A Travellerspoint blog

Netherlands

Overnight in Amsterdam

Took the train from Berlin at 10.30 and by 5.30 I was eating an expensive piece of lasagne for my dinner at a food outlet at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. I had booked a night at the Ibis Budget hotel which had a free shuttle to and from the airport, The room was good and it was fun to spend a couple of hours watching television before going to sleep. For some reason I have managed to stay in homes where there was no television or in some cases no television station with an English channel. The next day after breakfast I shuttled back to the airport went through all the airport dramas and waited around for my plane to Guangzhou ( which was another two hours late in leaving) At long last I was on a plane heading back home.

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

A lunchtime Beethoven septet at the Concertgebouw

I'm 66 years old and have never attended a classical music concert, so when an opportunity turned up to see a free lunchtime recital at the Amsterdam Concert hall I joined the waiting line an hour before it started. They only let the first 400 in and often people are turned away. I thought it was a good idea because a nighttime concert would need flasher clothes than I have in my suitcase and would cost a minimum of $40 a seat. At least, having experienced about 45 minutes of virtuoso instrumental mastery, I know now what all the fuss is about. It was a spellbinding experience to watch and hear seven individuals play with such precision and passion. The sound from any one or combination of the instruments in turn filled the room with a powerful clarity of colour and tone that it became an emotional experience just to hear them. It was tempting to close the eyes and be carried away by the wonderful sounds, but watching each individual musician bobbing and weaving in their own inimitable way as they poured their heart and soul into their performances, added to the experience. The incredible imagination of the composer becomes apparent when you hear how the different instruments weave in and out of the melody strands and blend together seamlessly to create a whole that is so much more than its individual parts. I now stand in awe of the minds and imagination of classical composers. After all that excitement I got a bit peckish and headed off to my favourite little cafe for a healthy lunch of mushroom soup with a chicken and bacon sandwich. The lunch I had there yesterday was a not so healthy burger and fries with mayonaise. I have added a couple of photos of the nice place I'm staying, and some I took the other day when I took the free ferry from behind the railway station to the northern suburbs, and a very interesting building dedicated to the history of film. It is a spectacular building and has a large open restaurant complex as well as a number of luxurious picture theatres which showcase an eclectic mix of old and new arthouse films from all over world. I spent an hour looking through an exhibition showing the development of film from its earliest days and saw some amazing early short film clips I hadn't seen before. Finally I couldn't leave Amsterdam without commenting on the bike culture. I thought Tokyo was the capital of bikeriding, but I was wrong, riding a bike in Amsterdam is done by 70 percent of the population. Nobody wears helmets or lycra and dress only in what they will wear when they arrive. On both edges of the road is a pavement, then a two wide dedicated bike lane, then another pavement. This separates bikes from both cars and pedestrians, and they make the most of it with whole families beong transported from place to place clinging onto mum or dad on multiseat bikes. Even 50cc motorbikes are allowed to travel around helmetless in bike lanes. If I had been prepared with my camera I could have taken some crazy photos. The nicest one I saw was yesterday walking on the way to the local supermarket, when I was passed by a couple in their late seventies riding in the bike lane. She was riding her mobility scooter and he was riding beside her, barely keeping up, on a noisy old 50cc suzuki. It looked like their daily outing. As it was I took a few photos today of unusual bikes parked outside the local shops, just to give an idea of what sights can be seen everyday in Amsterdam. Tomorrow night I fly onto Seville and go from 12 degree days to 35 degree days. That should be interesting. However I've got 10 days of clothing to wash and a bit of settling in to do before I can manage another blog so It might be a few days...

The Concertgebouw

The Concertgebouw


the small concerthall seats 400

the small concerthall seats 400


waiting for the musicians to appear

waiting for the musicians to appear


Taking their first bow

Taking their first bow


Violinists were the stars of the show

Violinists were the stars of the show


ensemble walk off after their first encore

ensemble walk off after their first encore


beating the crowds who were still clapping

beating the crowds who were still clapping


my little cafe by the Rijksmuseum

my little cafe by the Rijksmuseum


same price as burger king combo

same price as burger king combo


today's healthier lunch

today's healthier lunch


North shore to the EYE on free ferry

North shore to the EYE on free ferry


getting closer

getting closer


walking into the EYE film institute

walking into the EYE film institute


looking back to city

looking back to city


fits a dog and/or couple of kids

fits a dog and/or couple of kids


kids seat behind, toddler seat in front

kids seat behind, toddler seat in front


This one with two wheeled front

This one with two wheeled front


two kids on the back

two kids on the back


high perch behind

high perch behind


armchair seat behind

armchair seat behind


old bike with flowers

old bike with flowers


very comfortable bed

very comfortable bed


My desk

My desk


bathroom with heated tile floor

bathroom with heated tile floor


power shower

power shower


living area

living area


dining room

dining room


amazing kitchen

amazing kitchen

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Another day, another amazing museum...Rijksmuseum.

