As Joe Friday used to say, "Just the facts, ma'am."
9:45 am -- walked purposefully in a direction I'd not yet headed,
|Albert Cuyp Market|
Cheese and flowers at the Albert Cuyp Market
|Garden at the entrance to the Rijksmuseum|
12 pm - high noon -- was headed, purposefully again, on a search for the perfect Dutch pancake, but for one of the few times during my time here, even though there was a persistent threat of rain, the actual substance appeared, really lightly but I didn't want to take the chance that light rain would turn into a downpour. I happened to be near the starting point for Blue Boat tours, which is not at all far from the Rijks and other museums in that fine place called Museumplein, and a boat was about to leave, so I joined the tour.
Avid readers of Dottore Gianni (hello out there!) will remember that one of the first things I did upon arrival in Amsterdam was to take a boat tour, and in fact from the same company. It may seem a little silly, even a waste of money, to take the tour again, BUT! On the first trip I opted to stay outside the long cabin, in order to have the freedom to take good photos in a way that would have been impossible inside. This time I stayed in the cabin, even though the rain had stopped, to hear the commentary via a headset -- there were at least 15 languages represented -- guess which one I chose?
You see, I make you work while reading this blog!
And I was very glad to remain in the cabin, not just because of the rain outside it, but also the narrative gave me good information on many people, places, things that I had no way of knowing on my first go-round. And of course what is Amsterdam best known for? Its canals!
I learned many things, starting with why Amsterdam is so named. Why, you ask? Because it was a dam placed on the River Amstel (light dawns on readers who know Amstel only as Light, consumed in the ale house of their choice). So, this Amstel Dam morphed into one word. I more or less knew that Amsterdam could not have been what it was without dykes, which protected it from the sea.
|NEMO, designed by Renzo Piano|
|The Sea Palace, a floating restaurant|
|If you look close you can see the cantilevered hooks |
atop each of the houses - clearest is second from left
|Former canal warehouses |
you can tell by the large windows and shutters
|If you look close you can see several of the seven bridges|
and one that wasn't seen on the tour but described in the commentary, The Cats in Art Museum, which was started by rich man and (having heard of that museum I can now attest) eccentric, JP Morgan!
Unfortunately I also learned to hate the commentators, called Ron and Nell in the English language version, probably Jacques and Marianne in the French, a supposed married couple who have lived in Amsterdam for many years, who bicker cheerfully and who, while giving out important information about the city and its environs, were created to satisfy the largest number in the most inane way. Ah well, I DID get the information.
|Snooty, expensive pancake house|
|a view in the Vondelpark|
By the time I finished eating it was 2:40, and I quickly joined the Van Gogh queue.
I'll have to go back to "line" beginning tomorrow when I head back to the U.S., but for now it's still going to be "queue," a term I've grown rather fond of. It is simply a more interesting word than "line," if only in the amazing number of vowels in a one-syllable word, wouldn't you say? Just to point this out to any of my readers who've not yet been to Amsterdam, there are constant queues at all three of the major museums, The Rijks, the Van Gogh, and especially the Anne Frank House.
|The Anne Frank House|
3 pm -- after a not terribly long wait in the Van Gogh queue, I entered what for me was the highlight (along with the canals) of my trip! I am not going to take time to describe the museum, except to say that you can see an excellent selection of the master's paintings in chronological order, and also the works by others who influenced him and who were colleagues. A really fine special exhibition called Dreams of Nature, Symbolism from Van Gogh to Kandinsky was included in the price of the main museum but placed in the newer addition to the museum in the fascinating building adjacent to it, which you can barely see on the left in the photo above, but which I'll show you just below.
4:30 pm -- I strolled back to the hotel, again purposefully, because though I was content with all I had seen on this last day, I was also very tired. After a brief rest I headed out again at about 6:30 pm for the last time on my last day, to finally get myself a proper Dutch pancake. I found it at the same place near my hotel where I'd eaten the night before, when hunger got the better of me and instead of a pancake I'd had wiener schnitzel. This time I ordered another pint of Heineken (which tastes better from a tap than in a can or bottle, I must say) and a ham and cheese savoury pancake, which was delicious! Here the service was friendly and quick, the server recommended the sauce you see in the photo, not dissimilar to maple syrup, and all in all it was a great way to end my last day out.
Back then to the hotel, work on blog and photos etc etc, and then a good sound sleep before my day of departure.
A brief coda, containing a part of the re-mix: you may remember from my first Amsterdam blog that I had a very angry taxi driver. Well for the ride back to Centraal Station I had a very friendly driver, who instantly struck up a conversation. He is Turkish, though born in Amsterdam and a life-long citizen of the city. We chatted about a number of things. He was very open, noting at one point that he felt somewhat like a stranger in a strange land, as while his roots were Turkish he knew much more about the Netherlands, but at the same time also felt that feeling that I have described concerning myself in earlier posts. I got the feeling that he didn't really mind feeling that way, that it was just a fact. And while he had much better reason than I do for his feeling, I felt an instant bond with this man I'd never see again.
He also told me about Queen's Day, which took place the day before I arrived.
|A sign left over from the|
Queen's Day celebration
I love fast trains and the Thalys that took us from Amsterdam to Brussels was very fast indeed, the Eurostar which got us from Brussels back to London even faster! I would start a paragraph on why the U.S. is foolish not to invest in similar fast rail travel, but that would end as a long tirade. Instead I'll just say that I really enjoyed my time in the dam upon the Amstel, and felt quite a bit bittersweet on the return journey, my last save one (the trip tomorrow to Heathrow) in my great near year here, on this side of the great pond.