Tulips, Wooden Clogs and Bikes
So the morning I was leaving for Amsterdam I woke up with a fever and felt awful. I took some medicine and felt a bit better so I decided to head to Amsterdam. Needless to say, if you were expecting a blog on a vice-filled trip which is incredibly hazy that’s not what you are about to get. Instead I was sick the entire time and went to bed at 9 p.m. more than once and I am now in Paris lying in bed with a bunch of medication praying that I will feel better so I can taste food and go to Italy.
But Amsterdam itself was nice. My friend Hannah and I bought Iamsterdam cards for 48 hours so we got into a lot of museums and other things for free or discounted. We went to the Rijksmuseum which houses Dutch masterpieces such as Rembrandt and Vermeer; a lot of the museum is under renovation so that was a brief visit. Then we went for a canal cruise which was fun.
And we were lucky enough to spot a clog boat!
Before calling it a day, we went to the Anne Frank Huis. This was where Anne spent her last years in hiding and it was a bizarre feeling to think that she had written her diary within this house and that it was not even that long ago. We made it back to our hostel without being hit by a bicyclist (Amsterdam is like a UC campus, everyone rides a bike).
The following day we decided to take advantage of more free museums on our cards. So we started out with the Rembrandt House. This was a huge house where he lived and painted and also the reason he went bankrupt. But it was a nice house. Then we wanted to see how the other half lived (not as absurd as the French) so we went to the Van Loon Mansion. Not too shabby, I mean I wouldn’t mind a garden like this in a middle of a city:
Then we went to Heineken. Not just Heineken, the Heineken Experience. But sadly my taste buds weren’t working so I can’t say if it tastes any better than in the States. It was a really corporate tour and I must say I enjoyed my Belgian museum brewery tour and the Lvivshke tour in Ukraine a lot more.
We ended our afternoon at the Van Gogh Museum which was great. There was a special exhibit Van Gogh and The Colors of the Night which was an interesting chronological development of his style and paintings. So by now you are probably wondering when I am going to talk about the good stuff. Well Hannah and I wandered the Red Light District (here is a shot of me blurring the red colors):
The Red Light District doesn’t really feel sketchy at all. There are lots of tours walking around and just tourists in general. Everyone knows it is there; it is legal; it is a clean and pretty safe area. The women in the windows look pretty bored – a lot of them were texting or talking on their cell phones (although I am sure in high summer season they don’t do this). And as far as marijuana, you can buy it in designated “coffee shops.” You will be carded as you must be 18 or over. Again there is nothing sketchy about it. Locals come in, have a smoke and leave. Honestly if we did that in the US and just taxed it really heavily…but maybe Europeans are just more open with drugs and alcohol and we will always have Puritan roots in our political traditions.
But enough on all of that, the real fun came the next day. My aunt Jackie (always great with suggestions) recommended the Keukenhof Gardens. This garden is only open for two months of the year while all the spring bulbs are in bloom. It was like Disneyland for tulips.
I had a lot of fun using the macro setting on my camera:
There were just so many beautiful tulips in every size, shape and color that it seemed really unreal. It is actually interesting how back in the day fortunes were made and lost off of the tulip bulb in the Netherlands:
As far as food, sadly my taste buds weren’t feeling this trip. But I did try a traditional pea and ham soup which was good. And of course a Dutch pancake, also not bad.
And before we left Amsterdam we went to the Sex Museum (figured we had to). It actually wasn’t anything too shocking but it was a fitting end to our trip. I am now on my fourth cup of tea and crossing my fingers. I leave you with a crazy little Dutch song I somehow stumbled into the middle of at the Keukenhof Garden (my life is ridiculous sometimes):