On a 12 degree cold showery morning in Amsterdam I took a tram that dropped me off infront of the Rijksmuseum (State museum). It was 10am and I expected to have to do some queueing to get inside, but I got lucky and chose a morning when the two hour queues slept in. This was my first museum for the year and I paid my 17.5 euros ( $26 ) for a ticket knowing that they had just spent 10 years and 375 million euro renovating the place for my visit. The other factor that influenced my choice of museum to visit was that they allowed photos to be taken inside. I would have been mad if I'd have paid the same to visit the Van Gogh museum up the road and been told that taking photographs was forbidden ( as it was I got a photo of a Van Gogh self portrait in the Rijksmuseum, although I think he moved when I shot it because it came out blurry). Anyway It pays to do your homework. I loved the long line of Miffys in the courtyard of the Museum, and was intrigued by the pair of 10 foot black children? standing in the pond that is used as a skating rink in winter. I tried to find out more about them but couldn't find any information except that the pond is used for temporary installations. The iconic I AMSTERDAM sign was fun too, and not as easy to climb onto as it looked. I watched a couple of people try to get ontop of it for a photoshoot but gave up when it was too high to climb. The museum is a good one and showcases 900 years of Dutch historical artifacts from 1100 to 2000 on four floors of a grand old building. It took me 3 hours to check it out and I was glad of the couches and benchseats scattered throughout the building. You could as you walked through spot a celebrity piece of artwork by the crowds of people that surrounded it. Both the Vermeer Milkmaid and the Van Gogh self portrait were only small paintings, but exuded that star quality. It was like walking into a room and spotting a famous celebrity in amongst all the others. You just knew it had to be the real thing. Rembrandts works were not as appealing to me. Apart from the shear size and brashness of the artworks, it was obvious he was such a prolific masterful painter that he could turn out dozens of well executed paintings, to order. For me real art happens when someone creates something that moves me emotionally or aesthetically in a way that is unique to that person and that piece of work. I haven't yet seen a Rembrandt that did that for me. Mind you they are beautiful big paintings which contain lots and lots of details ( but no 'Where's Wally', I looked )

Iconic I amsterdam sign

Iconic I amsterdam sign


In front of museum

In front of museum


line of Miffys in front of museum

line of Miffys in front of museum


Room after room filled with exotica

Room after room filled with exotica


gives an idea of the size of the paintings

gives an idea of the size of the paintings


'The Night Watch' could be small but

'The Night Watch' could be small but


Rembrandt's 'Night Watch' in context

Rembrandt's 'Night Watch' in context


large and lifelike

large and lifelike


Fabulous replica

Fabulous replica


amazing detail

amazing detail


lots of dutch religious icons

lots of dutch religious icons


Carved angels

Carved angels


Salome's prize?

Salome's prize?


Bust of Christ

Bust of Christ


lifesize and lifelike carved and painted figures

lifesize and lifelike carved and painted figures


Old woman praying

Old woman praying


needs a bottle of heineken to be authentic

needs a bottle of heineken to be authentic


One end of long picture

One end of long picture


and the other end

and the other end


Life size carved bust of loved one is just spooky

Life size carved bust of loved one is just spooky


Only their mother could love this lot..

Only their mother could love this lot..


Queen Ann, a royal white widow at 15

Queen Ann, a royal white widow at 15


Marriage of Ann 9 and William of Orange 14

Marriage of Ann 9 and William of Orange 14


Allegory for winter- warming her hands over coals

Allegory for winter- warming her hands over coals


Stunning Vermeer's... Milkmaid

Stunning Vermeer's... Milkmaid


Van Gogh self portrait, he must have moved

Van Gogh self portrait, he must have moved


Hundreds of cabinets of Dutch Pottery

Hundreds of cabinets of Dutch Pottery


They belong together

They belong together


Mondrian 1

Mondrian 1


Mondrian 2

Mondrian 2


Found this fella behind railway station

Found this fella behind railway station

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Why did I buy an umbrella at the markets?

