Brits are the worst, we are so lazy. When I was in Greece my friend spoke Albanian, Greek, Italian, Russian and English! In that order of fluency.

Bea said...

Love your photos. I'm a museum fan as well and both of these look fascinating. The food looks delicious and I'm with you - try it, some of the most surprising things are SO tasty.

Heather said...

Great pictures! Thanks for bringing us on the trip with you :)

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