Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Visit to Amsterdam

Your local bread shop!
As I mentioned in the Tulipomania post we had scheduled a trip to Amsterdam for the long weekend. Although I have lived in Brussels for 16 years we never visited the city (although my husband have been there before). Well, some things you regret! This is a wonderful city and I should have visited it much earlier. But...never too late! There are a lot of things to see and just to walk around the city is a pleasure in itself. The wonderful canals, the beautiful Dutch houses, the flowers, the house boats just about everything. The people all speak English and they are all very friendly.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and having settled into our Designer hotel, Artemis, in the outskirts of Amsterdam we took the bus downtown. First the important thing to find something to eat and then we were ready for the Rijksmuseum where the main attraction is Rembrandt's 'Nightwatch'.
The Library in the Rijksmuseum
Nightwatch by Rembrandt
I like art, especially the old masters (not so much modern art), but I am no expert. However, the paintings here from 16-17th centuries are absolutely fantastic. The Dutch painters portrayed very well everyday life which I think is far more interesting to see than gods and goddesses (although they have their charm as well). Unfortunately we were late and they closed an hour early that day so we really had to rush through this section and had to run (more or less) through the 18-19th centuries. This is a very good excuse to go back to Amsterdam to have a proper look. And the LIBRARY I could have stayed there for some hours (have a look at the picture).
The Flower Market
The Flower Market from the
canal by night

Afterwords a walk around the canals and the flower market before we headed to eat in the highly recommended Indonesian restaurant Sama Sebo (http://www.samasebo.nl/en/) where we had the famous 'rijstafel'. Two different kind of rice with I think at least 15-20 small dishes to go with it. Yammi!

Saturday saw us walking around the city again.  Our first aim was  Anne Frank's house but as it turned out we were not the only onces! The queue was too long so we had to settle for a picture. Instead we headed to the other side of the canal to visit the Tulip museum. This is a very nice, rather small museum but with all the information on how the tulip came to Europe and Holland, the Tulipomania and the present day tulip market in Holland. Very interesting.





The Tulip Museum
Having seen the wonderful 'Nightwatch' by Rembrandt it would be appropriate to visit his house. He had to pay 13.000 gulden for it, a small fortune in those day. Although he was a busy painter and very productive he did not manage to pay his mortgage after some years and he had to move and the house was sold to pay his debts. The house has been restored as it might have looked when he lived there. A lovely house, rather small rooms over 4 floors, a wonderful kitchen with these open fireplaces which you can walk into!


We also managed to visit the private palace of the Van Loon family. Wonderfully situated by one of the canals. It is still owned by the family and it has a very private, cosy atmosphere. That was it, as far as Amsterdam was concerned, for now (we did not have time either for the Van Gogh museum or the Amsterdam historical museum).

Sunday on the way back we passed by Leiden the old university city. Looked really wonderful but we
Hail storm in Leiden
were caught in a hail storm (YES!) and did not leave the car. Another must do trip in the future. On, on we went to Delft, famous for their blue and white porcelain as well as for Vermeer who lived there his whole life. We managed to avoid the rain and went to the Vermeer centre to pic up on the history of his life and time.  Wouw, which paintings (although not the originals of course). It seems he was the master of light and the explanation they give on how he used the light is fascinating. A copy of 'The Girl with a Pearl Earing' (one of his most famous paintings) was there of course and if you have not read the book by Tracy Chevalier it is a must! A small walk around the old city and the canals, a good lunch in a japanese/chinese restaurant and a good cappucino in a wonderful coffee house (almost like Starbucks but nicer!). The future will find me here again I think!

Delft houses by the canal.
Don't step out of your front door!
In Delft the electricity covers
look like this of course!


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