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May. 28th, 2008 @ 02:24 pm Amsterdam
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Amsterdam was fantastic. It's a really lovely place to visit.

(Although I may be biased, because I'm firmly convinced Amsterdam is full of Livredor, like Stockholm, and full of sunshine and spontaneously helpful passers-by, like Glasgow, and I'm reliably assured all six assertions were my good fortune rather than a reliable characterisation :))

* On Friday, I flew out from Stansted to Amsterdam Schiphol, and the journey was all fine and easy, the plane pleasant (as much as you could hope for a <1 hour journey), and the weather sunny.

* Amsterdam trams are nice and convenient for tourists, if you find a map and buy a 48-hour ticket. (It should be stamped the first time you enter a tram and ignored thereafter, iirc.)

* We headed back to the hotel to snuggle up and recover from the flight, and then wandered out through Amsterdam to find one of the vegetarian restaurants. I really, really love being in a city where quite literally every other road in both directions is along a canal. It's every so pretty to see.

* The hotel was nice. It was very convenient, perfectly nice, and we couldn't decide if we liked or not that they seemed to have blown their furniture budget on a couple of stools and couple of vast regency-like mirrors! :) And had some nice art about.

* On Saturday, livredor met friend at Shul in the morning, and I wandered round Amsterdam. I did not actually get very far with going to places, but it was ever so lovely to see. I wandered past the Anne Frank house :( I did not try to fight the hordes of queuers to go in (apparently if you want to, you can go in the evening when it's often quieter, or book online, which also applies to museums).

* I also went across the the tulip museum, which is just a tiny place under the tulip shop, but has a nice summary of the Tulip history, and the Tulip market bubble and crash. And to look at the palace, and the new church, but both were empty for the moment.

* I met livredor and friend, who brought a lovely picnic lunch, and we whiled the afternoon in the park, chatting about religion, gossip, and sex. (Or rather, we did in general.) In the evening friend headed home, and we went out to one of the other vegetarian restaurants.

* On Sunday we browsed the van Gogh museum. We had just about the right amount of time to wander round and see everything, and admire our favourites, but not feel we were supposed to do more. A few favourites I can't remember the titles of include: a blue man portrait of an art collector; courting couples in the park; several orchards and flowering trees; an (early, realistic) cottage; a windy bridge derived from a Chinese woodcut; and several from the ground floor of just-pre-van-gogh paintings, a dragoon on watch in a vibrant river, and several others.

* Then we met friend for lunch and ice-cream. About this point it started raining, and had been damp all day, but was nice when it wasn't heavy; it made us appreciate the first two days of glorious sun.

* We went to the Jewish historical museum. I'd recommend this (especially if you're with a native guide, perhaps), although I don't know what my companions thought. But it's interesting because it doesn't just dwell on only the holocaust, but describes the synagogue, and the history of Jewish settlement in Amsterdam from 1600-1900, their slow and difficult acceptance from tolerated and useful merchants and workers to the point where you hope they might actually achieve integration, illustrated with portraits and items. Which is abruptly curtailed by the holocaust, removing the vast majority of the jews (a sizeable proportion of the total population). I'm not typically very emotional, but I briefly choked up.

* We headed back to friend's house in the Hague, where we spent the whole evening flopping with friend's husband, and later friend, and treated to marvellous food from friend's husband.

* On Monday, we woke up slowly and pleasurably, were cooked pancakes (thank you!) for breakfast, and headed into the station, where Livredor headed home, and I walked round the centre of the Hague, very pleased to have a chance to see it.

* I was a little nervous I'd manage, having gone spontaneously with no firm directions, but I just had time to catch everything I wanted, which was lovely. There were some public maps, a nice station lady who directed me towards the centre, and a nice tourist information lady who gave me a map and circled the top three "I have an hour before my train" attractions :)

* The Hague was interesting; in many ways similar to Amsterdam to an outsider, but with less of a tendency to label everything in English, and with a slightly smaller number of canals in the centre, but also very pretty to a tourist. (And trains are convenient.)

* I took my camera so I wouldn't be deprived of the opportunity to take photos, but in fact took very few, not very representative. But am pleased that I didn't feel obliged either way, but snapped when I felt like it.

* We saw a statue of an invisible musician.

* That leaves out a lot, but is the brief highlights of the trip.

* Yay!
About this Entry
jack
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From:ceb
Date:May 28th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
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I love Amsterdam, the canals are so civilised. I'm not allowed to go back until the tall boats are there again, however.

The Holocaust Museum is very weird - the Dutch by and large sat quietly through the occupation and didn't rock any boats, so they don't have a resistance to laud, and they skim over a lot of collaboration.
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From:ceb
Date:May 28th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
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...sorry, I am confused with the Dutch Resistance Museum.
From:redaloud
Date:June 11th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)

statue of invisible musician

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Hi, I came across this via the link in Livredor's LJ. I hope you don't mind a random person commenting.

I really loved your account of Amsterdam, but one thing left me utterly mystified -- the statue of the invisible musician. Is this some kind of weird Dutch Emperor's New Clothes thing? Or is it actually a statue of an invisble musician? How does that work anyway? Have you got photographs of said statue? If so, please show, and satisfy my curiosity.

Incidentally (referring back to the beginning of the post), I've always thought Glasgow was a city full of spontaneously nice people, as well. They call you hen and randomly give you contraband cigarettes and smuggled booze, and the pub near the bus station has a breakfast deal where they serve a pint and a sandwich for a quid (well they used to anyway). There's also deep fried pizzas, but I think we should gloss over that. Glasgow is officially a Nice Place, two independent witnesses can't be wrong!
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From:cartesiandaemon
Date:June 12th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)

Re: statue of invisible musician

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Hello, nice to meet you. LOL -- I was expecting someone to ask about the musician, but no-one else did. I don't know what it may have been intended to depict, but what it was was a statue that at first glance appeared to be a statue of a musician, but on closer inspection proved to be a statue of a musician's low hat, long mac, shoes, and violin :) We were enchanted, and I said "Wow, I'm going to blog that I saw a statue of an invisible musician, and I wonder what people will think I mean" :)
From:redaloud
Date:June 12th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)

Re: statue of invisible musician

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Ooh, thanks. The statue sounds pretty cool. Thanks for deboggling my mind.