Monday, October 22, 2012

She sang every morning, "How lucky I am"

So, on our second day in Amsterdam, after a breakfast of fresh orange juice, oatmeal cookie (nearly cereal) and a coffee, we decided to visit the Rijksmuseum. We were surprised and pleased to see that they didn't mind people taking photographs. There were some terrific paintings: these two were obviously planned to be Christmas cards from the outset;

 'The Night Watch' is a huge painting; the main figures are pretty much lifesize. Though I must admit I couldn't help looking for Discworld characters in it!

 This Vermeer just took our breath away. It's stunning. It's only a little painting but the quality is superb. Just by  looking you know exactly what the fabric of her clothing felt like and you can almost hear the pouring of the milk. A real joy to see it 'in the real', and realise that even the best reproduction just doesn't do it justice.

I should really have taken a picture of the portrait of the obese young man who looked so spoilt and arrogant and sneery that I just itched to slap his fat face. He looked as though he was his parents' pride and joy and had been over-indulged in everything for his entire life. Edit: Hurrah! I've just found a copy on Google:

After a few hours in the museum we browsed in the flower market. I could have spent a fortune on some of the more exotic plants and corms and bulbs.

  The amaryllis bulbs were the biggest I've ever seen.

Gosh! I don't think Customs would be terribly happy if we tried bringing one of these back.

On the other side of the road to the flower stalls there were other shops. If you want cheese this is the place to come.

The cheese shop
"Cheeeeeeeese, Gromit!"
Green cheese. Really?
 And then we wandered some more, passing some caf├ęs that smelt very strange. We didn't like to go in because we thought there might not be enough oxygen in there to sustain life; the smell hung like a solid curtain by the open doorways.

While making our way back to the hotel we saw the perfect bike for Tammy!

A bike for Tammy
 There are so many amazing narrow little houses; some plots are as little as 2 metres wide but the houses are four or five storeys high, but with the ground floor below street level. They all have hoists at the roof for getting furniture in and out of the windows, because the stairs are far too steep and narrow to get anything but the smallest of belongings in that way!

Sweet little house on the corner
 Very few of the houses have their floors on the same level as their neighbour.

Inconsistent floor levels!
We saw this odd little clog-boat; I doubt it's very stable!

For dinner in the evening we asked the receptionist if she knew of anywhere that did traditional Dutch food; she couldn't think of anywhere like that but said we'd get a good meal at a reasonable price at the Eetkamer in the Jordaan district. We managed to get a tram most of the way there (you NEARLY DIE when you try to catch a tram; the tram stops are in the middle of the road, so you need to get through the cavalcades of mad cyclists with no lights and the cars to get to the island in the middle), and she was right; the food was indeed very good. We decided to walk back although it was quite a long way, because houses looked like dolls' houses from across the canals, with their lights on so you could see inside.

The camera setting makes it look as though Amsterdam was on fire; it didn't look like that really!


NigelH said...

Looks absolutely marvellous. I'm jealous, but I couldn't walk as far as you youngsters!