One look at the pictures I took at the markets yesterday and the answer is obvious. After a few hours the drizzle stopped and by 2pm the sun was shining again. A few of these photos were taken a couple of days ago when it was really sunny. I really like Amsterdam. The people are friendly, usually smiling, and the scenery is totally unique. Maybe that is why the streets can get really crowded with tourists from all over Europe and the world. As you walk around, following the mob, it is interesting to listen in on different conversations and figure out where the speaker comes from. I've heard lots of French, Italian, Greek, Spanish, German, many of the dialects of Great Britain, and languages of the countries of Eastern Europe. These voices seem at times to make you forget where you are and drown out the voices of the locals. It's only when you head out into the suburbs that Dutch once again reasserts itself as the common tongue. The buildings in town look like they belong in Amsterdam, but opposite the Centraal Station is a stunner. The Grand Hotel Amrath was built as offices for a group of shipping companies in the Early 20th century in a uniquely Dutch Art Nouveau style. Over the years it had many different lives but In 2007 the refurbished building reopened as a luxurious 5 star hotel. It is supposed to be as grand inside as it is on the outside and for rooms starting at two hundred euro a night it would need to be. I just found out that they do a tour of the building with a cup of tea and a sandwich for about $60. I'll think about it. The canals are very cool and many of them have houseboats on them. Not just in the city but also throughout the suburbs can be seen cute little homes situated on canals, most have a small boat tethered on the canal. It could be an idyllic lifestyle for some. My first day wandering around the streets was a long one. I got lost twice. It was my fault because I was too cheap to buy a 2 euro map. Lesson learned and it was the first purchase I made before wandering the streets yesterday ( when I didn't get lost ). My first day also was also the first time I checked out the local supermarket chains for ready to eat meals and snacks and was pleasantly surprised at what I was able to buy. What I didn't expect to find were two things. The first was ONTBIJTKOEK also known as Breakfast Cake. Wow who would have thought that someone could invent a special cake for breakfast. It comes in a rectangular sliced block and has the texture of a madeira cake, but tastes of ginger, molasses and cinnamon. It is cheap as chips to buy and it is very yummy spread with butter. The second thing that I got excited about was a 500ml bottle of orange juice with a screw on metal cap. Imagine my surprise when I took the top off and had a gulp of what tasted first of all of bananas and then an aftertaste of orange. When I read the label it said that the bottle held all the natural goodness of six oranges and one banana. I wonder who the first person was who said "I know how about making the orange juice taste of bananas" ...

albert cuyp market

albert cuyp market


more market

more market


more market

more market


more market

more market


another market selling only tulip bulbs

another market selling only tulip bulbs


very cool "The Grand Hotel Amrath"

very cool "The Grand Hotel Amrath"


I became obsessed with the building

I became obsessed with the building


detailing by the entrance

detailing by the entrance


incredible detailing

incredible detailing


more of same

more of same


and more

and more


St Nicholas Basilica

St Nicholas Basilica


The Weeping Tower built 1481

The Weeping Tower built 1481


calliope playing  beautiful waltzes loudly

calliope playing beautiful waltzes loudly


Tourists in Dam Square

Tourists in Dam Square


Dam Square

Dam Square


buildings opposite Railway station

buildings opposite Railway station


another day, another canal

another day, another canal


shopping street leading into city centre

shopping street leading into city centre


Maybe I'll book this next time.

Maybe I'll book this next time.


canal view

canal view


more canal views

more canal views


canal view

canal view


Rembrandt Square

Rembrandt Square


lifesize statues

lifesize statues


Centraal Station from afar

Centraal Station from afar


Centraal station

Centraal station


unique buildings everywhere

unique buildings everywhere


like this cheese shop

like this cheese shop


mild, medium, tasty anyone

mild, medium, tasty anyone


refreshingly blunt dutchness

refreshingly blunt dutchness

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Windmills and a Noddy house on steroids...

After a grey and cold morning this afternoon saw the sun make an appearance, so I grabbed my warmest hoodie and caught a bus to a place called Zaanse Schans. It's just on the outskirts of Zaandam where I am staying and is a put together traditional Dutch village next to a handful of working windmills on the banks of the Zaandam river. It is a stunning location and showcases all that is quintessentially Dutch. Coachloads of smiling tourists turn up everyday to take photos and today was no exception, the place was crowded. I walked around for about an hour enjoying the beautiful views and then decided to try and take a few photos of Zaandam town centre on the way home. The sun stayed out and I got a few shots of the quirky buildings that have been built recently to attract people to the township, which is only 20 minutes by bus into the centre of Amsterdam. Finding accommodation here was a bonus because otherwise I may never have got to see this ridiculously quaint little town. Yesterday I spent five hours walking around and occasionally getting lost in the winding streets of Amsterdam, but I thought that it would be nice to showcase the area close to where I am staying first....

Working windmills on Zaandam river

Working windmills on Zaandam river


another stunning view

another stunning view


a green one

a green one


a grey one

a grey one


they had spare tiles so.....

they had spare tiles so.....


Inntel hotel in centre of Zaandam

Inntel hotel in centre of Zaandam


Zaandam railway station and council offices

Zaandam railway station and council offices


Canal runs down centre of main street

Canal runs down centre of main street


Zaandam

Zaandam


Zaandam

Zaandam


canalside houses in Zaandam

canalside houses in Zaandam

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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