Sorry about the two month absence, guys (and by “guys” I mean “three people who actually read this”). Writing a blog is a lot of work, and sometimes I feel like I need a break. I recently started a new full time job, and being back in the corporate world has forced me to spend large chunks of free time relearning grammar and vocabulary (allegedly “calendar” and “impact” are now verbs, but “ask” is a noun. I digress). I have also been opting for studying French instead of spending hours of my free time writing a blog that only my mom might read. This allows me to speak entire sentences before the locals get impatient and speak back to me in English.
In any case, my partner spent around two months in July and August away from home, and part of that time he was in Amsterdam. So we opted to spend some time there. Again. I didn’t mind at all. Word to any friends or family who want to visit: I never mind visiting this city. I find something new about it to enjoy every time I’m there, so I will never tire of it. So if you want to put it on your list of must-see cities when you visit (and you must, or I shall be very cross), I will not mind. Here are the highlights:
*The Stedelijk Museum is centrally located and offers an impressive collection of modern art and design. The collection is eclectic enough to interest anyone even slightly fascinated by art, so there should be something for anyone here. If paintings aren’t your thing, you can check out the sculpture, interior design/furniture, photography, film/video, or the varied interactive displays. I would probably recommend the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijkmuseum if it is your first visit to Amsterdam and you are pressed for time, but Stedelijk is definitely worth a go if you’re a returning guest. Plus, there is the slightly cheesy but fun House of Bols Genever Museum (boozers will know what that means) within a short walking distance if you want to get into the festive mood first. Or immediately after. Whichever. Here are some paintings I enjoyed. Furniture bores me, and I have a problem taking photos of other photos. It’s weird and I think we all know it. So it’s paintings only here.
*As stated above, the House of Bols Genever Museum was not far from the museum. I like a mixture of classy and cheesy (see how I’m snobby about food and books but love bad dance music and Doctor Who), so this made my day. Also, museums that end with drinks are never bad. This one is not for kids (unless you’re one of those creepy parents who takes your kids along when you go drinking), but it is definitely fun. And fast.
Anyway, Lucas Bols was founded in Amsterdam in 1575, and has proclaimed itself the oldest distillery brand in the world. They produce a wide variety of booze, but their most well known is Bols Genever. Genever is the juniper berry flavored liquor from which gin eventually evolved, and is widely imbibed in The Netherlands and Belgium. The museum provides a fun overview of the company’s history, a hands-on display demonstrating how the drink is made (if you enjoy sticking your hands into a pale of various substances where other people have put their hands), a chance to sample the smells of their brand’s different flavors, and–finally–a chance to design your own cocktail based on your own personal tastes. The tasting part included a sample of two different flavors of genever, and the self-designed cocktail. Go before dinner and get a bit sloshy. It’s fun, I swear.
*I am a little ashamed to admit that it took me three visits to Amsterdam before experiencing one of my favorite attractions: Rembrandhuis (The Rembrandt House). This is the house where Rembrandt lived from 1639 until 1656, when he unfortunately went bankrupt. I don’t have anything smartass to say about this one. Just check it out if you get the chance.
*The Amsterdam Museum has potential. A mixture of historical artifacts and art, there is definitely a lot to experience. It just isn’t put together very well. For one thing, skip the audio guide. The traditional audio guide they give you (a device worn around the neck like at most other museums) interferes with the flow of the displays, which already have listening stations with earpieces. Trying to coordinate the handheld guide with the posted listening points will ruin the experience, trust me. But don’t sell the place short. There is some great stuff here, if not just for the building alone (a 16th Century orphanage). Many original items from the old orphanage are here, as well as art and historical items dating back to the Middle Ages.
*The Royal Palace is hard to miss; it is just down Oudezijds Voorburgwal (isn’t Dutch fun?)–a main stretch of road reaching out from the central train station. The street is full of fun tourist traps (including a sex museum) and disgusting restaurants (there are many, many fine restaurants in this city–but they ain’t here). Make a right at the end of the street and you’re in front of the palace. It’s spectactular. Enjoy!
PS: I took roughly 900 photos of the interior of this palace (most were multiple shots of the same thing from slightly different angles), but I’m also slightly retarded and didn’t photograph the exterior of the palace. Google it. I never claimed to be Rick Steves.
*As much as I enjoy the museums and other attractions, I must say I equally appreciate just being able to wander around these amazing cities. Amsterdam is among my favorites, and it can easily be enjoyed just strolling through the streets and parks (many of the below photos were taken in the enormous Vondelpark, which would make even homelessness palatable). So have a drink, some weed, or maybe a hooker, and walk around a bit. I have included a cat poster for your enjoyment as well as mine.