Friday, November 18, 2016

European Odessy - Part 5: 2 Days in Amsterdam

~DAY 1~

We arrived in Amsterdam by train and immediately found the iAmsterdam office across the street from the train station.  If you've never been to Amsterdam before I strongly suggest getting an iAmsterdam card.  They include free or discounted entry into dozens of Amersterdam attractions, free public transportation on the GVB network, free canal cruise, restaurant discounts, and giveaways.  The cards are sold in blocks of time, 24, 48, 72, or 96 hours, and they come with a map to help you find your way around the city. 

Amy was fascinated with the canals and the houseboats.
After getting our cards we hopped a tram and found our lodgings.  We found a really cool room on  Loved the bedroom which came with 4 single beds, a sectional sofa, flat screen tv, fireplace, and blackout curtains.  Loved the HUGE American size/style kitchen. Loved that our host provided an assortment of breads, spreads, and fresh fruit for breakfast each morning.  Loved how close we were to Vondelpark and the Museum kwartier.  Did NOT love the exceptionally tiny water closet and shower closet.  Did NOT love our host drunkenly singing karaoke until 3am (boy does he love the American hits of the 70s).  And don't get me started on the plate of weird moldy pineapples sitting in the middle of the kitchen table.

The view from our room.
My bed.
We dumped our bags in our room and made a beeline for the museumplein.  We had a few hours left before closing time and decided to do the Van Gogh musem.  This museum is a must, who doesn't love Van Gogh?  Seriously, I don't trust people who don't love Van Gogh.  I loved it enough to leave my camera gear at home so I could simply enjoy it at my own pace with nothing between me and the art.

The orchestra was out of town but Amy did want a selfie in front of the Royal Concertgebouw.
Hanging out at the museumplein.
Selfie at the entrance to the Van Gogh museum.
After we explored all that the Van Gogh museum had to offer and closing time came, we meandered over to Cafe Loetje based on a Yelp! recommendation that S. found.  On our way we pass the American consulate and S. wanted to reenact the "I'm an AMERICAN!" scene from the movie The Saint.

I'm fairly certain this tomfoolery landed us on some sort of watch list.
Photo by S.
Amy finally found a street that had more cars than bicycles, she'd been looking for a while.
All of the food on trip was superb but Cafe Loetje was easily one of the most relaxed and delicious meals we had.  Some Americans like to complain about European service, but I love the laid back atmosphere and the fact that you don't have a waiter stopping by your table every 5 minutes trying to hustle you out the door.  We sat in a sort of glassed in biergarten area and the ambience was lovely, but the food...oh the food!

These baked goat cheese things with the sweet pickled onions, I don't know what they are called but I dream about them.
S. enjoying her Moroccan spiced steak.
Schnitzel done right.  Amy of course continued her frites binge.
By this point in the trip we had lost all notion of what day of the week it was.  Our daily worries from back home had disappeared and we just immersed ourselves in our surroundings.  Stress?  What stress?  We were in a beautiful big city that had a wonderful small town feel, replete with world class museums and superlative restaurants.  Strolling back to our room we passed by an ice rink and paused to watch the skaters.

Now there's a job I'd like to try, just for a day.
We put the "DAMN DANIEL!" in Amsterdam.

~DAY 2~

After some quality sleeping in we headed out and back to the museumplein.  On our way we noticed this art space.  Amy felt a strong kinship to the artist of the advertised exhibition and was sad that we had missed it.

We spent most of the morning meandering the galleries of the Rijksmuseum.  This is a mecca for aesthetes from all over the world.  I haven't been to this museum since before it was closed for renovations and so much had changed, but the art and artifacts were just as engaging as ever.

So many people were making a beeline for the Dutch Masters, and rightly so, but I took my time and slipped in and out of the quieter areas.  The rococo hall was basically deserted and I think the Beuning room is my new favorite spot in Amsterdam, it was so peaceful.

I was bracing myself to brave the madhouse in the Gallery of Honour.  You can't go to the Rijksmuseum and not pay your respects to The Night Watch.  But mostly I was drawn to Vermeer's ladies, The Milkmaid is one of my favorite Dutch pieces, a copy hangs in my kitchen above my stove.

Dutch school children learning about Rembrandt

My feelings about Vermeer's works are very similar to my feelings about Van Gogh, if you don't love his work we don't understand each other on a fundamental level and I simply don't trust you.

After wading through the crowds I sought out the room with the Rembrandt sketches and then headed to the library...where I wanted to pitch a tent and never leave.  Sadly, security frowns on that sort of behavior and I would like to be allowed back sometime.

Finally hunger for sustenance won out over hunger for art history and we tracked down a cozy little Vietnamese restaurant in De Pijp called Pho 91.  But not before browsing our way through the street market.

Amy was sad to say goodbye.

Stupidly good wings.
Looking at this depresses me because Logan has no good pho, and this was REALLY good pho.

 Full, content, and happy we allowed ourselves to be a little lazy and we kicked back on a canal cruise.

After our cruise we enjoyed a leisurely walk back to our room where we took a quick nap to fortify ourselves for a concert later that night.

It's the little things you miss when you ride instead of walk.
Urban camouflage.

After our old lady nap we got ready and caught the train out to the Ziggo Dome to catch the last show of Imagine Dragons' Smoke & Mirrors world tour.

~ DAY 2.5~

After another lazy start we bid our host adieu and winded our way to Dam square.  We perused the attractions, the street performers, and stores in the area.  I had to stop in at the Royal Delft store and pick up a tile for my kitchen.  We enjoyed a sinfully good late breakfast at Pancakes Amsterdam and then said our goodbyes to this amazing city and hopped a flight to Dublin.

Amy searched another Nerd-topia but still no signs of Sheldon.
Quality time ogling pastries.
So many replicas of the Queen of Colors.

We had some time to kill so I hit the express spa in the airport and since we were the only customers they let us hang out in the massage chairs for as long as we wanted.

Only one more stopover to go!