The first of the 2013 Adventures : Amsterdam, a city of canals.
Despite only being in Amsterdam two and a half days, we covered quite a bit of the city (I think?). We stopped in several cafes including a sweet little place called Bagels & Beans, saw the flower market, went on a canal tour, visited the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh museum, and went into a few shops: a book store, where we saw the letters by Hemingway (below), a children's shop with beautiful wooden toys, and a clothing boutique that could make me poor(er), I loved it so much. Bought several postcards, a boho skirt, a novel, and a magnet. Because we're tourists and apparently we must.
The works of Van Gogh are on temporary display in the Hermitage, and I think this may be my favorite art gallery experience so far. I love the movement and feeling in his work - particularly that feeling you get when you are awed by nature. In Two Peasant Women in the Peat Fields, there is a soft yellow line in the distance depicting a sunset: the coming of a warm harvest evening, and rest. I remember feeling this happy warmth in the mountains, seeing the sun go down.
Isaac threw up in the bathroom.
Singel Number 7, considered by many to be the narrowest house in the world. It's the one between Singel Number 5 and the brick building, barely wider than the front door. Apparently the residents of Amsterdam used to be taxed based on the frontage of their homes, so they chose to build narrow and up. And sometimes, very crooked.
Brought to mind Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday:
Princess Ann: Is this your room?
Joe Bradley (indignantly): It's the elevator!
As you can see, Isaac prefers to be carried when travelling. Poor little trooper got a stomach bug on the second morning there and was sad and dopey until flying home. He's better now.
If nothing else: evidence that you can travel with toddlers and have a good time despite ... throw up.
Like Denmark, Amsterdam is mostly bicycle. Here we have Woman on Bike, Freezing. The first day of our visit was happily sunny and dry, but the second (pictured) was freezing, with snow.
The city has a storybook feel to it, all brick and canal and tulip.
And pot. And really cool graffiti.
Here is Isaac at the Anne Frank Huis. He was not as impressed by this historical experience as he was by his Amsterdam magnet; however, I think he'll change his mind someday, when I tell him he signed the guest book.
This was an incredible experience, especially after reading the book so often as a child. I feel honored to have been there and seen this bit of history firsthand.
'Think of all the beauty still left around you, and be happy.' - ANNE FRANK
I don't know; I thought it was funny.
Incidentally, I also thought The Pancake Corner was funny. Had to stop in because we're American and therefore love pancakes, but this cafe apparently thought of itself as a multicultural food emporium ... and was therefore a mistake. Reminded me of Gilmore Girls. "You had seafood at Al's Pancake World?!"
About those crooked houses ... So apparently, at some point in time, they thought crooked buildings looked more expansive and impressive than your run-of-the-mill safely-structured home. So they lean.
'Loved your work in Pisa.'
We learned a great deal about the city on the canal tour. The audio tour guides were an elderly married couple who peppered their two-hour discussion with the corniest anecdotes I have ever heard. I'm so happy I don't know them, although I can do a pretty decent impression. This drives Tim crazy.
Pictured above is the only canal where you can see seven bridges all lined up (or you could, if I hadn't taken the blurry photo with instagram, through glass windows). There are over 1700 bridges in Amsterdam, and who knows how many houseboats. Houseboats became popular after WWII, when there was a housing shortage, and now they rival the cost of living in a classy crooked apartment.
I'd prefer a boat. With a sundeck and a garden. Like this one:
And that, in a nutshell, was our brief visit to Amsterdam. The first of our travelling adventures for this year. With any luck, this post will (eventually) be followed by Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, somewhere in Italy, somewhere in Switzerland, and, if we're really lucky - maybe the Faroe Islands? Campgrounds in Wales? And I'd love to see Iceland. Here's to hoping.
I just want to see as much as I can.
. . .
Saw this quote on A Well Travelled Woman and kind of love it:
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you- it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you… Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
- Anthony Bourdain